The cathedral of Milan is literally situated in the center of the city. The city streets either start from there as rays, or surround it as circles. The Milan cathedral is the fifth largest Catholic cathedral in the world.

Its construction began in 1385 on the order of the archbishop Antonio de Saluzzo. In this endeavor he was supported by the first duke of Milan and his cousin – Gian Galeazzo Visconti. The last provided access to his marble quarries and promised tax relief. The cathedral was designed as a gift to the working class and to the nobles who long had suffered during the tyrannical rule of the predecessor of Visconti – Barnabo. In order to make room for the future building, three others were demolished and a forth one – the basilica od Santa Maria Maggiore was used as a quarry.

The news for the cathedral quickly spread throughout the city and for a short period of time significant donations were collected for its construction. 300 people were involved in it. They worked under the guidance of the chief engineer Simone da Orsenigo. His planned a brick construction in Gothic style. Visconti however was supporter of the new trends in the architecture and invited the French Nicolas de Bonaventure as an architect. He decided to cover the bricks with marble. In the following years another French architect was involved in the works on the cathedral – Jean Mignot. There was need for technical support in connection to the heavy stone blocks which had to be lifted to unseen up to that day height. Although the cathedral was consecrated in 1418 only a small part of it was built back then. The constructions continued until 1813 and the last details were put in 1965.

The front façade of the cathedral is impressive. More than 3000 statues can be seen on it (for those who like the statistics, they are exactly 3159). When the sun shines at it directly it look like as if the whole shines. The cathedral has five doors, the oldest of which is the central one. The panels on it depicts scenes connected to the history of the city, moment of the construction of the cathedrak, the Virgin, Saint Amrose (patron of Milan) and others.

In addition to the statues the cathedral also has many towers – 135 in number. The tallest tower is the one with the statue of the Madonna. It reaches 108.5 meters in height and for a long time it has been the highest point in Milan. The statue of the Madonna itself is 4.16 meters high and is covered with gold. Traditionally no building should be higher. That is why in 1960 when the Pirelli Tower was raised a small replica of the statue was put on its top. The same was done in 2010 with the Lombardy Building.

For the fearless visitors we recommend a climb to the roof of the cathedral, where a wonderful view of the city can be enjoyed. You have to be careful though because the stairs are narrow and crowded.

The interior of the cathedral is spacious but somehow gloomy. Beautiful colorful windows adorn the apse. The five naves are divided by 53 pillars, which support the cross vaulted ceiling. The impressive altar in the centre of the transept was built in the 18th century. It was placed by San Giovanni Buono. On the apse above this altar there is a place, illuminated with red light.  The red light marks the niche where a nail from the cross of Christ is kept. This is believed to one of the two nails found by Saint Helena in the Holy Lands. She put one of it in a crown and the other one on a bridle, which she gave to her son – the emperor Constantine the Great. Later the bishop Abrose acquired one of the nails. This nail is publically shown each year during a special ceremony.

There is also a crypt in the cathedral, where the Treasury is. Everyone with an interest of history should visit it.

You can receive more informaiton on the ticket options and the opening times here.

You can see more photos from the cathedral in our Gallery below: