Milan’s Cathedral, or Duomo, is a much-loved symbol of the city. The most exuberant example of Northern Gothic in Italy, its spiky spires and towers dominate Piazza del Duomo, Milan’s beating heart.
It is the largest and most complex Gothic building in Italy, made of pink-veined white marble from the Candoglia quarries, in the Val d’Ossola. It is 157 metres in length and covers an area of 11,700 m2. The highest spire measures 108.5 and, in October 1774, the golden 4,16 metre-high statue of the Madonna by the sculptor Giuseppe Perego was placed on its pinnacle.
The Marble Facade of Milan’s Cathedral
In 1386 started the works of the cathedral under the reign of Gian Galeazzo Visconti. During the construction period of five centuries, numerous architects worked at the Duomo. In 1567, work began on the facade in classical baroque style. During the long construction period, a variety of styles and shapes have been incorporated into the construction. In 1805 the work on the façade was completed. The construction of the towers on the roof continued until the 19th Century.
Madonnina and cathedral spiers
The Duomo’s exterior is an upwardly thrusting collection of pinnacles, elongated statues and buttresses. The central spire is topped by a gilt statue of the Madonna, called the Madonnina.
A total of 3,400 statues perched on the tops of the cathedral. The highest point of the dome occupies the Madonnina, the 4.16m large golden statue at 108.50 m Height shines afar in the sun.
Inside of Milan Cathedral
Inside one of the world’s largest churches, it takes a few moments for your eyes to adjust to the candle-lit ambiance as you take in the cathedral’s nave, altars, aisles and stained-glass windows.
The interior is shaped like a Latin cross and has large choir stalls and a polygonal apse. The style is mostly Late Gothic with the addition of classical elements from the Counter Reformation period when the presbytery, the main altar, the pulpit and some side altars were all created.
The crypt houses the chapel of S.Carlo Borromeo, designed by Francesco Maria Ricchino in 1606, with the rock crystal coffin which encloses the saint’s body in pontifical dress.
Milan Cathedral is a sacred place in which it people pray and confess, and where regular holy Masses are celebrated. In the cathedral is to preserve silence and cell phones are off.
Entry is only allowed in appropriate clothing. Tourists in shorts and strapless shirts will be denied admission.
In case of religious ceremonies or special events may cause the closure of the cathedral.
Roof terraces of the Milan Cathedral
One of the highlights of a visit to the cathedral is the view from the roof – on a clear day you can see the Italian Alps. Take the steps if you’re fit (or the lift if you’re not) to peer over the city of Milan, surrounded by statues and spiky towers.
The cathedral roof, constructed from Candoglia marble from Lago Maggiore, too, presented a unique innovation in the construction of cathedrals.
On 8000 m² roof surface you can admire the 135 soaring spiers of the cathedral.
A particular pleasure is to walk on the roof of the cathedral. On the north side a staircase and an elevator run to the roof terrace on the roof
Then you are surrounded by over 4000 marble figures Guglie, the peakes of figures and ornaments, of which each is a unique piece.
Admire the magnificent view over the rooftops of the city of Milan:
- The cross in steel and glass, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
- the Rinascente department store right next to the Cathedral
- the new skyline of Milan, in the area of Garibaldi
- the outstanding football stadium San Siro
- the first skyscraper in Milan, Torre Velasca behind the Royal Palace Palazzo Reale.
On a clear day you can see the entire northern Alps, starting with the Monte Rosa massif in the west, through the Swiss Alps, the foothills above Como and Bergamo to the Bernina top.
To the south the view extends to about 300 km distant Monte Viso on the French border in the southwest and the chain of the Apennines from Genoa.
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