RIVETING FUN FACTS ABOUT THE MILAN CATHEDRAL, ITALY

RIVETING STORIES AND FACTS ABOUT THE MILAN CATHEDRAL YOU’LL LOVE TO KNOW

Looking for some interesting stories and facts about the Milan Cathedral? Welcome! I have the best collection of fun facts in this article.

The Milan Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Milano, is a magnificent cathedral located in the heart of Milan, Italy. It is one of the largest and most complex Gothic cathedrals in the world and is a prime example of Italian Gothic architecture.

Throughout its history, the Milan Cathedral has been the subject of many interesting and captivating stories, from its construction to its modern-day status as a popular tourist attraction. In addition, there are many fun facts and fascinating details about the cathedral that many people may not be aware of.

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Milan Cathedral facade

In this article, you shall find facts about the Milan Cathedral, including some surprising details and the most interestingly noteworthy stories that make this magnificent cathedral even more fascinating. From tales of hidden symbols and secret messages to the Cathedral’s role in modern pop culture, these fun facts offer a unique perspective on one of Italy’s most famous landmarks.

This collection of stories and facts are sure to captivate and delight anyone with an interest in history, architecture, or the artistry of the Italian Renaissance. So, join me on a journey through time and discover the secrets and wonders of the Milan Cathedral.

I hope that you’ll enjoy reading them as much as, if not more, as I, who was absolutely enthralled in compiling them.

Piazza del Duomo Milan Cathedral | facts about the Milan Cathedral | ©timelesstravelsteps.com
Piazza del Duomo, Milan

HERE YOU GO…23 RIVETING STORIES AND FUN FACTS ABOUT THE MILAN CATHEDRAL

Uncover little-known details and intriguing anecdotes about this magnificent cathedral. With these 23 fascinating stories and fun facts at your fingertips, you’ll get a deeper appreciation for the Milan Cathedral and its artistry.

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1 | WHO COMMISSIONED THE BUILDING OF THE DUOMO DI MILANO?

An important question that often pops up is who exactly commissioned the construction of the Duomo di Milano, was it the Archbishop or the Duke of Milan?

The construction of the Milan Cathedral was commissioned by the Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo in 1386, although he did not live to see the project completed. Archbishop Antonio was a prominent figure in Milan at the time, and he saw the Cathedral as a way to showcase the power and wealth of the Church in the city.

Archbishop Antonio died in 1401, before the Cathedral was completed. His successors continued to oversee the project, and many different architects and craftsmen were involved in the Cathedral’s construction over the centuries.

The construction of the Milan Cathedral was supported by the Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, in 1386. Visconti envisioned the Cathedral as a grand symbol of his family’s power and wealth, and sought to create a structure that would surpass any other church in Italy. He played a key role in the supply of materials to the Cathedral (more about this a little further in this post).

However, Visconti died before the Cathedral’s construction began in earnest, and subsequent rulers and architects continued to add to and modify the design over the following centuries.

facts about the Milan Cathedral | Piazza del Duomo Milan Cathedral ©timelesstravelsteps.com
side view of the Milan Cathedral, Piazza del Duomo, Milan

2 | WHO WERE THE MILAN CATHEDRAL ARCHITECTS?

An interesting fact about the Milan Cathedral is that the design cannot be attributed to one singular architect. It is difficult to verify who actually built the Milan Cathedral or the exact number of architects consulted for the project, as historical records vary.

It is known that multiple architects were involved in the design and construction of the Milan Cathedral, including Simone da Orsenigo, Nicolas de Bonaventure, Giovannino de Grassi, and Francesco di Giorgio Martini, among others.

In addition to the architects, the construction of the Cathedral involved many thousands of workers (as one can imagine!) including sculptors and artists who contributed to its fabric, making it an international creation, a unique and an impressive piece of architecture, merging the Gothic and the Romanesque style.

Design changes were also common during the construction period due to various factors such as political influence, lack of funds, and technical challenges.


3 | HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO BUILD THE MILAN CATHEDRAL?

