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Milan Duomo dimensions:

• Length: 515 feet
• Width at transept: 302 feet
• Height of nave columns: 80 feet
• Height of central octagon: 6215 feet
• Height of spire: 350 feet
• Capacity: 40,000 people.

Wildly popular throughout the European Middle Ages, the era of high Gothic missed Italy almost completely. Only in Milan did the idea catch on in favor of building tall and elaborately decorated in the great French Gothic style.

In fact, it was French engineer Nicolas de Bonaventure and architect Jean Mignot who were first called in to approve designs for the new Milan Duomo in the 14th century. They were also tasked to train local masons in the revolutionary architectural style that had swept through Europe at the time.

The result? Elegant French Gothic mixed with a distinct Italian muscularity.

The cathedral (like many others before it) was built in fits and starts as finances allowed with the final details only officially completed in the 19th century.

Milan duomo gargoyles
Gargoyles peer down on visitors in the Piazza del Duomo.

Traveling through Milan at the time, American writer Mark Twain was duly impressed and later wrote about his experience in Innocents Abroad: “What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid weight, and yet it seems ...a delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath!"

Today, the cathedral continues to astonish as the delicately carved Italian marble is restored, recarved and refurbished thanks to a perpetual gift from a local quarry.

Inside, artistic and religious highlights feature masterpieces of sculpture from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including three awe-inspiring altars by 16th century painter & architect Pellegrino Pellegrini; the St. Bartholomew statue by Marco D'Agrate; and the magnificently designed Trivulzio Candelabrum, located under the transept.

The Duomo roof tour includes of spires, pinnacles and statuary.

High above in the dome, a small red light marks the location where a nail is inserted, believed to be from Christ's crucifixion.

For a complete tour, head up to the roof where visitors almost universally experience giddy elation at the height and sheer number of the many flying buttresses, pinnacles and spires that fit together as tightly as a jigsaw puzzle. Entry fees, at last visit, included 7 euros to climb the stairs, 12 euros to ride the elevator.

Address: Piazza del Duomo
Metro: Duomo
Hours: Roof daily 7AM -7PM

More about the Milan Duomo around the Web:

Milan Duomo - the official site

Milan Duomo Virtual Tour

Milan Duomo Webcam

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