After St. Peter's in the Vatican and the Cathedral of Seville, Milan Cathedral (Duomo Santa Maria Nascente) is the largest church in the world: 157 metres long, 92 metres wide, 108 metres high and an area of more than 10,000 square metres.
The construction process was extremely slow. It began at the end of the 14th century and was only completed just before the coronation of Napoleon as King of Italy in 1809. Minor changes were also made afterwards. Thus, the heavy bronze doors of the main entrance were added in the 20th century. On those doors you can see performances from the history of Milan. The church is decorated with no less than 135 marble ornamental towers and 2245 statues, also of marble. This marble was brought in from quarries near Lake Maggiore via a specially built road. Since 1773, the highest tower has contained a statue of the Madonna.
The oldest part of this largely Gothic church is the apse, with three beautiful lancet windows. On both sides of the altar you can see beautifully carved portals leading to the sacristy. The decoration of the arches of these portals dates from the 14th century. The stained-glass windows in the side aisles are not to be missed either.
In the southern side aisle you will find the tomb of Gian Giacomo de Medici, a masterpiece by Leone Leoni, inspired by a design by Michelangelo. Nearby you can see the most famous statue of the Cathedral: the skinned Bartholomew who wears his own skin.
A visit to the roof terrace should not be missed. You can choose the stairs (500 steps) or the elevator. The roof terrace is decorated with marble pinnacles and you have a breathtaking view over Milan, at least most of the time. Sometimes the view is obstructed by the air pollution above Milan. But on most days you have a beautiful view of several sights in Milan.
In the Museo del Duomo you can see an overview of the construction of the church. You can also see how they are working on the restoration of the Cathedral.
Website: Duomo Santa Maria Nascente
Address: Piazza del Duomo 14
Opening hours: 08.00-21.00 (in winter until 20.00)
Consult the website of Duomo Santa Maria Nascente for up-to-date price information and opening hours.