Duomo di Milano, Italy’s biggest and most beautiful church

Duomo di Milano, Italy’s biggest and most beautiful church

Right in the center of Milan you find the breathtaking Cathedral of Milan, known in Italy as the Duomo di Milano. It’s the biggest church in Italy and the third largest in the world. If you’re visiting Milan, you have to visit this church. Even looking at the Duomo’s exterior alone is worth the time.

Picture: Duomo di Milano Picture: Duomo di Milano 

Construction on the cathedral started in 1386, with the ambition to build the largest church in the world. Completing the construction took many, many years, and during those years the design for the church changed frequently. Many architects were involved and they all tried to make the Duomo as spectacular as possible. Even though many different architectural styles were used over the years, the end result looks very homogeneous, with an overall gothic style.

The final piece of construction, on the fifth bronze door of the cathedral, was done in 1965, almost 600 years after construction had started. But even today there are still some blocks that were originally supposed to be carved into statues.

Picture: Duomo detail Picture: Duomo detail 

When you walk onto the square were the Duomo stands, you will immediately see its best feature: the white façade of the church. Due to its sheer size and whiteness, it is simply amazing to stand there and take it all in.

One thing you might notice when you look at it, is the large number of statues. With a total of 3159, the Duomo has more statues on it than any other building in the world. The most famous of all these statues is the Madonnina, the 4 meters tall gold-plated statue of the virgin Mary at the very top of the cathedral. At 108.5 meters, this used to be the highest point in the city of Milan.

The churches interior is very spacious and a bit dark, and features 52 pillars, one for each week of the year. There are three large altars, each of them decorated with impressive artwork. You may also notice a red light above the choir, which supposedly indicates the location of one of the nails that was used during the crucifixion of Christ.

You can take the stairs (6 euros) or use the elevator (10 euros) to go up to the rooftop terrace. The views from there are spectacular, and on clear days you can see as far as the Alps. Because the terrace is surrounded by a high fence, even people who are scared of heights should have a great time up there.

Picture: Duomo square  Picture: Duomo square 

  • Practical tips
    It’s recommended to plan your visit in the morning and not in the weekends, as it tends to get very busy with tourists.
  • You should also be aware that you need to wear something that covers your shoulders, otherwise you will be denied access to the church.
  • If you like a taste of real Italian food, the square is typically not the place for it as the pizzas are mainly US style (thick bottom) instead of Italian style.

Getting there
Getting to the Duomo is very easy, because it’s located in the very heart of the city. The cathedral is located on the Piazza del Duomo, right across from the metro station Duomo. This is where the M1 and M3 subway lines meet. Many of the tram lines in the city center also have a stop near the Duomo.

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