Santa Maria delle Grazi

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Santa Maria delle Grazie ("Holy Mary of Grace") is a church and Dominican convent in Milan, northern Italy , included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list. The church contains the mural of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, which is in the refectory of the convent.

Santa Maria delle Grazi, Milan, Italy
Santa Maria delle Grazi, Milan,, Italy

The Duke of Milan Francesco I Sforza ordered the building of a Dominican convent and a church in the place where a small chapel dedicated to St. Mary of the Graces was. The main architect was Guiniforte Solari, the convent was completed by 1469 while the church took more time. The new duke Ludovico Sforza decided to have the church as the Sforza family burial place and rebuild the cloister and the apse which were completed after 1490.

Santa Maria delle Grazi, Milan, Italy
Santa Maria delle Grazi, Milan,, Italy

The design of the apse of the church has been attributed to Donato Bramante; however, while it was built while he was in the service of the Duchy, there is scant documentary evidence linking him to this church. His name is inscribed in a piece of marble in the church vaults delivered in 1494. Some documents though mention the name Amadeo, likely Giovanni Antonio Amadeo.

Santa Maria delle Grazi, Milan, Italy
Santa Maria delle Grazi, Milan,, Italy

Similarities to his work at Santa Maria alla Fontana make this attribution more likely. However, there's no real evidence of the fact, but that Bramante lived in Milan at the time, and He continued the gothic style from the first part, but mixed with Romanesque influence.

Santa Maria delle Grazi, Milan, Italy
Santa Maria delle Grazi, Milan,, Italy

In 1543, the Holy Crown chapel on the right of the nave, received a painting by Titian, depicting the Christ receives the Crown of Thorns. Looted by French troops in 1797, it is now in the Louvre. This chapel is frescoed with Stories of the Passion by Gaudenzio Ferrari. In the small cloister adjacent to the tribune near the door that leads to the sacristy is a fresco by Bramantino.

Santa Maria delle Grazi, Milan, Italy
Santa Maria delle Grazi, Milan,, Italy

Nowadays the Sacrestia vecchia, or the Old Sacristy, designed and constructed by Donato Bramante, is the seat of a Dominican Cultural Centre (Centro Culturale alle Grazie), in which the brethren organize and host conferences on various themes pertaining to spirituality, philosophy, art, literature and sociology, in addition to musical concerts and artistic exhibitions.

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