The Duomo of Milan

The Duomo of Milan: this is an excerpt from the book “Milan” by Enrico Massetti. – The independent, unbiased, and accurate guide to the city.

Bryce Edwards Duomo di Milano
Photo Bryce Edwards – Duomo di Milano

The Duomo, which traditionally symbolizes the city of Milan, is the most extraordinary example of Italian late Gothic art. It ranks third regarding dimension after the Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in Rome and Seville’s Cathedral. Located in the very heart of the city, it represents both the core of the town and the unavoidable destination of countless visitors from Italy and abroad.

Mark Twain was a great fan of the Duomo of Milan

Mark can take over the description (from Innocents Abroad ) from here:

What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A real-world of substantial weight, and however, it seems a delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath!…

Stained Glass Windows
Stained Glass Windows

Away above, on the lofty roof, rank on rank of carved and fretted spires spring high in the air, and through their rich tracery one sees the sky beyond. …(Up on) the roof…springing from its broad marble flagstones, were the long files of spires, looking very tall close at hand, but diminishing in the distance…We could see, now, that the statue on the top of each was the size of a large man, though they all looked like dolls from the street…

They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St. Peter’s in Rome. I cannot understand how it can be second to anything made by human hands.

Duomo - Interior
Duomo – Interior
The story of the construction of the Duomo of Milan.

The construction of the Duomo di Milano began in 1386, promoted by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, lord of Milan, and continued for centuries.

Pinkish-white marble covers the Duomo entirely from its base. Five large portals carry high-reliefs illustrating sacred and historical scenes in the façade. “The life of Sant’Ambrogio” is one of them. Full slabs of marble make up the roof of the Duomo. You can reach it by a steep external staircase of 919 steps, carved between the left side and the transept.

From the Duomo roof
From the Duomo roof – Photo © Javier

The effort of “climbing” the Duomo rewards you by the magnificent view of the surrounding plain up to the Alps. If the weather is ungenerous, it will still be possible to enjoy the vision of the “Madonnina.” The golden statue of the Virgin Mary, the 135 lace-like spires, and the many sculptures which decorate the roof.

Duomo of Milan

On entering the majestic interior of the cross-shaped Cathedral, the sight goes to the polychrome stained glass windows depicting scenes from the life of the saints. Fifty-two gigantic pillars topped by a series of niches with statues divide the eight naves of the Cathedral.

You have to pay a ticket to enter the Duomo. You do not need advance reservations, as the capacity of the Duomo is great. Lines are only present during the most frequented tourist seasons.

The Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo is the institution that oversees the Duomo, their website is interesting and you can buy tickets.

End of the excerpt, the full content of the book “Milan” without advertising.

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