Circle of Canals (Cerchia dei Navigli) encircling Milan's "Centro Storico" along its previous Medieval Walls

There is another ring of roads even further in than the Inner Ring Road, but this ring road is given the historical name of "Cerchia dei Navigli" (circle of canals) rather than being referred to as a ring road, and is important for encircling the historical centre of Milan known as the "Centro Storico" (SEE ALL of the ring roads on the interactive Milanfinally Ring Roads of Milan Google Map). How this "Cerchia dei Navigli" system of roads came about is as follows:

The medieval walls of Milan were built in the 12th Century, mostly as a defense against Frederick I Barbarossa, who repeatedly raided Lombardy. The perimeter of the medieval walls essentially correspond to what is now known as the 'Cerchia dei Navigli' ('Navigli Ring'), a ring of streets that enclose the historic centre of the city [Centro Storico]... Most of the medieval walls were demolished between the 16th and 19th Century. The moats remained and [were] used as canals. (Wikipedia, Walls of Milan)
So these city walls are known as the Medieval Walls, and the moat or moats around them were later turned into canals. It was these walls that caused the 13th century Bonvesin da la Riva to remark about the perfection of the city's roundness.

Medieval map of Milan from the Vatican Library, drawn in 1472, shows the walled Milan as very round and circular
Click image to enlarge. This 1472 map of Milan from the Vatican Library shows the kind of roundness that Bonvesin da la Riva remarked upon around two centuries earlier. On this map, the gates in the city wall are named: Porta Comasina (later Porta Garibaldi), Porta Nuova, Porta Renza (another name of Porta Orientale, which was later renamed Porta Venezia), Porta Tosa (later Porta Vittoria), Porta Romana, Porta Ticinese and Porta Vercellina (later Porta Magenta).

All six gates in these Medieval Walls had their equivalent in the later and larger 16th century Spanish Walls: Porta Comasina (the name of the gate in the Spanish Wall was changed to Porta Garibaldi in 1860), Porta Nuova, Porta Orientale (the name of the gate in the Spanish Wall was changed to Porta Venezia in 1862), Porta Romana, Porta Ticinese and Porta Vercellina (the name of the gate in the Spanish Wall was changed to Porta Magenta in 1860). Porta Tosa (between Porta Orientale and Porta Romana) was considered a minor gate (the name of the gate in the Spanish Wall was changed to Porta Vittoria in 1861)

The moats that became canals were filled-in during the 19th century, with this work finally completed as part of the "Beruto Plan", Milan's first city plan which created the "Circonvallazione esterna" external ring road. A few gates (including the Medieval gates of Porta Nuova and Porta Ticinese along the Cerchia dei Navigli - for which later Spanish Wall equivalents also exist further out along the Inner Ring Road route), and a few remnants of walls still remain of the Medieval Wall.

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.

Currently, Bus 94 covers most of the Cerchia dei Navigli around the circumference of the Centro Storico. However, as with tram coverage of the Inner Ring Road, a small northern section of the circle (Brera) is not served by Bus 94. Starting from Cadorna Station (including Metro M1 and M2 stations, suburban commuter lines and the special Malpensa Airport service) on the western side of the Sforza Castle, Bus 94 follows the Circle quite faithfully most of the way around. When Bus 94 nears the southwest corner of the Giardini Pubblici in the northeastern part of the circle, it leaves the Cerchia dei Navigli at Piazza Cavour (going past the Turati M3 Metro Station), then goes through the Moscova district along Via dell Moscova (passing Moscova M2 Metro Station), and terminates a little further north at the border between the Garibaldi and the Chinatown areas.

route map of Bus 94 along most of the Cerchie Dei Navigli ring road around Milan's Centro Storico - taken from an interactive Google Map of the route
Click link to go to the original interactive route map of Bus 94 using Google Transit. Bus 94 covers most of the Cerchia dei Navigli around the circumference of Milan's Centro Storico. You can also get the route and more details at Giromilano; and also on Muoversi.milano.it (use the Transport tab or the Calculate Route tab)


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