This large Cathedral has seen a lot of history pass her by because it took almost 600 years to complete this masterpiece. Construction began in 1386 and the final pieces were laid in 1960s but seeing the scaffolding on the roof of the Cathedral, something tells me that the work is not quite complete yet!

The construction of Milan Cathedral, or Duomo di Milano, began in 1386, during the Gothic period of architecture. Spanning over almost 600 years, the Cathedral underwent numerous modifications and additions during this time.

The long construction period was due to a variety of factors, including wars, funding issues, and changes in architectural style.

The majority of the construction work had been completed by the early 1800s. while the addition of the ornate facade and spires along with other decorative elements were finally completed in the late 1800s. The architect Emilio Alemagna was responsible for overseeing the completion of the Cathedral during this time.

The completion of the Milan Cathedral in the 1800s was largely funded by wealthy private donors and by contributions from the Milanese people.

The final touches to the Cathedral were completed in 1965, with the installation of the last gate on the south side of the building, marking the end of over six centuries of construction. However, some restoration and maintenance work continues to this day to ensure the Cathedral’s preservation for future generations.

Piazza del Duomo Milan Cathedral facade ©timelesstravelsteps.com
Duomo di Milano

4 | DID LEONARDO DA VINCI CONTRIBUTE TO THE DESIGN OF MILAN CATHEDRAL?

Leonardo da Vinci attempted to contribute to the design of Milan Cathedral by working on the Tiberium, which is a lantern-shaped structure located on top of the dome. He created a wooden model for it, but ultimately withdrew it due to the difficulties of creating a structure of that size and complexity.

While Leonardo da Vinci was not officially commissioned to work on the Cathedral, the fact remains that his influence can be seen in his drawings and sketches, some of which depict the building and its architecture. These can be found in various manuscripts and codices, including the Atlantic Codex and the Trivulziano Codex.

Additionally, Leonardo da Vinci was known to have collaborated with other artists and craftsmen in Milan, and it is possible that he may have contributed to the Cathedral in other ways, such as by offering advice or suggestions to the architects and builders working on the project.


5 | WHAT WAS NAPOLEON’S INFLUENCE ON MILAN CATHEDRAL?

During his reign, Napoleon Bonaparte had a significant impact on Milan and its monuments, including the Milan Cathedral. In 1796, Napoleon conquered Milan and transformed it into the capital of the newly-formed Cisalpine Republic, which was a French client state. Napoleon saw the Milan Cathedral as a symbol of the old regime and sought to dismantle it, but ultimately decided to spare it from destruction.

Napoleon had the Cathedral modified to suit his own purposes. He ordered the removal of some of the Cathedral’s original decorations, including several statues and spires, and commissioned new artwork to be installed in their place. One of the most significant changes made by Napoleon was the addition of a large bronze statue of himself on horseback, which was placed on top of the Cathedral’s central spire in 1809. The statue remained there for nearly a decade before it was removed and sent to Paris as spoils of war.

Despite Napoleon’s modifications to the Milan Cathedral, much of its original Gothic architecture and artwork remain intact. This is one of the important facts about the Milan Cathedral.

Milan Cathedral viewed from the Galleria ©timelesstravelsteps.com
view of Milan Cathedral from the Galleria terraces

6 | A SPECIAL TAX ON THE PEOPLE OF MILAN

One of the facts about the Milan Cathedral is that its completion was actually funded by its people. During the construction of the Milan Cathedral, a special tax known as the “fabrica” was imposed on the people of Milan in order to raise funds for the project. The tax was levied by the Cathedral’s building committee, and was mandatory for all citizens of the city, regardless of their social or economic status.

The “fabrica” tax was an important source of funding for the construction of the Cathedral, which was a massive undertaking that took several centuries to complete. The tax was used to pay for materials, labour, and other expenses associated with the building process, and was crucial to the successful completion of the project. Despite the financial burden imposed by the “fabrica” tax, the people of Milan remained committed to the construction of the Cathedral and took pride in the fact that their city was home to one of the most impressive religious buildings in Europe.


