Rings around Milan - ancient walls and modern ring roads around Milan, and the "Circonvallazioni di Milano"

The importance of the fortified city of Milan throughout the ages, owes to its central position on the biggest plain in all of Italy. The relative flatness and its large distance from major rivers has led to a very natural growth in the spread of the city. The 13th century poet and writer of Lombard, Bonvesin da la Riva, remarked on the circular shape that city had developed: "this admirable roundness is a sign of its perfection".

Bonvesin de la Riva, a 13th century Lombard writer remarked on the perfect roundness in the shape of Milan city Medieval map of Milan from the Vatican Library, drawn in 1472, shows the walled Milan as very round and circular


In present times, there are at least three rings of roads that surround Milan (and even more that we can consider), and they are often used as a handy way of referring to the location of places in Milan, and for getting a good idea of where certain places are:


Feel free to click and drag around inside this interactive map of all the Ring Roads of Milan. You can also go to the larger original Milanfinally Google Map of the Ring Roads of Milan, ancient walls & modern routes (Circonvallazioni di Milano).




- Ring of National Bypass Motorways ("Tangenziali"). A circle that is yet to be completely joined. (SEE more images and click the following link for a more detailed article on the Ring of National Bypass Motorways around Milan.)

roadworks still in progress to complete Tangenzailae A52 along SP 46 and SP 33 which will join together the entire Ring of National Bypass Motorways around the outside of Milan
Google Streetview shows ongoing roadworks still in 2015 to upgrade SP 46 (Strada Provinciale) and also SP 33 (the missing links in A52) so that Tangenziale A52 can be complete - then the entire Ring of of National Bypass Motorways around Milan (Tangenziali) will have been joined up.  You can also go to the original streetview on Google Maps.




- External Ring Road ("Circonvallazione esterna"),  put on paper in Milan's first city plan of 1884, the "Beruto Plan". (SEE more images and click the following link for a more detailed article on it and on transport options for the External Ring Road.)

the Beruto Plan, Milan's first city plan - an old paper edition - showing the route for Milan's External Ring Road
This 1884 city plan for Milan by a seemingly faceless city Chief Engineer, Cesare Beruto - a plan that has had a great impact on city life and development, and has served Milan well for over a hundred years - show its direct relationship to the External Ring Road "Circonvallazione esterna" that exists to this day.




- Inner Ring Road ("Circonvallazione interna"), the "Cerchia dei Bastioni" of the 16th century Spanish Walls, now marking most of Milan's "Area C" for traffic control. (SEE more images and click the following link for a more detailed article on it and on transport options for the Inner Ring Road.)

gates of Milan's old Spanish Walls - the Inner Ring Road now travels along this old Cerchia dei Bastioni
The gates in the old Spanish Walls of Milan, with many familiar names of present day districts (See this image in the Italian article on the Gates of Milan in Milanofree.it). The Inner Ring Road now follows the course of this "Circle of Bastions".




- Ring of roads following the Circle of Canals ("Cerchia dei Navigli") along the Medieval Walls that marks the historical centre of Milan ("Centro Storico"). (SEE more images and click the following link to read a more detailed post on it and on transport options for the Cerchia dei Navigli.)

the canals of Milan's Cerchi dei Navigli around the old Medieval Walls were filled-in in the 19th century
The medieval moats were turned into canals, and those canals of the "Cerchia dei Navigli" disappeared by being filled-in during the 19th century; but the name remained to describe the circle of roads that followed along the path of that Circle of Canals that went around the old Medieval Walls of Milan.




- Lost Path of the Roman Walls of Milan. (SEE more images and click the following link for a more detailed article on it and on transport options for the Lost Path of Milan's Roman Walls.)

book cover of the biography by J. McCall, of the Roman conqueror over the northern Italian Celtic Gauls - Marcus Claudius Marcellus
Marcus Claudius Marcellus - depicted on the cover of this book by Jeremiah McCall, the only biography of this Roman hero and leader - was the Roman leader and general, elected co-Consul of the Roman Republic, famed for gaining northern Italy for Rome from the population of Celtic Gauls there, including their main settlement at Mediolanum-Milan, and killing his adversary the king of those Gauls with his very own own spear. Despite having taken Mediolanum in 222 BC, the Roman Walls around Milan were not built until some centuries later during the times of Julius Caesar in the mid 1st century AD. SEE more in the article on the Origins and Foundation of the City of Milan.


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