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Last Supper - Santa Maria delle Grazie

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The church and Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Milan. It’s not only a stunning combination of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, but its refectory is home to one of the world’s most famous paintings. Booking entrance tickets to The Last Supper (Il Cenacolo or L’Ultima Cena) by Leonardo da Vinci or a guided tour with skip-the-line access will assure you get to see not just one of Milan’s most popular attractions but also one of the most famous paintings in the world!

⚠️ Closed until further notice:
Regarding the current situation related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), this attraction is closed at the moment in order to help prevent further spreading of the virus.
Anneliese O'MalleyBy Anneliese O'Malley
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Book tickets get Skip-the-Line-access to Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
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Da Vinci’s Last Supper Ticket and Tour
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4 Tips for Visiting the Last Supper - Santa Maria delle Grazie

The Last Supper
1
Booking in Advance is EssentialOnly 30 people are allowed to see the painting at a time and time slots are 15 minutes long - those two factors mean that the number of available Last Supper tickets is limited to about 1300 a day. Basic tickets sell out on the official page months in advance, usually snapped up by tour companies, so if you’re determined to buy direct then you’ll have to watch the website like a hawk so that you don’t miss out.
Santa Maria delle Grazie | Photo: Flickr, Davide Oliva - CC BY-SA 2.0
2
Try a City Tour if Tickets are Sold OutIf regular tickets are sold out then you can likely still find a way to see the painting last-minute by visiting with a guided tour. That way you won’t miss out, and you’ll have an expert with you who can answer all your questions! If you decide not to take a guided tour, make sure you research the history and symbolism of the painting before you go so you can fully enjoy your time with the painting.
3
Plan Your Day Around The Last SupperYou should plan about 45 minutes for your visit. You’ll have to wait until your time slot, then you’ll be taken into a room with historical information about the painting, and then you’ll have 15 minutes in the presence of the artwork. If you’re taking a guided tour to see the Last Supper, your guide might spend more time giving you details and answering questions before and after.
4
Don’t Forget To Look at the Other FrescoThe Last Supper isn’t the only artwork on display - on the opposite wall is the Crucifixion by Giovanni Donato. It’s a much less famous work by a much less famous painter, but it’s still an impressive example of an (actual) Renaissance fresco. It might also give you a good idea about why The Last Supper was considered to be such a masterpiece.
The Entrance to The Last Supper | Flickr: Richard Mortel CC BY 2.0

The Last Supper: How to Buy Tickets

Visitors wanting to see The Last Supper should note that you have to buy your tickets in advance. Timeslots for the tour sell out weeks in advance, so once you know the dates you’re heading to Milan make sure that you book tickets to Santa Maria delle Grazie as quickly as you can.

Book Directly

You can book tickets for entrance to the Museum of the Last Supper either through the online portal, via email, or telephone. New tickets are released about two to three months in advance, though there’s no fixed rule. The timeslots at 9.30 am and 3.30 pm include a guided tour in English, and those at 10 am and 4 pm include a guided tour in Italian.

Tour Providers

When the tickets on the official site have sold out, it’s always worth booking via a trusted third-party provider, who will often still have tickets available even at the last minute. These tours may include more than just entry to The Last Supper, with some offering a guided tour of Milan’s center, the Duomo of Milan, or Sforza Castle.
The Last Supper | Dimitris Kamaras CC BY 2.0

Visiting The Last Supper: What to Expect

A visit to The Last Supper isn’t your standard trip to an art gallery or tour of a church. This short guide will help you to prepare for your visit.

On-Time Actually Means Early

Your slot to see The Last Supper is only 15 minutes long, so it’s easy to miss it if your public transport plan goes awry or you end up spending longer at lunch than you expect. You’re advised to arrive at least 20 minutes before your timeslot or the start time of your tour so that staff can check your ticket and have you lined up to enter with the rest of your group.

