7 things you didn't know about the Cathedral of Milan in Italy

author ALEX C. . October 10, 2022

Milan's cathedral is the most important landmark of the city in northern Italy. The church serves as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Milan, the largest diocese in Europe, the cathedral being also the largest in Italy (excluding, of course, the Vatican, which is an independent country anyway), and the third in the world.

Those who were in Milan inevitably arrived at Cathedral Square, to admire this architectural masterpiece made over several centuries.

The Cathedral of Milan is an impressive construction, of a special beauty, which can be easily put on the list of tourist attractions of the world to visit once in a lifetime.

Here are 7 interesting things about this masterpiece:

Milan's cathedral was built over almost six centuries

Milan's cathedral Milan's cathedral

It took almost six centuries for the Cathedral of Milan to be ready. The construction of the cathedral began in 1386 and was officially completed in 1965, with the installation of the last bronze gate. However, most parts of the church had been completed in 1813.

So, in 1386, Antonio da Saluzzo, Archbishop of Milan, announced that the city would have a new cathedral, which would replace the churches of Santa Tecla and Santa Maria Maggiore, the construction to celebrate the installation of a new ruler of the city - Gian Galeazzo Visconti, who he replaced his predecessor, considered a notorious tyrant.

The new cathedral was to be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and was to be dedicated to both the nobility and the common people who had been oppressed by the old leadership of the city.

1774 was the year in which the current height of the Dome was reached, following the placement of the golden sculpture of the Virgin Mary on the central tower. The church was inaugurated long before it was completed, more precisely in the 1570s, when it began to take shape.
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At least 78 architects participated in the construction of the Cathedral

Cathedral of Milano Italia

Such a masterpiece, built over such a long period, could not be the work of a single architect. In fact, at least 78 architects from all over Europe were invited to participate in the construction of the Dome.

It is interesting, however, that the one who laid the foundations of the construction remained shrouded in the darkness of history. At one point, in 1488, even the great Leonardo da Vinci sent a project for the construction of the central dome, a project which he later withdrew.
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Milan Cathedral has 135 towers

duomo milano towers

No other cathedral in the world has as many towers as the Cathedral of Milan: 135 in total. Each of them has on top a sculpture representing a biblical character.

The highest tower is at a height of 108.5 meters and is "adorned" with the golden statue of the Virgin Mary. This tower is 4.2 meters high.

In addition to the towers, the exterior of the building is decorated with a large number of statues - no less than 2245! In fact, the entire building houses 3,400 sculpture statues, 135 gargoyles, and another 700 figures, some of them inside, which sets a record, making the Cathedral the cathedral with the largest number of sculptures in the world.

It was built in 1774 and is considered the protector of the city. Until the 1960s, when a modern structure was erected, the Madonnina was the highest point in the city of Milan. In order to preserve this symbol, a copy of the Madonna was installed on top of the Pirelli Tower building
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The roof of Milan Cathedral can be visited

milano cathedral

For a small fee, the roof of the cathedral can be visited, being open to tourists. Access is via a staircase and two elevators. 33 stone steps intersect on two of the sides of the roof, connecting several areas of it.

The climb on the roof is extremely interesting: here you can see in detail the sculptures on the towers, but you can also admire a beautiful panorama of the city of Milan, on clear days visible even the peaks of the Alps.
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Milan's Cathedral has the second-largest organ in Europe

Milan Cathedral Organ Milan Cathedral Organ

The current organ of the cathedral was installed in 1938. It has five bodies and 15,800 tubes, the tallest of which measures over 9 meters, while the smallest is only a few centimeters.

These details place her in second place at the top of the largest organs in Europe, the champion being the organ from Passau Cathedral (Germany). By comparison, the Buchholz organ from the Black Church in Brașov has 3993 tubes, being the largest in Eastern Europe.

While a student in Berlin, the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach fell in love with the charm of Italy, following a visit, and arrived in Milan where he was named the second organist of the Dome.

It happened in 1760, Bach gave concerts in the Duomo of Milan for two years, before leaving for England. During this period, among other works, he composed two masses, a requiem, and a Te Deum.
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