In 1497, Ludovico il Moro called upon Donato Bramante to expand what had been - before it was turned over to the Cistercian order in the late 15th century - the most powerful and influential Benedictine monastery in northern Italy. Although Bramante was hired to add four grandiose cloisters, only two were completed (an Ionic one in 1513 and a Doric one in 1630).
As a result of an agreement between the Catholic Church and the Fascist government, the ex-monastery became home in 1921 to the Catholic university. Throughout the 1930s and '40s, architect Giovanni Muzio overhauled the complex in his characteristic dry, straightforward style. The student life has proved more colourful than the architecture: the 1968 protests kicked off here.