Do Your Research

Before you enter the room with the painting, you’ll spend a short while in a room that gives some context to its creation. It will tell you about the history of the monastery which houses the painting and the Sforza family which originally commissioned it to decorate the planned family mausoleum. However, the number of people and the limited time you spend in this room mean that you might not get to read everything, so it’s worth doing a little bit of research before your visit.

Consider a Tour

There are four tours available every day, two in Italian and two in English. One of each takes place in the morning and one in the afternoon. Taking the tour doesn’t mean that you’ll get to spend more time with the painting, but it does mean that you’ll get some more context from an expert guide. You can also ask your tour guide any questions you might have about the painting, Da Vinci, or conservation.

Take Some Photographs

There are strict rules about photography in the room that houses The Last Supper but don’t worry, you’ll still be able to take a picture for your family album. Just be aware that flash photography isn’t allowed, and visitors are also not allowed to take videos of the painting. In any case, we’d recommend putting the camera away for the first five minutes and just absorbing the atmosphere that comes from looking at a work of genius.

How to Get to Santa Maria delle Grazie

Public Transport

It takes about 20 minutes to walk to Santa Maria delle Grazie from the Duomo, so if the weather is nice you might consider this option. The closest metro stops are Conciliazione (for the M1 line) or Cadorna (for M1 and M2), but you’ll still need to walk for 10 minutes before you reach the church. Tram number 16 will drop you off directly in the square.

Driving

Driving in Milan isn’t really recommended, and Santa Maria della Grazie is inside the city’s restricted driving zone. That means that only local residents or those with the appropriate passes can enter, and all other drivers will incur a fine. If you’re intending to drive in Milan, or to Milan from another city, it’s best to find a parking lot on the outskirts and then use public transport to get around the city during the day.

The Last Supper: A Little Art History

The Last Supper is one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most iconic works and is considered a masterpiece of the ‘Western canon’ of art history. You’ll definitely recognize it, whether from history textbooks or one of the huge number of interpretations or parodies - everyone from Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol to the Simpsons has made their own version. You might also know it from The Da Vinci Code (the book or the film), and you might also recall some of the alleged symbolism hidden in the painting that caused controversy and sparked conspiracy theories.
Judas Iscariot, Peter, and John | Dimitris Kamaras CC BY 2.0

A Frozen Moment in Time

The painting shows the moment at the Last Supper when Jesus announces that one of his apostles will betray him, and the expressions on the faces of the other people present reveal their shock and anger at the news. Look out for Judas Iscariot, his face turned away from the viewer and in shadow, clutching a bag in his hand that might contain the silver pieces he was paid to betray Christ, knocking over a bowl of salt with his elbow. Meanwhile, Jesus sits with a tragic expression in the center, his hands reaching for the bread and wine that will make up the first Holy Communion. The painting originally looked over the monks of the church in their dining room, so even though it’s a moment of drama it also represents the sharing of food and drink in brotherhood.
Jesus Christ in the Center | Dimitris Kamaras CC BY 2.0

To Fresco, or Not to Fresco?

Although The Last Supper is often described as a fresco (because it’s painted on a wall), it actually isn’t one. Traditional frescoes are painted by adding water and pigment to wet plaster so that when it dries the painting is part of the wall. The problem for Leonardo da Vinci was that traditional fresco painting doesn’t allow the artist to alter the painting as they work - once the plaster is dry then you’re left with what’s on the wall. Instead, Leonardo da Vinci decided to seal the stone wall with a double layer of plaster, before adding a white lead undercoat. Then he painted using oil and tempera, which meant he could work slowly and develop the lighting and shadows which are a key part of his style. It made for a beautiful piece of art, but one which is much harder to preserve than traditional frescos.
John or Mary Madgalene? | Dimitris Kamaras CC BY 2.0

Mysteries and Secrets

Have you read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown? If you have then you’ll be delighted to see the painting at the heart of it all and to see its mysteries up close. Most famously, Dan Brown’s novel (and some art historians) speculates that the disciple usually designated as John is really a woman, Mary Magdalene. The figure has a feminine face, similar to the Mona Lisa, Da Vinci’s later work, but if it is a depiction of Mary Magdalene then it means the scene is missing a disciple. The painting also contains several objects laid out in threes: the windows behind the table and the disciples are clustered in groups of three. Three is a sacred number in Christianity, representing the Holy Trinity and Christian art often features repeating threes in reference to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Damage Done to the Painting | Dimitris Kamaras CC BY 2.0

