Milan’s Duomo is not just a place of worship, it’s also a truly beautiful work of art.
The marble from which it has been created is intricately carved, so that the closer you walk to the structure, the more detail you see. From a distance, most noticeable are the dozens of protruding pinnacles, each with an individual carved statue on the top. Get closer and it’s the carvings on the facade that stand out. The Duomo is the largest church in Italy and it took an incredible 578 years to complete, eventually opening fully in 1965!
The highlight for us was the trip up to the roof, which can be made by stairs or elevator. Even if you take the elevator, there are still some stairs to climb. The view over Milan is terrific, but it’s still the building itself that catches the eye. On the roof, you get a much better view of the detail on each of the carved pinnacles. In fact, everywhere you look has been carved in some way. When we visited, a collection of modern sculptures had been added to the roof which seemed somewhat unnecessary considering the beauty of the building all around.
There are lots of other areas of the cathedral to visit and they all have something to offer. For this reason, we recommend that you buy the full experience ticket at the Duomo ticket office. When you enter the main church, you get a real feel for just how large it is. There are 52 columns inside holding the structure up, and the altar area under the large spire on the roof is huge. Make sure you look down too, as the floor is a patterned work of art all on its own.
Look out inside for the organ, which is the size of a house…with its own front door! Also don’t miss the crypt where you can see the resting place of an actual saint. The remains of St Charles Borromeo are housed in a crystal coffin. Also here is the treasury which is filled with valuable, ornate objects. One other feature to look for is the small red light bulb in the dome above the apse. This is the place where a nail, which is reputedly from the Crucifixion of Christ, is located. The nail is considered holy and as such it is shown off to the public once a year during a celebration known as the Rite of the Nivola. Finally, near the entrance is a small staircase which takes you down to excavations under the cathedral where a Roman bath has been discovered along with the remains of a baptistry.
Milan’s Duomo is open daily but opening times do vary for different areas, so please see the last list here: Milan Duomo Opening Times. The combined adult ticket is 15 Euros (elevator included) and also gives access to the Museum across the piazza (2015 prices). Admission is free to worshippers. There is a strict dress code to enter the cathedral. Your shoulders should be covered and your shorts or skirt should not rise above mid thigh.
LOCATION & CONTACT
Address: Duomo di Milano, Piazza del Duomo, Milano, Italy
Tel: +39 02 7202 2656