Milan Cathedral

Milan, Italy

Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano) is the third largest church in the world and it took nearly six centuries to complete.

History

Saint Ambrose built a new basilica on this site at the beginning of the 5th century, with an adjoining basilica added in 836. When fire damaged both buildings in 1075, they were rebuilt as the Duomo.

In 1386, Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo began construction of the cathedral. In 1389, a French chief engineer, Nicolas de Bonaventure, was appointed, adding to the church its Rayonnant Gothic, a French style not typical for Italy. He decided that the brick structure should be panelled with marble. Work proceeded quickly and in 1402 almost half the cathedral was complete. Construction, however, stalled almost totally until 1480, for lack of money and ideas.

In 1500 to 1510, under Ludovico Sforza, the octagonal cupola was completed, and decorated in the interior with four series of 15 statues each, portraying saints, prophets, sibyls and other Figures from the Bible. The exterior long remained without any decoration, except for the Guglietto dell'Amadeo ('Amadeo's Little Spire'), constructed 1507-1510. This is a Renaissance masterwork which nevertheless harmonized well with the general Gothic appearance of the church.

After the accession of Carlo Borromeo to the archbishop's throne, all lay monuments were removed from the Duomo. In 1575-1585 the presbytery was rebuilt, while new altars and the baptistry were added. The wooden choir stalls were constructed by 1614 for the main altar by Francesco Brambilla. In 1577 Borromeo finally consecrated the whole edifice as a new church.

At the beginning of the 17th century Federico Borromeo had the foundations of the new façade laid by Francesco Maria Richini and Fabio Mangone. Work continued until 1638 with the construction of five portals and two middle windows. In 1649, however, the new chief architect Carlo Buzzi introduced a striking revolution: the façade was to revert to original Gothic style, including the already finished details within big Gothic pilasters and two giant belfries. In 1762 one of the main features of the cathedral, the Madonnina's spire, was erected at the dizzying height of 108.5 m.

In 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte, about to be crowned King of Italy, ordered the façade to be finished by Pellicani. Within only seven years, the Cathedral's façade was completed. In the following years, most of the missing arches and spires were constructed. The statues on the southern wall were also finished, while in 1829-1858, new stained glass windows replaced the old ones, though with less aesthetically significant results. The last details of the cathedral were finished only in the 20th century: the last gate was inaugurated on January 6, 1965.

Architecture and art

The plan consists of a nave with four side-aisles, crossed by a transept and then followed by choir and apse. The roof is open to tourists (for a fee), which allows many a close-up view of some spectacular sculpture that would otherwise be unappreciated. The roof of the cathedral is renowned for the forest of openwork pinnacles and spires, set upon delicate flying buttresses.

The interior of the cathedral includes numerous monuments and artworks. At the left of the altar is located the most famous statue of all the Cathedral, the Saint Bartholomew Flayed (1562), by Marco d'Agrate, the saint shows his flayed skin thrown over his shoulders like a stole. There are also several sarcophagus of bishops and three magnificent altars by Pellegrino Pellegrini, which include the notable Federico Zuccari's Visit of St. Peter to St. Agatha jailed.

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Address

Piazza del Duomo, Milan, Italy
See all sites in Milan

Details

Founded: 1386
Category: Religious sites in Italy

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dagmara Bronik (13 months ago)
If you wish to explore the roof my recommendation would be to go there at 10 before the crowd. We only visited the roof by the elevator and I think it’s the perfect solution. You go down by the stairs and walk through the cathedral without the extra entrance ticket. The roof is amazing. So many pictures spot. Wish there is less constructions going on up there. Or at least they should charge less. Tip to take your best cathedral photo shoot - we got there at 6:40 am on Monday and they were some people already/garbage trucks/events happening. 6 am would be much better. Enjoy!
Eric Ameng (13 months ago)
A literal must see attraction if in Milan. The history matched with modern life in the plaza shows the rich past of Milan with the classic Milan style and shops. Rooftop is beautiful. Inside stunning. The stain glass was best I've seen. Absolutely awe inspiring being in the cathedral.
jaydev dev (13 months ago)
One of the most beautiful and lively places to be visited in one's life. This is an one time experience. Duomo di Milano not only gives the eyes a picturesque treat, but also a wonderful shopping experience. Yes, the world's famous and the top most luxury brands are to be picked from around the church. The most interesting part is that it offers all the " known for " things in Italy in walkable distance. It's a treat for the people who love to shop and click pictures. This place nearly makes one feel like that person has seen half of Italy and the tradition. It is better to visit this place during summer as the place is just very lively and happening.
Ed M C (14 months ago)
You never get bored admiring it. The most beautiful cathedral in North Italy, the center of Milan, Milan's religious heart and now also the center of Milan's shopping life. 5 euro ticket to enter inside and 10 euro to reach the top. Worth the visit, at least one time. The whiteness of the marble that shines in the blue background of the sunny days it's one of the most beautiful memories I will cherish from my university years here.
Paul Pilone (18 months ago)
My favorite cathedral of all time!! Blows Saint Peter away if you ask me. The artwork is flawless and superior to all other cathedrals I've been to and that's a lot. Absolutely spellbound by its magnificence! Truly a Christ Jesus.inspired work of art.
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