The Duomo of Milan was a labor of love and faith, since it had taken over six centuries to construct. This stunning Gothic style and Renaissance cathedral broke ground in 1386, and was finally completed last century in 1965. The Duomo di Milano is a work of art in its construction, architecture, engineering, and down to its fine artistic details. Although the Gothic work on the façade is not the typical Italian Gothic style from the period, it is still a glorious cathedral.
The cathedral is enormous, it is the largest in the Italian Republic, and the third largest in the world. Being the largest, the Duomo commissioned thousands of experts from artists, sculptors and specialized workers to help construct the cathedral. There were at least 78 architects over the six centuries who were consulted during the project. In fact, Napoleon finished the façade of the Duomo, which began the push for the final stages of construction of the 19th century.
For centuries the cathedral did not have a façade, that is why there are elements of the Gothic style but not full. The Gothic period began in the mid 1100s, and lasted until the 1600s. By then many other art and architecture periods had crossed over, including the Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical. That is why the façade of the Duomo can be a bit jarring, and not typical of its ground breaking year.
My favorite feature of the Duomo was the rooftop, which is open to tourist for a fee. The architectural features were fascinating and intricate from the pinnacles and spires, to my favorite the flying buttresses. I have been to a good amount of Gothic cathedrals throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, and I am always impressed by the craftmanship and engineering of the flying buttresses.
The panoramic views of Milan from the rooftop of the Duomo are picturesque, especially when they are framed by the cathedral’s details. On a clear day, supposedly you can view the Alps to the north. Since the rooftop is open to night tours, this is the loveliest place in Milan to watch the sunset, and the night sky.
The interior of the Duomo is just as impressive, with pink and white marble used throughout. The cathedral also has an impressive amount of statues, and boasts to having the most in the world. There are 3,400, plus 700 marble figures, and 135 grotesque gargoyles. I think it would take several days and a pair of binoculars to locate each one since many are found on the façade, the spires, and the interior of the cathedral.
Visiting the Duomo in Milan is a tremendous experience, and is one of Italy’s most visited tourist attraction. For more information on guided tours or visiting the cathedral, please visit – Duomo di Milano
I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list…– Susan Sontag
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