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Milan is located in the north-western section of the Po Valley, between the Po River and the Alps and Italian lakes region. The concentric layout of the city center has been influenced by the Navigli, an ancient system of navigable and interconnected canals, now mostly covered. There are only few remains of the ancient Roman colony of Mediolanum. With edict of Milan in 313 AD, several basilicas were built by the city gates, still standing and refurbished over the centuries. The cathedral was built between 1386 and 1577, is the fifth largest in the world and the most important example of Gothic architecture in Italy. In the 15th century, an old fortress was enlarged and embellished to become the Castello Sforzesco, the seat of an elegant Renaissance court surrounded by a walled hunting park.
Economy with a GDP estimated at €132.5 billion, the Milan metro area generates approximately 9% of the national GDP and is home to more than 8 percent of all businesses in Italy, including a large number of media and advertising agencies. Milan is a major world fashion center - 12,000 companies, 800 show rooms, and 6,000 sales outlets - and manufacturing center. Other important products made here include chemicals, machinery, pharmaceuticals and plastics. Other key sectors in the city's economy are advanced research in health and biotechnologies, engineering, banking and finance.
Museums and Art Galleries the Brera Portrait Gallery holds one of the foremost collections of Italian paintings. The Sforza Castle hosts numerous art collections and exhibitions, especially statues, ancient arms and furniture. Leonardo worked here from 1482 until 1499 and was commissioned to paint the Virgin of the Rocks and the Last Supper. Milan was affected by the Baroque in the 17th and 18th centuries, hosting numerous artists, architects and painters of that period, such as Caravaggio. In the 20th century, the city was the epicenter of the Futurist artistic movement. The Museo del Novecento is a 20th Century art gallery with sections dedicated to Futurism, Spatialism and Poor Art.
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Music Milan is a major national and international center of the performing arts, most notably opera. La Scala is considered one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world, hosting the premieres of numerous operas since the mid19th century. Other major theatres in Milan include the Arcimboldi and the Lirico. The city also has a renowned symphony orchestra, conservatory and is a major center for musical composition.
Fashion and Shopping Milan is a global capital in industrial design, fashion and architecture. As the commercial capital of Italy and one of Europe's most dynamic cities, it accounts for the lion’s share of the fashion trade, with some of the most renowned fashion houses headquartered here. Its upscale fashion district- quadrilatero della moda – and Galleria (world’s first shopping mall) offer the best shopping opportunities anywhere.
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Architecture and Design the city’s modern skyscrapers and unique liberty style office and apartment buildings make it a trend setter in architecture. Milan is also a leader in high-quality furniture and interior design and is home to Europe's largest permanent trade exhibition – FieraMilano - and one of the most prestigious international furniture and design fairs. Milan is presently undergoing a massive urban renewal with several famous architects taking part in projects such as EXPO 2015.
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