Milan’s Il Duomo has a fairy tale look. Its sparkling white marble accented with amazing spires makes the Duomo di Milano a building that fires up the imagination, whether pure morning sunlight glistens on its forest of spires or red sunset deepens the cathedral’s majesty. Quite justifiably, this magnificent cathedral in Milan, Italy, is considered one of the most fascinating churches in all of Europe.
The size of Il Duomo, alone, makes it the largest Gothic cathedral and second largest Catholic cathedral in the world. It has impressed, even dwarfed, human perception for centuries. Classic American writer Mark Twain, in Innocents Abroad, breathlessly described Il Duomo: “What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful … a delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath! … fretted spires spring high in the air, and through their rich tracery one sees the sky beyond … I cannot understand how it can be second to anything made by human hands.” Its beauty and majesty continues to inspire that same exceptional awe.
Glistening white marble
The white Candoglia marble of Milan’s cathedral adds prominence to its brilliant beauty. Il Duomo extends over 350 feet high at its tallest spire, one of many in a multifaceted spectacle of 135 marble spires. It’s a vast 515 feet long, able to hold over 40,000 worshippers. At the fabulous cathedral’s pinnacle is a beautiful golden Madonna statue carved by Guiseppe Perego. Il Duomo’s complex designs and artwork includes over 2200 marble statues. To see and experience Milan’s white cathedral is an unforgettable experience.
Walk the cathedral’s rooftops
It is possible to walk the Duomo di Milano’s vast rooftops. Access is via an elevator or via 300 feet of stairs, and the experience is stunning. High above the city of Milan, one walks rooftop terraces among fretted spires with views of incredible bas relief creatures and statues. Gargoyles are within shutter distance. Experiencing the rooftop of a cathedral overlooking Italy’s famed fashion and art city and walking about the rooftop surrounded by fantastical spires, statues, and carved reliefs is a multisensory delight.
A moderate fee is charged for rooftop access, but entry to the cathedral’s magnificent interior with its five broad naves and massive stained glass windows is free.
The Duomo di Milano is at Piazza del Duomo, 16, 20122 Milano, in the center of the city. It’s open every day from 7 am to 7 pm.
Il Duomo in Milan transports into the creative imagination and through historic time. While experiencing its soaring beauty and walking its rooftop groves of spires and art, one remembers that at this site in the 5th century, Saint Ambrose built a new basilica. In the year 836, an adjoining basilica was added.
The soaring magnificence of the present cathedral began in the 11th century, and through time, the cathedral’s growth was influenced by many artists and architects. Although Gothic construction largely was completed in the 1880s, time is not yet finished with Il Duomo, for uncarved blocks still remain to be turned into sculpture. Clearly, Il Duomo in Milan is an unforgettable experience that grows ever more magnificent with the continuing passage of time.