The Duomo of Milano, the Cathedral at the heart of the city, is an architectural masterpiece that remains imprinted in the memory of all those who visit Milano. The thousands of intricately carved spires and statues, like a marble forest, are an awesome sight for those exiting the Metro or arriving from Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. It is not surprising to learn that its construction, which began in 1386 and lasted almost half a millennium, was commissioned by the Duke of Milano Gian Galeazzo Visconti as a symbol of the glory and grandeur of the city.
Milano’s Duomo is the largest and most elaborate Gothic building in Italy: made of pink-hued white marble from a dedicated quarry, it is 157 meters in length and 108.5 meters high at the top of the main spire, where rests the glistening golden statue of the Madonnina, an evocative symbol much-loved both by all Milanese and visitors. It is not generally known that there are quite a few copies of Milano’s Madonnina around the world, including one on Mount Everest.
The Duomo is also the largest Gothic building in the world whose rooftop you can actually walk on. A visit up to the terraces is highly recommended to admire the unmissable panorama of the city and the mountains in the distance. It is rightfully one of the most breath-taking of the 10 places to see Milano from above.
“Every evening I went out, around one in the morning, to take another look at the Milan Duomo. This church, lit by a beautiful moon, offers a vision of ravishing beauty to the world. Never before has architecture awakened such sensations in me”
Stendhal, November 5th, 1816
We suggest you walk beneath the ancient vaults to have a look around, but you will also find yourself looking upwards in awe, as the Duomo is the only church in the world that has sky-high statues on the pinnacles of its columns. One stops to consider that the statues surrounding the altar were already in place before Christopher Columbus discovered America.
Not to mention the fascination of the ancient remains located under the parvis of the church, which are over a thousand years old and have witnessed the deeds of Ambrose and Augustine.
If you want to find out even more about the history of the Duomo, and admire the intricacies of the statues, do not miss the chance of a visit to the Museo del Duomo, just by the cathedral, where many original artworks from the church are displayed.
All the info on opening hours, prices, promotions, guided tours is on the official website.
NOT TO BE MISSED
Click here to find the 10 things not-to-be-missed when visiting the Duomo.
- In an attempt to avoid attracting the attention of the Allied bombers during the Second World War, the Milanese covered the gilded surface of the statue of the Madonnina with rags.
- A typical expression in the local dialect, a uf (free, without charge), seems in some way linked to the Milano Duomo. According to tradition, it all started from the heading "AUF - Ad Usum Fabricae", written on the marble slabs destined for the Cathedral’s construction site, which were exempt from customs duty.
Themed guided tours of the Duomo are available every day: a great opportunity to get to know more about the history and the secrets of the Cathedral. Children tours are also available. Find the complete calendar on the official website.
AROUND THE DUOMO
Being at the very heart of the city the Duomo is surrounded by many landmarks: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Museo del Duomo, Palazzo Reale the city’s most important exhibition venue, Museo del Novecento, a major collection of Italian Modernist paintings, La Rinascente, Italy’s most storied fashion department store for Italian and foreign brands - plus the surrounding shopping streets, displaying opportunities for every budget.
And if you start feeling you need some food after all this, there are plenty of historical eateries around, whether you are looking for traditional Milanese treats or just for a mouth-watering panzerotto.