A ‘young’ University with ancient origins
Also known as ‘La Statale’, the University of Milan is, relatively speaking, one of Italy’s younger university institutions. It was founded in 1924 thanks to the tenacious efforts of doctor and gynaecologist Luigi Mangiagalli, who in creating La Statale, realised his long-held dream of building a university for Lombardy’s regional capital.
Indeed, up until that point, it was the University of Pavia, founded in the fourteenth century and the main education centre in northern Italy, that housed the traditional university faculties. Over the centuries, however, the numerous educational institutions and schools of excellence which sprang up in Milan would later be incorporated under the University of Milan.
A representative of the Chamber of Deputies in 1902 and later mayor of Milan, Mangiagalli, together with a group of Milanese members of the Association for the Promotion of High Culture, set about creating the city’s very first university. The project finally became a reality when in 1913, the City Council of Milan granted them some land on the eastern fringes of the city, an area that Mangiagalli himself had earmarked as a “Città degli Studi” (“City of Studies”), a name still used today to refer not only to the University but to the entire district in which it is located. Building work began in 1915 and was completed more than a decade later.
The Botanic Garden of Brera is part of a large cultural complex housed in the nearby Brera Palace. It includes the Brera Art Gallery, the Astronomical Observatory, the “Braidense” Library and the Academy of Fine Arts.
The surface of the botanic garden is only 5000 sq.mt; still it is worth while visiting for its special charm of an ancient romantic garden rich in historical memories.
In the 17th century the Brera palace and garden belonged to the religious order of the Jesuites. The palace was a place dedicated to higher learning while the garden was used as an orchard and for growing medicinal plants.
When the Jesuite order was suppressed by Pope Clemente XIV, the whole Brera complex became a property of the Austrian State. The Austrian government maintained the destination of the palace as a place of higher learning. The prestigious Platine Schools were transferred there and new cultural institutions were created, among them the School of Botany. The garden is divided into three section: two of them have narrow flower-beds and a water basin at the center, the third is a plain lawn surrounded by trees. A greenhouse was built on the North side of the garden, facing South.