The City of Monza lies in the upper plain of Lombardy, on the southern edge of Brianza. Among the many towns of Longobard origin on the Route “Longobard Ways across Europe, Monza has been assigned the role of historical and cultural focus of the Route and principal town of the “Monza-Brianza Cluster”. This role rightly belongs to the town - in the Longobard context - on account of the moral and material heritage of the first Queen of Italy, Theodelinda, and of the artistic and monumental traces that bear witness to her presence and to her activity as founder of the Bavarian dynasty of Longobard kings who - following in the Queen's footsteps - led their people to accept Roman Catholicism, with fundamental cultural consequences for the later history of European civilization. Their intervention culminated in the extraordinary synthesis of Germanic, classical Greek and Roman, Byzantine oriental and Slav cultures and traditions that - as is now scientifically acknowledged - led to the birth of the first foundation of European Culture.

After the Longobards

After having played a significant and highly autonomous role at the time of the Communes - symbolised by the Arengario - Monza enjoyed a new season of great prestige thanks the attention reserved to the town by the Visconti, lords of Milan. The ambition of the Visconti family to justify their recent power as heirs of the Longobards resulted in the present form of the Cathedral and its further embellishment, especially with the sumptuous cycle of paintings adorning the Chapel of Theodelinda, illustrating her biography. The work was carried out on the occasion of the marriage of Bianca Maria Visconti to Francesco Sforza (1441), prelude to the rule of the Sforza family, which ended in the mid sixteenth century. There followed a complex period of Spanish, Austrian, French and again Austrian domination.

Maria Theresa and the Palace

The archetype of Monza as a royal city favoured new development under the Empress of Austria, Maria Theresa, who decided to have the imposing Palace built here, as a summer and ceremonial residence for the Governor of Austrian Lombardy. After her, it was the turn of the French under Napoleon to add another gem to Monza's treasures. Eugène de Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy, further enhanced the situation of the Palace with the creation of the Royal Park. After the return of the Austrians, the whole finally became the property of the Royal House of Savoia.

The Privileged Imperial Railway

Monza's central position in history and tourism, reinforced in the economic field by the birth of important manufacturing centres (textile industries, hat factories), favoured the Austro-Lombard decision (1839) to make the royal town the terminus of the first railway line in the North of Italy, starting from Milan (Privileged Imperial Railway). In the same year the Naples-Portici line was inaugurated, the first railway line in Italy. The Milan-Monza railway - which in the meantime had stimulated the birth of new businesses in Brianza - later earned another record, sign of the constant attention to progress: the first service in Italy using electric locomotives was adopted on the same Milan-Monza line.

The development of Monza

The development triggered and favoured by great historical events, accompanied - particularly in the 19th century - by the growth of a powerful industrial and handicraft sector (furniture, textiles, chemicals, new technologies, automation, farm food products) and of an advanced tertiary sector, transformed the city of Monza and the entire Brianza: a general cultural, technological and productive area that has become one of the most advanced in Europe.