Keeping The Last Supper Safe

Damage to The Last Supper was already being reported in 1517 and by 1556 it was even being described as “ruined” by Giorgio Vasari. A doorway was cut through the wall in 1652, which was later closed with bricks, and in the 1760s a curtain hung to protect the painting only made things worse by trapping moisture on the surface. The first restoration attempt was in 1726 when Michelangelo Belotti filled in missing sections with oil paint before varnishing the whole wall. From then on, restorations only seemed to do more damage. In 1821 an expert in removing frescoes attempted to move the painting - he managed to damage the center of it considerably before realizing it wasn’t a fresco at all and trying to reattach the damaged parts with glue. The painting was lucky to survive World War II - if it weren’t for extensive sandbagging and protective scaffolding then it might have been destroyed along with a large part of the building. The most recent restoration took 21 years, finishing in 1999, and it tried to clean the painting, undo some of the earlier restoration attempts, and repaint some areas. Where possible the team used scientific tests to determine what the original painting was like, and where they couldn’t tell what used to exist they decided to paint it in muted watercolors rather than invent something. How well this was done and whether the work still looks like the original is a matter of debate among art historians.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I buy tickets for The Last Supper?

Tickets for The Last Supper can be bought directly from the venue online, via email, or via telephone. These tickets tend to sell out over a month in advance, so if you’ve missed out then there’s no need to panic. There are several reliable third-party providers who can provide you with a ticket. These products might also include a visit to the Duomo di Milano, Sforza Castle, or a guided tour of the city center of Milan. Read more.

Why can we only spend 15 minutes with the painting?

The Last Supper is extremely fragile and is kept in a hermetically sealed, windowless room so that the climate can be controlled to prevent any further damage. As a result, only 30 people can access the painting at once, and in order to accommodate the hundreds of visitors who want to see it daily, the time in the presence of the painting is restricted to 15 minutes. Read more.

Is it worth visiting the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie?

The Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie is a separate building to that which houses The Last Supper, and if you’re in Milan to visit the painting then you may as well see the peaceful church as well. The church houses a cultural center that often hosts exhibitions, and you can of course also attend mass, receive confession, and attend other religious services. Read more.

General Information

Opening Hours:

Santa Maria delle Grazie is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 8.15 am and 7 pm, with the last entry at 6.45 pm. The site is closed every Monday and January 1, May 1, and December 25.

⚠️ Closed until further notice:
Regarding the current situation related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), this attraction is closed at the moment in order to help prevent further spreading of the virus.

Address:

Last Supper Museum / Santa Maria delle Grazie
Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie 2
20123 Milan
Italy

Tickets:

Tickets must be reserved in advance. They cost €10, plus a minimum booking fee of €2. The Last Supper Guided tours cost €13.50 plus the €2 booking fee. Entry is €2 (plus the €3.50 guided tour fee if applicable, and €2 booking fee) for EU and EFTA citizens aged between 18 and 25 years. Entry is free (plus a €2 booking fee) for those under the age of 18 and disabled visitors.

How to get there:

Santa Maria delle Grazie can be easily reached by taking the metro to Conciliazione (on the red line) or Cardona (on the red and green lines), the convent is about a 5-minute walk away from either station. There are also trams (numbers 18 and 24) that stop in front of the venue. There is a restriction on who can drive in the city center of Milan, so unless you or a member of your group is disabled, you’re advised to leave your car in a car park on the outskirts of Milan.
Anneliese O'Malley
Written byAnneliese O'MalleyAnneliese is a former Londoner, keen traveler, and total word nerd. As a Content Management Specialist she knows the TicketLens inventory inside out and curates, matches, and writes about the most interesting attractions worldwide.
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