With its 12 000 m ² surface area, its 108,5 m high and its 3 400 statues, the Duomo is one of the largest churches in Europe, just after Saint Peter Basilica in Rome and Seville Cathedral in Spain. A marble mountain with hundreds of statues, the Duomo is the real icon of Milan, and its crenellated silhouette has become a real trademark, printed on the packages of panettoni at Christmas. For the visitor who joins the square by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, it is the brightness of the white marble of the facade which is surprising first. Its construction was a real adventure over six centuries. The first stone was asked in 1386 at the request of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan, to replace the two pre-existing cathedrals, Santa Tecla and Santa Maria Maggiore, and to devote the expansion of his duchy. Yet it was only after the Second World War that the building was definitively finished. The amazing duration of the work therefore explains the incredible synthesis of different styles that make it up. Architects, carpenters, masons and craftsmen of half of Europe participated in its construction throughout the centuries. But the first actor remains the marble of Candoglia, an essential material that makes up most of the construction. Overtaking the traditional Lombardy red brick, the heavy marble blocks were transported by boat from the cellars of the Val d'Ossola, north of Lake Maggiore, to Milan, along the rivers Toce, Ticino and then on the Navigli, the canals of Milan today covered. Cherished by the sun, the marble of the Duomo is tinged with pink and green reflections, giving the cathedral a mystical poetry.
Facade. Watching closely, we can see how the Duomo is a patchwork of styles: double slope facade from the Lombard novel, Renaissance style with some concessions to the baroque on the broken tympans tympans, Gothic style (or neo-Gothic) in arches of the top windows, up to the crenellated roof which like lace breaks in the sky from one foothills to the other… The central portal dates from only 1908; works by Ludovico Pogliaghi, representing the Joy and Pain of the Virgin. Five powerful foothills share the facade in several parts corresponding to the inner vessels.
Interior. If, within the cathedral, the light is much more tenuous, it does not deprive itself of playing with its reflections: When the sun shines through the beautiful glass-panelled windows, éclats of colours break on the powerful 52 towers that support the nave. Of the 52, one for each week of the year, four of them support the octagonal dome. Curious, the upper part of each is decorated by high capitals where, within small niches, saints, prophets and martyrs, they find their place. Beautiful stained glass windows decorate naves and transepts. The oldest dates from the end of the 1980 th century (glass glass of St. John's and glass glass in the New Testament, 1st and 5 th span of the right nave), the most recent of the s. For the anecdote, the stained glass windows were destroyed by the blows of cannon fired for Napoleon's coronation in Milan in 1805. The gold crucifix above the choir would contain the relic of a nail of the True Cross, which a very design religious celebration (the Nivola) devotes every year in September. The transept and the choir form a monumental set; In the left transept chapel, there is a great bronze of bronze, a wonderful Parisian goldsmith from the th century. The statue of Saint Barthélémy torment is in the right transept. Works by the sculptor Marco d'Agrate around 1562, she bears her remains on the shoulders and illustrates the passion of anatomy very fashionable at the time among the artists. Finally, the visit of the crypt of the Duomo shows the remains of the christian baptistery who originally occupied the site. Its contours were redesigned much later on the of the cathedral.
Terraces. After the glare of the exterior, followed by the shadow atmosphere of the interior, the Duomo offers a last experiment rarely proposed by the similar Gothic cathedrals: access to roof terraces. The terrazze del Domo is a great place to stay in a lift or on foot (after 158 steps of a narrow spiral staircase). From here, the landscape allows to see the new skyline of the city, with sunny weather the Tops of the Alps on the horizon. More than 130 stone arrows come to the sky, each with his group of saints suspended in marble niches. Small and fragile seen from the bottom, they seem to be immense. In the center of this hanging terrace is the mighty tower behind the cathedral, almost an isolated chapel which hosts the golden statue of the other icon of Milan, the Madonnina. 4 m high, the golden statue of the Virgin Mary, to whom the Duomo is dedicated, has been watching Milan since 1774. From the top of its 108,5 metres, it dominates the city. The best time to climb on the terraces remains the sunset, letting the traveller savour the nuances of marble even more.
Open every day from 9am to 6pm in summer, from 9.30am to 4.30pm in winter (9am to 5pm on weekends and public holidays). Duomo entrance: 3 €. Terraces open from 9am to 7pm. Full price: 14 € per elevator, 10 € on foot.
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