Leonardo’s mural is one of the most famous and most admired works in all of art history. However, the process of decay, which already started soon after its creation, only allows a faint glimpse of its original beauty.
Since Leonardo worked on the painting very slowly, he could not use the usual fresco technique, by which one painted on fresh plaster. Instead, he painted over a mix of oil and tempura, as one would for a panel painting, and underestimated the dampness of the brick wall. Thus, restoration work started soon after Leonardo died in 1519. In 1652 the monks cut a door into the wall below the Christ figure and the original was often badly damaged by restorations. Napoleon’s troops turned the refectory into a horse stall. During the last war a protective barricade of sand bags rescued the painting. In 1999 the last restoration work was completed, but moisture, mould and changes in temperature continue to afflict the painting. Work must be done on the painting time and again due to environmental influences.
An advance reservation and advance payment are required for visits to admire Leonardo’s world-famous work.
Visitors reach the refectory through a special entrance to the left of the church. Only small groups of no more than 25 people can view the painting at a time, in 15-minute intervals. Visitors must pass through three checkpoints for safety as well as dust protection of the painting.
There are no group discounts.
It is very hard to get tickets for an entire group, therefore the tickets should already be booked several months in advance, but even then there is no guarantee.