7 | THE MADONNINA AND ANGELS ON THE DUOMO DI MILANO

Crowned on the highest spire of the Milan Cathedral is Madonnina, a statue of the Virgin Mary, which stands at a height of 108.5 meters (356 feet) above the ground. The authentic statue is made of gilded copper and measures 4.16 meters (13.6 feet) tall. The statue of the Virgin Mary was sculpted by Giuseppe Perego in 1774. The Madonnina is the symbol of the City of Milan.

In addition to the Madonnina, there are four smaller spires on the Cathedral’s roof, each topped with a statue of an angel. These statues, also made of copper and gilded with gold leaf, were created by different artists over the course of several centuries. The angels are depicted in various poses, some holding instruments or weapons, and are positioned to face the four cardinal directions. Together, the statues on the Milan Cathedral’s spires form a striking silhouette against the city’s skyline and are a defining feature of the Cathedral’s exterior.

The Best of Milan – Sunset on the rooftop of the Duomo | Modonnina | Timeless Travel Steps
Madonnina viewed from the Duomo di Milano terraces at night

8 | HIDDEN SYMBOLS IN THE CATHEDRAL’S MARBLE FACADE

The Milan Cathedral’s marble facade is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The impressive marble facade is filled with riveting stories, intricate details and symbolic imagery. One of the most intriguing facts about the Milan Cathedral are the symbols on the facade in the image of a biscione. The biscione is a prominent feature of the city’s coat of arms, and it has been associated with Milan for centuries.

The biscione is depicted on the facade of the Milan Cathedral in several places, including on the central gable of the facade and on the lower part of the facade, just above the door. In addition to the biscione, the Milan Cathedral’s facade features a wealth of other symbolic imagery, including intricate carvings of saints, angels, and other religious figures, as well as scenes from the Bible and depictions of historical events. The sheer level of detail and artistry that went into its construction is amazing, and many hours can be spent studying its facade and trying to decipher its hidden meanings.


9 | WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE MARBLE FACADE OF MILAN CATHEDRAL?

The Cathedral’s splendour of white and pink marble can be admired from many corners of the City.

The Duomo di Milano, is primarily made of Candoglia marble, which is a type of pink-veined white marble quarried from the mountains in the Lake Maggiore region of northern Italy. The use of this particular type of marble gives the Cathedral its distinctive appearance and helps to create the play of light and shadow that is characteristic of Gothic architecture.

The Candoglia marble was used for the Cathedral’s main facade, as well as for many of its decorative elements, including the numerous statues and sculptures that adorn the exterior. In addition to Candoglia marble, a few other types of marble were used in the Cathedral’s construction, including marble from the quarries in the nearby Ossola valley and from quarries in Tuscany.

The Cathedral’s ornate facade made of the white marble features a wealth of intricate carvings of saints, angels, and detailed scenes from the Bible and historical events. The facade is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the world.

The marble facade is one of the most striking features of the Milan Cathedral and a masterpiece of architectural design. It is this distinctiveness that makes the marble facade of the Milan Cathedral special.

In addition to the marble, the Cathedral is also made of a variety of other materials, including brick, sandstone, and iron. The brick and sandstone were used for the Cathedral’s interior walls and arches, while the iron was used to reinforce the structure and help support the weight of the massive stone columns and arches.

Milan Cathedral facade ©timelesstravelsteps.com
an example of the intricate designs seen on the Milan Cathedral facade

10 | GIAN GALEAZZO VISCONTI, THE DUKE OF MILAN

The Cathedral’s marble facade was made possible by a generous donation from Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the Duke of Milan, in the late 14th century.

Visconti provided the Cathedral chapter with exclusive rights to the marble quarries in the Candoglia area, which allowed them to obtain large quantities of high-quality marble for the construction of the Cathedral’s exterior. The use of marble not only added to the uniqueness and beauty of the Cathedral, but also helped to protect the underlying brick structure from the elements and prevent damage from water and other sources of erosion.


11 | THE UNIQUE ORGAN AT MILAN CATHEDRAL

The Cathedral’s organ is not only one of the largest in the world, but it is also an extraordinary creation, which includes pipes made of wood, metal, and even animal horns. 

