Milan Cathedral -Table of Contents  ...........................  Architecture Around the World

Exterior - Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano)
Milan, Italy

Milan's Duomo is the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world: only Seville Cathedral is larger (and St. Peter's Basilica doesn't count because it's not a cathedral). Milan Cathedral is 157 meters long and 40,000 people can fit comfortably within.

The Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. Groundbreaking: 1386.  Completed: 1965.

The huge building is made of brick faced with Candoglia marble.

- Sacred Destinations: Milan Cathedral (online April 2016)
Back when Europe was fragmented into countess tiny kingdoms and dukedoms, the Dukes of Milan wanted to impress their counterparts in Germany and France.  Their goal was to earn Milan recognizion and respect from both the Vatican and the kings and princes of northern Europe by building a massive, richly ornamented cathedral. 

Even after Renaissance-style domes had come into vogue elsewhere in Italy, conservative Milan stuck with the Gothic style.  The Dukes thought northerners would relate better to Gothic, and they loaded the catedral with pointed arches and spires. 

For good measure, the cathedral was built not from ordinary stone, but from marble, top to bottom.  Pink Candoglia marble was rafted in from a quarry about 60 miles away, across Lake Miggiore and down a canal to a port at the cathedral.  Construction lasted from 1386 to 1810, with final touches added as late as 1965. 

- Rick Steves, "Milan and the Italian Lakes District"

February 2016 Photo

Model found in the Milan Cathedral Museum

February 2016 Photos


Gothic style ... 1386 groundbreaking  ... 5th-largest church in the world and the largest in Italy ... 
On May 20, 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte, about to be crowned King of Italy, ordered the façade to be finished by Pellicani. Within  seven years, the Cathedral had its façade completed. As a form of thanksgiving, a statue of Napoleon was placed at the top of one of the spires. Napoleon was crowned King of Italy at the Duomo ...
Details, top down, below:

Candoglia  marble: Pink Candoglia marble was rafted in from a quarry about 60 miles away, across Lake Miggiore and down a canal to a port at the cathedral.

Pinnacles topped by statues

Tracery ... Finials

Top:  Corbel table  with carved faces

Bas-relief sculpture on paired doors

Crucifixion depicted in quatrefoil

Mary and Jesus


Marriage of Joseph and Mary

Bethlehem scene

The Madonnina's spire was erected in 1762


 "Madonnina" atop the main spire of the cathedral, a Baroque gilded bronze statue

Renovation work being done

Carved stone niche canopies

Note flying buttresses

Three gargoyles

Piazza del Duomo

Photos and their arrangement © 2016 Chuck LaChiusa
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