The church is dedicated to Saint Lawrence, one of the seven deacons of Rome, who was martyred in 258 during the persecution of the Christians by the Roman Emperor Valerian.
The church dates back to a period between the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 5th century, and was built on the remains of a temple dedicated to Hercules by the Emperor Maximian.
The church was damaged by fire in 1071 and 1072, its dome collapsed in 1103, and it was destroyed again by fire in 1124. The church was then rebuilt in Romanesque style, maintaining the original internal layout.
During the Middle Ages, the basilica remained a symbol of the Roman heritage in Milan, and a privileged burial place for the city’s bishops.
In 1573, the dome of the church collapsed once again during a liturgical celebration. Given the importance of the building, Cardinal Carlo Borromeo comissioned the architect Martino Bassi to rebuilt the dome according to the tastes of the time, with an octagonal lantern in Lombard tradition.
After a miraculous event occurred in 1585, when an infirm was healed in front of the painting of the Madonna del Latte, at the completion of the works, in 1626, the painting was transferred to the main altar, where it still found.
The front of the church on Corso di Porta Ticinese, built in the 19th century by Cesare Nava following the ancient plans of Martino Bassi, is introduced by a portico with pilasters of the Ionic order interspersed with round arches decorated with keystones.
On the lintel of the portico, we can find the dedication of the church: Sancto Lavrentio Martyri. The actual facade takes up the shapes of the portico and has three openings with architraved portals.
The church has four bell towers made in terracotta. The front left tower is cut off, while the right one is decorated at the top with triple lancet windows on columns with capitals. Looking from the rear, the right tower from Piazza Vetra has a slit opening, while the left one is decorated in a similar way to the right tower from the front.
The characterizing element of the building is however the dome – octagonal in shape, with the tiburium (lantern tower) marked by pilasters, with rectangular windows surmounted by round and triangular gables, and with the lantern at the top.
The plan of the church, whose structure remained almost unchanged since its foundation, is made up of an overlapping square and circle, with a central square-shaped plan with four apses, one on each side.
HOW TO GET THERE
Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore is located about 800 meters away from the closest Metro station, Missori, on the Line 3. The closest bus stop is Colonne di San Lorenzo, located about 100 meters away, on the bus Line 94, and the closest tram stop is Carrobbio, on the tram Line 3, located about 130 meters away.