One of the largest in the world, the organ in the Milan Cathedral has a total of 15,350 pipes. It was built between 1932 and 1938 by the Tamburini company of Crema, Italy, and is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of organ-building in the world.

The Cathedral’s organ is housed in a specially designed case that spans the width of the cathedral’s transept. It is decorated with intricate carvings and gilded details. The pipes themselves are made from a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and animal horns. Horn pipes are a relatively rare feature in organ-building, and are one of the many unique elements that make the Milan Cathedral organ so special.

The organ is still in regular use today, and can be heard during religious services, concerts, and other events held in the Cathedral.

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inside Milan Cathedral

12 | MILAN CATHEDRAL HAS ONE OF THE LARGEST INTERIORS IN THE WORLD

The Cathedral is an impressive structure, and it remains one of the largest church interiors in the world. The nave of the Milan Cathedral is quite wide, measuring approximately 45 meters wide by 92 meters long. Its total floor area covers approximately 11,700 square meters. The space is estimated to accommodate up to 40,000 people at once.

The Cathedral stands at 157 metres (515 ft) long and 92 m (302 ft) wide in Piazza del Duomo, Milan Cathedral can house up to 40000 people. It is the third largest Christian church in the world following St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome , the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil.


13 | MILAN CATHEDRAL’S STAINED GLASS WINDOWS ARE NOT ALL ORIGINAL

The Cathedral’s stained glass windows are not all original. The fact is many of them were destroyed during World War II and were later replaced with new designs.

During World War II, the Milan Cathedral suffered significant damage as a result of bombing raids by Allied forces. Many of the Cathedral’s stained glass windows were destroyed or damaged in the attacks, along with other parts of the building. In the years following the war, efforts were made to repair and restore the Cathedral, including the replacement of the damaged stained glass windows. While some of the original windows were able to be salvaged and restored, many others had to be replaced with new designs.

Today, Milan Cathedral showcases a mix of original and replacement stained glass windows, in a range of styles and designs from different periods in the Cathedral’s history.

While this may come as a surprise to some, it is a testament to the ongoing efforts to preserve and maintain this historic landmark for future generations to appreciate and admire. Despite the changes made to the windows, the beauty and grandeur of the Milan Cathedral continue to awe and inspire all who visit this iconic landmark.

fun facts about the Milan Cathedral | Timeless Travel Steps
examples of stained glass windows at the Milan Cathedral

14 | DID YOU KNOW THAT THE MILAN CATHEDRAL’S CLOCK HAS ONLY ONE HAND?

The Milan Cathedral’s clock, which was designed by the astronomer and mathematician Francesco Birago in the 16th century, has only one hand and shows 24 hours instead of 12. This is in keeping with the Italian tradition of measuring time from sunset to sunset, rather than from midnight to midnight as is common in many other countries.

The clock face is located on the south side of the Cathedral, facing the Piazza del Duomo. It features a design that is both elegant and functional, with Roman numerals and ornate decorations that reflect the Gothic style of the Cathedral’s architecture. The clock can be viewed up close


15 | WHY IS MILAN CATHEDRAL CALLED A “DUOMO”?

The term “Duomo” is derived from the Latin word “domus,” meaning house, and was originally used to describe the bishop’s residence in a town. Over time, the term “Duomo” came to be associated with the cathedral, which was considered the bishop’s “house of worship.”

In the case of Milan Cathedral, it is called a Duomo because it serves as the cathedral of the Archbishop of Milan. Although the term “Duomo” is often associated with a dome-shaped roof, this is not always the case. In fact, many cathedrals throughout Italy, including Milan Cathedral, have flat roofs or roofs with spires rather than domes.


16 | IS THE 18TH CENTURY SUNDIAL AT THE DUOMO DI MILANO STILL ACCURATE?

YES, IT IS!

There is a sundial strip with zodiac signs on the floor inside the Milan Cathedral. The sundial was created in the 18th century by astronomers Francesco and Giuseppe Piazzi, and it is still visible on the floor of the cathedral today.

The sundial is made up of a series of brass lines and medallions, which are set into the marble floor and surrounded by zodiac signs. The brass lines are oriented to the cardinal points, and the sun’s position is indicated by a small hole in the ceiling above the meridian line. The sundial was designed to be used at solar noon, when the sun is directly overhead, and it is still accurate today.

