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Duomo – Milan

Milan - Duomo - Facade
Milan - Duomo - InteriorMilan - Duomo - OrganiMilan - Duomo - Roof

The famous Gothic Milan Cathedral is dedicated to St Mary of the Nativity; its construction took almost six centuries. The Duomo was built right in the center of the city, the streets of Milan seem to radiate from it.

The first church on the spot was built in 355 and it was dedicated to St Thecla; during the same period it was built the Battistero Paleocristiano that today it is possible to visit right under the actual Duomo. In 1075 a terrible fire destroyed the church. Only in 1386 the Archbishop Saluzzo decided that it was time to build a new church. The first project was a simple cathedral built in brick in Lombard Gothic Style. A couple of years later a French engineer was hired and he decided to cover the brick with marble. Only during the 16th century the interior of the Duomo were decorated although the exterior remained unadorned for centuries.

When Carlo Borromeo became Archbishop of Milan he decided to change the style of the Duomo, at the time the Gothic one was considered as foreign.  He opted for a Renaissance look; part of the interior was remodeled following the new style. In 1577 he consecrated the Duomo. Less than a century later however a new architect, Buzzi, revert the style bringing back the original gothic one.

The symbols of the Duomo, the Madonnina’s spires and the Madonnina’s statue, were added in the second half of the 18 century.  When 50 years later Napoleon became king of Italy he wanted the façade to be finished as soon as possible. In only 7 years the job was done.

Things to see

The never ending construction finally come to an end in 1965 when the last gate was inaugurated.. although today there are still few blocks that should become statues!

The Duomo’s roof hides many treasures: beautiful pinnacles and spires, gorgeous flying buttresses. Luckily it is possible to visit it, tourists can enjoy also a beautiful view over the city.

Centuries of work had left many unique artworks inside the Duomo. Among the numerous statues the one dedicated to St Bartholomew is probably the most beautiful. Stunning are the three altars by Pellegrino Pellegrini and the magnificent organ, the biggest one in Italy!

The Duomo has always be the center of the city life, the inhabitants of Milan look at the Madonnina every time that they want to know the weather forecast: if it is possible to see it from a distance that means that it is a beautiful day!