Duomo Di Milan: The Cathedral of Milan
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Duomo Di Milan: The Cathedral of Milan

Located at Milan’s square, stands the magnificent Duomo di Milan – an elaborate Gothic cathedral. It is considered one of the most famous buildings in Europe. It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world.


Located at Milan’s square, stands the magnificent Duomo di Milan – an elaborate Gothic cathedral. It is considered one of the most famous buildings in Europe. It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world.

The vicinity plan of Milan, with streets diverging from the Duomo and around it indicates that the cathedral occupied the most important site in the ancient Roman city of Mediolanum. At the beginning of the 5th century, Saint Ambrose built an early Christian church on this site with an adjoining structure added in around 836. Unfortunately, a fire damaged both buildings in around 1075 but they were rebuilt as a Duomo.

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In 1386 the archbishop, Antonio da Saluzzo, began construction in a Rayonnant Late Gothic style that is more characteristic of France than Italy. The extraordinary Gothic Milan Cathedral took more than five centuries to complete.

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Made in white candoglia marble, a majestic construction of the 357-foot tall spire designed by Francesco Croce tops the glorious Duomo di Milano. On the top of the roof, in a height of 108 m, the golden statue Madonnina sit in state as a symbol of Milan. The beautiful golden polychrome statue called Madonnina that was carved by Guisepppe Perego in around 1762.

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Milan's Duomo is the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world: only Seville Cathedral is larger while http://St. Peter's Basilica doesn't count because it's not a cathedral. Milan Cathedral is 157 meters long and approximately 20-30,000 people can fit comfortably inside.

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The Duomo of Milan sparks the distinction between Gothic and neo-Gothic, for the Gothic west front was begun in 1616 and was completed after 200 years. The visibility date it’s Baroque and Neo-Classical style only be seen in its details. From 1900 some of the less Gothic details of the facade were replaced in a true Gothic style, designed by Giuseppe Brentano.

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The Terraces on the Roof of the Cathedral is constructed of Candoglia marble from the Maggiore Lake, from the quarries that Gian Galeazzo Visconti donated in perpetuity to the cathedral chapter. The roof-line resolves into openwork pinnacles that are punctuated by a grove of spires, topped with outstanding statues. The main spire is 109 meters high approximately.

Visitors who climbed the rooftop can admire a breathtaking view, framed by myriads of statues, pinnacles, tracery and flying buttresses including the detailed spires and the gargoyles which adorn the rooftop. The roofs are covered in slabs of Candoglia marble, in a total area of 8,000 square meters.

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Photo by Ben Zibble

The cathedral contains five wide naves are reflected in the hierarchical openings of the facade. The transepts have aisles too. The amazing windows of the choir are reputed to be the largest in the world.

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The center one of its five great doors is bordered with a vast relief of animals and fruits which have been so ingeniously carved out of the marble that they seem like living creatures. Figures are so many with complex designs to extreme interest. Everywhere there is a marble statue, and every statue is a study in itself.

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Near the choir is the entrance to the crypt and treasury. One can descend the short stairway to the tomb of Cardinal Borromeo. Also in the crypt is the Tesoro del Duomo, or Cathedral Treasury which houses interesting medieval art, religious art, or ancient holy goods in general.

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Archaeological excavations beneath the cathedral have revealed the foundations of a Paleochristian Baptistery dating from the 4th century. It is said to be the baptistery in which St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, baptized his student Augustine.

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A word from Mark Twain – a great fan of the Milan cathedral: What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid weight, and yet it seems ...a delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath!...from Innocents Abroad.








Image Source - Milan Cathedral Photo Gallery

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Comments (11)

I like very much the intricate details of this cathedral...thanks for the well explained article

Thanks a lot Sir Abdel.

Beautifully presented and very detailed description. Voted up.

Great article and pictures! The cathedral is so beautiful and impressive.

Excellent discussion of this superb Gothic structure.

Thanks a lot Beth and Kathleen, comments are highly appreciated.

Thanks a lot Michael.

Wonderful pics and a good discussion about Duomo Di Milan.

I have always favored the Gothic designs and your descriptions add to the enjoyment of this article.

Thanks a lot Phoenix. Thanks a lot Roberta, Gothic designs are really wonderful.

Excellent article