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the sundial strip with zodiac signs on the floor of Milan Cathedral

17 | MILAN CATHEDRAL HAS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF STATUES

The Milan Cathedral has approximately a total of 3,400 statues, which is considered to be the highest number of statues in any church in the world. The statues are made of various materials, including marble, bronze, and copper, and are located both inside and outside the cathedral. Many of the statues depict saints, biblical scenes, and other religious figures.


18 | HOW IMPORTANT WAS THE NAVIGLI CANAL DURING THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE MILAN CATHEDRAL

The Navigli canals were not built during the construction of the Milan Cathedral, but rather played a significant role in transporting the marble used to build the Cathedral. The architects and builders had to figure out a way to transport the large quantities of marble from the Candoglia Quarries to the construction site in Milan, and they chose to use water transportation as the most efficient means.

The marble was transported along the rivers and canals that were already in place. Where the rivers ended, canals were built to facilitate the transportation of the materials.

The Navigli canals were not built specifically for the transportation of the Cathedral’s materials, but they did play a significant role in the process and became an important part of Milan’s history and culture.


19 | WALK ON THE DUOMO TERRACES

The terraces of the Duomo di Milano offer a unique and stunning view of the city and the opportunity to get up close to the spires and sculptures on the roof of the cathedral. Getting up to the terraces is definitely on of the best things to do in Milan.

The rooftop of the Duomo di Milano is covered in openwork slender pinnacles and spires crowned with almost 2000 sculptures that overlook the city. With the most statues than any other buildings in the world, the terraces are one of the best features of the Milan Cathedral.

There are several ways to access the terraces, including by stairs or lifts, and you can choose to take a guided tour or explore on your own. It is important to note that there are specific dress code and behavior requirements for visitors to the terraces, including covering shoulders and knees and not touching or climbing on any of the sculptures.

Recommended Read: Read my Complete Guide to the Best of Milan: Watch the sunset from the terraces of the Duomo di Milano. This guide has in-depth information on how to visit the rooftop and lots of lovely pictures and a video.

Watch this Instagram reel of the Milan Cathedral Terraces captured at dusk during my visit. The enormity and the play of colours is truly remarkable.

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20 | HIDDEN MESSAGES IN THE ARCHITECTURE OF MILAN CATHEDRAL

I found these incredible facts about the Milan Cathedral to be totally fascinating which I never knew before my visits. There are several examples of hidden symbols and secret messages in the architecture of Milan Cathedral. Here are a few:

The Cathedral’s statues: The cathedral is adorned with over 100 statues, each with its own unique meaning and symbolism. For example, the statue of Saint Bartholomew holding his own flayed skin is believed to be a reference to the Cathedral’s architect, who was said to have been skinned alive by jealous rivals.

The sundial: There is a sundial on the Cathedral’s floor near the south-side that contains a secret message. If you stand in a specific spot on the sundial and look up at the Cathedral’s façade, you will see a hidden message in the form of a Latin sentence that translates to “Horas non numero nisi serenas,” or “I count only the sunny hours.”

The stained glass windows: Some of the Cathedral’s stained glass windows contain hidden messages in the form of Latin inscriptions. For example, one window depicts the creation of Adam and contains the inscription “Deus creavit hominem ad imaginem suam” which is translated to mean “God created man in his own image.”

The spires: The Cathedral’s spires also contain hidden messages and symbolism. For example, one spire is topped by a statue of the Virgin Mary that is said to represent the Cathedral’s protective role over the city of Milan.

These are just a few examples, and there are many more secrets and symbols hidden within the architecture of Milan Cathedral.


21 | THE HOLY NAIL AT THE DUOMO DI MILANO

The Duomo di Milano houses one of the most important relics of Christianity, which is believed to be a nail from the True Cross, Crucifixion of Jesus.

The Holy Nail has been kept in the Cathedral since March 20, 1461, when it was transferred from the old summer basilica of Santa Tecla to the new and larger Cathedral, which was still under construction at that time. The old basilica was already in the process of being demolished, and the new Cathedral was being built in the area that the winter basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore had occupied. Since then, the Holy Nail has been a revered relic and is an important part of the Cathedral’s history and religious significance.

The Holy Nail is kept in a protected vault in the dome above the apse, marked by a red-light bulb. This protected internal vault is only accessible via a lift, known as “Nivola”.

The Nivola and The Triduum of the Holy Nail

The Nivola gets its name from the Milanese dialect word for “cloud” and is shaped like a cloud, decorated with painted canvases, statues of angels, and drapery. Its current form dates back to 1624. The Nivola is the only way to reach the internal vault containing the Holy Nail.

The Holy Nail is brought down during the celebration of The Triduum of the Holy Nail, with the Rite of the Nivola. which is celebrated annually in the Cathedral. The Triduum falls on the three days closest to September 14, which is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

During this celebration, at the beginning of Saturday Vespers, the reliquary containing the Holy Nail is taken down from its vault using the Nivola. The Holy Nail is then inserted into a large, gilded, wooden cross and shown to the people. This is a significant and sacred moment for Christians. There is also a procession, which takes place inside the Cathedral, and the Holy Nail is eventually returned to its vault at the end of the celebration.

INFO: If you are interested in following this celebration, this year (2023), The Triduum of the Holy Nail, is celebrated from Saturday September 17 through to Monday September 19. Live streaming is available at the Milan Cathedral’s official website,

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22 | THE MILAN CATHEDRAL AND POP CULTURE

Milan Cathedral, with its stunning Gothic architecture and rich history, has been featured in various works of pop culture over the years. Here are a few examples:

In “The Da Vinci Code”: the Milan Cathedral is one of the key locations that the main characters, Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu, visit in their search for the Holy Grail. The cathedral’s façade and interior are featured prominently in the film, and the Holy Nail is mentioned as one of the relics that the characters are searching for. While the film and the novel it’s based on are works of fiction, they have helped to increase interest in the cathedral and its historical significance.

In the 2015 James Bond film “Spectre”: the Milan Cathedral was used as a backdrop for an action-packed car chase scene. The scene shows Bond driving a high-speed car through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade next to the cathedral, before crashing into the roof of a building and emerging unscathed.

In addition to “The Da Vinci Code” and “Spectre,” Milan Cathedral has also been used as a filming location for other movies such as “The Tourist” (2010), starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, and “A Month by the Lake” (1995), starring Vanessa Redgrave and Edward Fox.

In “The Tourist,” a 2010 thriller starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, the Cathedral was used as the location for a key scene in which Depp’s character is pursued through the streets of Milan by police officers.

Similarly, in “A Month by the Lake,” a 1995 romantic comedy starring Vanessa Redgrave and Edward Fox, the Cathedral was used as a key setting for several scenes. The film, which is set in 1937 and tells the story of a love triangle between two guests at an Italian villa, was partially filmed on location in Milan.


23 | MILAN CATHEDRAL: GRAND WONDER vs. AWFUL FAILURE

From the floors of Piazza del Duomo, looking up to this majestic structure, Milan Cathedral’s forest of one hundred and thirty-five spires seem to touch the sky. The sight is compelling.

Its rich decorations are a sight to behold and truly gave meaning to what Mark Twain had said of this wonder back in 1867:

“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 in the soft moonlight only a fairy delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath! How sharply its pinnacled angles and its wilderness of spires were cut against the sky, and how richly their shadows fell upon its snowy roof! It was a vision! —a miracle! —an anthem sung in stone; a poem wrought in marble!”

MARK TWAIN, INNOCENTS ABROAD

However, not all may agree with Mark Twain! For even back then in 1875, there were differing opinions on the Duomo. Oscar Wilde visited Milan Cathedral and wrote of his disappointment on the Cathedral to his mother in June of 1875. He described it as “an awful failure”. Here’s the extract I found:

“The Cathedral is an awful failure. Outside the design is monstrous and inartistic. The over-elaborated details stuck high up where no one can see them; everything is vile in it; it is, however, imposing and gigantic as a failure, through its great size and elaborate execution.“

OSCAR WILDE

Clearly, Mark Twain was positively in awe of the cathedral’s grandeur and beauty, describing it as “grand and wonderful.” On the other hand, Oscar Wilde had a more critical view of the cathedral, calling it an “awful failure” due to what he saw as a lack of harmony in the design and execution.

