The city of Milan is Italy's economic capital, home to the Italian Stock Exchange (Borsa Italiana) and the headquarters of many of the country's big corporations. Milan is Italy's second largest city, with a population of over 1.3 million. Famous as the 'style capital of the world', Milan is where Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Gucci all launched their careers in the fashion industry.
Benito Mussolini, as editor of the Milan-based socialist newspaper "Avanti!", founded the Italian Fascist Party in Milan in 1919. During World War II, Milan suffered extensive bombing that destroyed many of the ancient and historic buildings in the city center - as a result, the city center is an architectural mix of old and new, while Milan has the distinction of being Italy's most modern city.
The 'Teatro alla Scala' is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, which is located in Milan's historic center. La Scala has suffered a variety of disasters since it opened in 1778, having already been built from the ashes of the Teatro Regio Ducale, which was destroyed by fire on the same site in 1776. In 1943, during World War II, the theater was fire-bombed. It was reopened in 1946. Most recently, the theater underwent a major refurbishment from 2002 to 2004; it is still one of the world's foremost opera venues. Santa Maria delle Grazie The 'Holy Mary of Grace' is a church in Milan which has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status - largely because it contains the mural of the Last Supper, one of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous works.
The 'Duomo di Milano' is the fourth largest cathedral in the world (the largest Gothic cathedral) and took nearly six centuries to complete. The famous white marble cathedral has hundreds of spires, large and small, while there are thousands of statues adorning its famous façade. It is possible to climb to the top of the cathedral for superb views across Milan from the rooftop.
The Castello Sforzesco is the former residence of the Duchy of Milan, located in the center of the city. Once one of the most refined noble houses in Europe, today the castle is home to 12 different museums and archives, with varied exhibitions from Palaeolithic history through to 1950s furniture.