The painting (it's not a fresco) is located in the refectory, accessible at the back of the church via a separate entrance. Every 15 minutes groups of 25 people are let in. You go through a series of electronic doors, opened up one by one to heighten the anticipation. It made me think of the same spectacle at the Altamira Cave. However that is only a replica, while this is the real thing.
My mother and I were the first to enter the huge dining hall. It has the Last Supper covering the complete wall on your right hand, and a Crucifixion fresco by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano doing the same on the left.
There are benches to sit on from where you can quietly take it all in. The painting is unbelievably bright, it has been restored many times as the paint will not hold very long on the dry wall. Unfortunately they haven't been able to "brush away" the large door opening in the center that hides Jesus' feet.
After our scheduled 15 minutes gazing at the paintings was over, we visited the Church & Convent next door. It has a spectacular dome by Donato Bramante, and is quite odd shaped in general. The interior is made out of marble and terra cotta. There is also a lovely cloister.
I visited this WHS in June 2007. You have to book well in advance to see The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. I was bewildered to learn that this famous masterpiece was for some time a mere stable decoration!!! Unbelievable!
Date posted: September 2012 Adrian Lakomy (Slovakia; currently Czech republic):
The church is beautiful and the town of Milan too. Most of the guidebooks says Milan is nothing special, but i enjoyed the 2 days there much (one more day would be better). There are many places which are worth to see.
As mentioned below - it is quite difficult to see The Last supper, because of the plenty of tourists who want to see it. For the last moment travellers i can mention www.zaniviaggi.it who has tickets - of course for a higher price as part of a guided tour. This is the way how i got in and i can recommend the tour.
The church is very nice, i enjoyed the stay inside as there was a mass and it was quite magical. The painting itself is not in church but in refectory and in the same room is another master piece - Crucifixation.
I hope i will have a chance to get to Milan once again
Date posted: March 2009 David Berlanda (Italy / Czech Republic):
I have been many times in Milan and visited the stunning Gothic and Renaissance complex of Santa Maria delle Grazie built from 1463 to 1490 by Guiniforte Solari, reworked by Donato Bramante from 1492 and restored by Luca Beltrami in 1895, after its transformation in barracks and the begin of the demolition. The façade of the church has a nice portal and the apse, projected by Bramante, has a cubic block of base with lateral apses and the apse of the presbytery in form of a parallelepiped; the dome has sixteen sides, with a gallery of double columns that supports the roof that is supported inside the church by four arches and pendetives. In the interior, projected by Solari, there are three Gothic naves with two rows of columns, ogival vaulting and a double row of lateral chapels. The vaults have nice frescos, discovered after being hid in the 16th century, the pillars of the lateral naves are decorated with frescos of saints painted by Bernardino Butinone and some frescos in the lateral chapels are by Gaudenzio Ferrari. There is also a nice tomb sculpted by Francesco Cazzaniga and a painting by Paris Bordone. The chapel of Madonna delle Grazie, reconstructed after the Second World War, contains a painting revered during a pestilence that gives name to the complex. The presbytery has a cap vault and some oculus and contains two rows of wooden choir inlayed stalls. The convent, seat from 1552 to 1778 of the Inquisition of Milan, has a beautiful small choir and a sacristy, constructed in 1499 and restored in 1982, that contains the remains of frescos and inlayed and painted cupboards. In the refectory there is the stunning Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, that represents the moment when Jesus says to the apostles that somebody of them will betray him. It has big conservative problems because is painted with a particular technique unstable on the plaster. The humidity of the local, the settlings of the wall, that have caused breaks in the support of the painting, are also problems. It was restored many times, the last time from 1977 to 1995.
This church is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen because of the beauty and the perfection of its architecture, but I am disappointed by the fact that I haven't seen yet the Last Supper, that can be viseted only on booking long time before you go there. It's absolutely worth to be visited and justifies the inscription also because the Last Supper is the most famous wall painting in the world, even if the castle and some other churches in Milan (like Duomo, St. Ambrogio, St. Lawrence the Major and St. Eustorgio) could be inscribed alone or with this one.
Date posted: March 2006 Ian Cade (England):
The Last Supper (Canacolo) is such a famous image and I have seen versions of it at many other UNESCO sites made from many materials (salt and iron stand out in my memory) so there is no doubt about the validity of its inclusion on the list. The fresco sits in the refecroy of the convent and is in a reasonably poor state of repair due to restoration attempts, the odd technique that da Vinci employed to apply it and the idea of the Dominicans to enlarge the doorway thus cutting off Christ’s legs. The already famous image has also seen an upsurge in interest due to the international bestseller ‘The da Vinci Code’. It is a very impressive piece of work overall and well worth the hassle of getting tickets and going through several de-humidifying chambers.
The church itself is simple with some nice frescos, however the apse (pictured) and cloister designed by Bramante are very impressive and twined with the Cenacolo reflect a large change in artistic style.
I am surprised that I am the first person to write a review of this site as it is so famous. The church is in Milan and very easy to reach, the real problems start with being able to get a ticket to see it. You will have to RESERVE well in advance. The link that Els has given above is the official ticket office, and is the best place to get tickets from as they are the cheapest, however when I tried this it was booked up almost entirely for the next 3 months! So look as early as possible. In the end I had to unfortunately go through other channels to get my tickets, an internet search should give you plenty of options the cheapest I found was the confusingly titled www.weekendafirenze.com, in the end it cost me €12,50 per ticket including the audio guide (which I would highly recommend!).
Milan itself was a nice city, more functional than touristy, however the Duomo is hugely impressive I am sure if it was in another country it would be a WHS. This site was worth the effort to get to see, it is one of the most famous pieces of art in Western culture and fully deserving of its place on the list.
Date posted: November 2005
Have you been to Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with "The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci ? Share your experiences!