The Duomo is the symbol of Milan and the main church of the city. This imponent gothic building is the largest cathedral of Italy and the third of the world with its measures of 157 metres in length, 108 metres the height of the Madonnina from the ground, 4,16 metres the height of Madonnina and it covers an area of 11.700 m2. If you want to see a panoramic view I would be happy to escort you above the roof.
Dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente, the construction began in 1386 and it was commissioned by Gian Galeazzo Visconti to celebrate his ascension to power and Visconti Signoria: thanks to his enthusiasm, Gian Galeazzo was able to collect a lot of donations from the population necessary to start the work which was planned by the engineer Simone da Orsenigo.
The construction of this wonderful cathedral took almost six centuries and during this long periods arrived in Milan from Central Europe a lot of people such as architects, sculptors and workers who wanted to be involved in this big and magnificent project: the final result is a unique and majestic masterpiece with an immense patrimony of 3400 statues, spires, pinnacles, sculptures and decorations.
Under Gian Galeazzo influence the building of Duomo proceeded very quickly as in less than a century almost half of it was finished: unfortunately after the death of Galeazzo occurred at the beginning of 1400, the project remained blocked until the end of the same century because of lack of money.
The 15th century was followed by two important periods concerning the Duomo: the Sforza and the Borromeo Era. At the beginning of 1500 and under the influence of Ludovico Sforza it was finished the octagonal cupola with all the decorations at his interior and it was also completed the elegant spire sculpted by Amedeo and called Guglietto dell'Amadeo (Amedeo’s Little Spire). During the Borromeo Era, the Duomo style was under the influence of the catholic reformation: the archibshop Carlo Borromeo first of all removed the tombs of the Visconti family members and then he tried – together with the engineer Pellegrini – to give a Renaissance – Italian appearance instead of the Gothic Style rebuilding the presbytery, the baptistry and new altars with wooden choir.
During the second half of the 18th century the crossing was completed together with the main spire designed by Pellicani which it was built at the height of 108 metres: at the top it was put the famous Madonnina statue – designed by Perego – which is the symbol and one of the main features of the cathedral.
In the 19th century the construction of the Duomo was finished as the facade, the ornamental elements, the spires and all statues, were completed. A very long process which took several centuries and generations but finally the result is an impressive construction and one of the most beautiful cathedral in Europe: let your escort introduce you to this magnificent building.
During the World War II, Milan was under the bombing and a lot of monuments were hit and damaged but fortunately the Duomo - compared it to other building such as La Scala – was not strongly affected: so it was possible to make all the necessary repairing in short time.
About the exterior architecture the cathedral is built in Gothic style and has vaults of 45 metres which are one of the highest in the world considering the exception of Beauvais Cathedral – not completed - with his 48 metres.
The Duomo of Milan has a large number of spires, a massive presence of statues which were created in different styles by numerous sculptors, 52 columns in marble and a large number of decorations.
About the interior, there is a cruciform plan - similar to a latin cross that covers 12000 m2 and can hosts 40.000 people inside – and five naves: one main central nave and two lateral naves on each side; the floor is made completely in marble and was designed by Tibaldi Pellegrino.
Inside the cathedral is possible to see a lot of monuments such as: the presbytery, the medeghino, the altars of Pellegrini, the Arcimboldi monument, the sarcophagus of Carelli, the statue of Saint Bartolomeo and others that you and your escort will surely appreciate.
There is an important organization which take care of this magnificent symbol of Milan, called Veneranda Fabbrica. But what is it? Veneranda Fabbrica was created in 1387 by Gian Galeazzo Visconti and in origin had only the purpose to follow the construction of the building; during the following six centuries this historic organisation has been working for preservation and restoration of the Duomo.
Today the Veneranda Fabbrica continues to take care of the cathedral, promoting this marvellous monument with a large number of cultural activities: this is very important to increase the number of visitors and their escorts from all the world and to collect the necessary resources for the general maintenance and artistic restoration.