What one person may find beautiful and awe-inspiring, another may find overwhelming or unappealing and I shall let you make up your own mind whether it is a beautiful structure or a failure when you visit, if haven’t yet.

fun facts about the Milan Cathedral | Timeless Travel Steps
Milan Cathedral terraces at sunset

HOW TO EXPERIENCE THE MILAN CATHEDRAL

To visit Milan Cathedral, you can enter from the main entrance on the west side of the building or from the south side entrance on Piazza del Duomo. The cathedral is open to visitors every day of the year, with the exception of Christmas Day and May 1st.

Visitors can choose to purchase a ticket to access the cathedral’s terraces and enjoy panoramic views of Milan’s skyline. It is also possible to visit the cathedral’s museum, which houses many of the original sculptures and artwork that were once part of the cathedral’s facade. If you wish to do so, I recommend that you book your tickets in advance to avoid long lines and ensure availability. Guided tours are also available for those who want a more in-depth experience and understanding of the cathedral’s history and architecture.

It is possible to visit the inside of Milan Cathedral for free of charge. You can do so if you attend mass at the Cathedral. However, take note, you will be restricted in what you can do and some areas are inaccessible. A visit during mass does not give you the opportunity to explore the Duomo and to experience the highlights of the cathedral.

If you wish to visit the cathedral’s interior, climb to the roof or visit the museum, you will need to purchase a ticket. Prices vary depending on what you want to see and which ticket option you choose.

Here are some options for you. Click on each link to learn more of what is offered and book in advance.

Book any one of these tickets here to experience the Duomo di Milano:

No waiting in line! Fast-track tickets

If this is your first time to Milan Cathedral, a guided tour is recommended. The fast-track ticket to the Duomo, Rooftop, Archaeological site and the Museum is the best value option.

The Fast-Track Milan Cathedral and Terraces Guided Tour offers you a complete tour of Milan Cathedral, with skip-the-line entrance and access to the rooftop. The ticket includes access to the Archaeological area and the Museo del Duomo which you can explore at your own pace, after the guided tour or with a guide.

BOOK HERE YOUR FAST TRACK TICKET TO MILAN CATHEDRAL or HERE TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY A GUIDE TO ALL AREAS.


Milan Cathedral Only

2 | If you want to see the inside of Milan Cathedral only, with no Rooftop access and other areas, then THIS OPTION is the one for you.


Milan Cathedral Rooftop Only

3 | To go straight to the Rooftop of Milan Cathedral, and no access to the Duomo and other areas, SELECT THIS option.


Explore Yourself

4 | While a guided tour is encouraged, it is possible to explore Milan Cathedral, the Rooftop, Archaeological site and Museum at your own pace by yourself with an audio guide. If you want to do this, BOOK THIS OPTION OF MILAN CATHEDRAL + ROOFTOP WITH AN AUDIO GUIDE. This ticket is valid for three consecutive days, giving you plenty of time to amble through the spires, marvel at the splendour inside and learn all about the Cathedral’s 600-year history.


MILAN PASS: Can it be used at Milan Cathedral?

Yes, it can! Milan Pass or Milano Card holders can get admission to Milan Cathedral and the Duomo Rooftop for free. In addition, the Milan Pass is a really good ticket to free tours and free transportation. It includes:

  • 8 more of Milan’s most popular attractions including the La Scala Museum;
  • 7 free tour experiences;
  • free public transportion;
  • Hop-on hop-off bus tour;
  • Map + Milan guidebook.

Purchase your 48 or 72 hours pass online here before you go. It is valid for 200 days. Exchange it for a physical pass at Milan Visitor Centre.


Add more to your itinerary in Milan?

These tours combine several activities in a day, bringing you one of the best experiences in the fashion city of Milan. