|Europe » Italy »|
Milan Cathedral, Italy
Milan Cathedral history
The site of today’s Milan Cathedral has been the location of religious buildings for a long time. A basilica dedicated to Saint Ambrose was built here already in the beginning of the 5th century.
The construction of Milan Cathedral began later, in year 1386, on order of Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo. Milan Cathedral is known for the extremely long time span of its construction, as the construction lasted over several centuries.
The first main architect was an Italian, but it didn’t take long until foreign architects were hired. Milan Cathedral was built during a time when the Gothic architectural style was popular and the French and German architects were considered the best in this field.
More than 300 builders were constantly working on Milan Cathedral and almost half of the structure stood completed already in 1402. However, after this point, construction stalled almost totally for 80 years.
This was partly due to lack of money and ideas. Another setback was that while the many foreign influences were beneficial, they also caused problems as they not always agreed on what they should actually build.
Work on Milan Cathedral did eventually resume and in the 16th and 17th century, many of the internal decorations were added, such as the main altar, the baptistery and wooden choir stalls.
The impressive front façade was also added during this time period. In year 1805, the front works were all finished while the construction of the statues continued through the 19th and century.
The last details of Milan Cathedral were actually finished as late as in the 20th century. The last gate was inaugurated on January 6, 1965 and with this, a project spanning over 600 years had finally been completed. Due to Milan Cathedral long construction time, the Milanese have created a phrase "la fabbrica del Duomo" for anything taking eternity to get done.
Why visit Milan Cathedral ?
A trip to Milan without seeing Milan Cathedral is no trip at all. It is not only one of the very largest Gothic Cathedrals in the world, but also one of the largest catholic cathedrals ever built.
Milan Cathedral is not only famous for its sheer size, but also for its complexity, with decorations in even the most hidden places. The cathedral is ornate with more than 100 marble spires and well over 2000 marble statues.
Milan Cathedral is considered one of the true Gothic masterpieces. The cathedral’s many different architects, together with the fact that the construction lasted for several hundred years, shows in its architectural style.
However, only in its details does it reveal its Baroque and Neo-Classical influence. From 1900 some of the less Gothic details of the facade were actually replaced to make it fully in Gothic style.
Milan Cathedral interior
While the outside of Milan Cathedral is truly breathtaking, the same can be said about its inside. The interior of the cathedral includes a huge number of monuments and artworks. Visitors to Milan Cathedral can for example find several sarcophagi of Archbishops who have served in the cathedral.
One can also see three beautiful altars and several amazing sculptures and paintings, not to mention the amazing stained glass windows that adorn the apse. There is also a crypt within the cathedral which holds the cathedral treasury. For anyone with a historical interest, a visit to the treasury is a must.
Another thing not to miss is the cathedral roof. A 200 stepped staircase or an elevator in the north side of the cathedral can take visitors up there. It provides a great view over old Milan and on a clear day, one can even see the all the way to the Alps.
In addition, visitors to the roof can study the many spires and sculptures which covers the place. One can also get a closer look at the massive golden statue, depicting the Virgin Mary, that crowns the 109 meters tall main spire.
Worth the wait
Today, the Cathedral of Milan is considered the most important work of gothic architecture in whole Italy. Even though it took a few hundred years to complete it, it was certainly worth the wait.
Milan Cathedral location
Milan Cathedral is located in central Milan, in northern Italy. The cathedral is situated at the center of ancient Milan; the Roman Mediolanum. For the exact location of Milan Cathedral, check out the location map to the right.
Milan Cathedral resources
Interactive location map. For a larger and more detailed map, check out our Italy map.
Do You like Milan Cathedral?
Click below to download your Milan Cathedral audio guide.
(If your broswer won't download the guide, right-click the botton and choose "save target as..")
|Europe » Italy »|