the duomo milano

Each year hundreds of thousands of people visit the Catholic Cathedral in Milan, for many visitors, it is part of a religious pilgrimage; for other visitors, it is another attraction to tick off their list. Regardless, few would leave Milan without marveling at the endeavours, ingenuity, and craftsmanship of the people who built this magnificent building.

Not far from the Starhotel is a bus stop for the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus. These are a feature of many cities and provide a convenient way for visitors to get their bearings and discover a city. Conveniently, the hop-on hop-off  dropped us off at the Piazza del Duomo, which includes the Milan Cathedral [the Duomo Milano] and the shopping arcade, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. In this page we will explore the cathedral and on the next page explore the shopping arcade.

Although, I had been to the both before; it was some time ago, I had different interests at the time, therefore, I felt that I really needed look through different lenses to refresh my knowledge and to recapture the experience.

The Duomo is often described as the ‘centre-piece’ of the city and it is one of the largest and most magnificent Catholic cathedrals in the world. Construction began in 1386 and took over 500 years. As you wander around the outside this Gothic masterpiece you cannot help but be impressed by the overall size, the intricate marble spires and ornate arches. Everywhere you look there are statues some are on the walls others located on the top of spires, some appear to hover above the roof of the cathedral as if in the heavens. Fear [after all it is a catholic church] is communicated through menacing looking gargoyles, which also function as rain-heads, and statues that graphically communicate the fate awaiting sinners and non-believers.

Inside the Duomo is immense – the roof looks as it is supported by a row of giant ‘tree like’ marble columns. Alters, statues, and candles, provide a place for many to worship. Constructed in a time when few could read the stories are outlined in the stained glass windows. The marble flooring is in itself a work of art; on close inspection you can see the patterns and how some types of marble are more wear resistant than others – this adds to the antiquity of the Duomo.

From time to time priest and nuns walk through and add to the religious theatre, some have made their way from other countries and for them it appears to be a seminal experience.

For some visitors it may be a refuge from the heat and a place to rest – as even on this hot August day it is cool and pleasant within the Duomo.

For some, mainly older ladies, it is their church, their place of worship, where they come with their heads covered and their rosary beads in their hands – just as their mothers and grandmothers have done before them.

Like all crowds there are those who show respect for the people who have come to worship, there are also those that have come out of curiosity but recognise that it is a spiritual place, however, there are some tourists who are completely oblivious that there are other people around them, they run around, [you may find this an unusual observation] but I have noticed they run pigeon toed, and with a selfie-stick in hand. This group giggle and squake ‘Oh My God’ without realising that for many people this is the house of God, their only intention is capturing another silly duck-faced selfie and getting it uploaded ASAP.

Other, more respectful, visitors wander through the cathedral, many are non-religious, however, they stare and marvel at this engineering achievement; they quietly express their admiration at what man can do when they believe there is a higher purpose.

The Duomo has a museum, there is a small charge, and it is worth a visit – it is quiet, there are only a few people there, we do our best to take it all in but there is just too much and time is just too short.


The Piazza del Duomo has a large monument to King Vittorio Emanuele, the first king of Italy, the king is mounted on a horse and is facing the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is named in his honour.

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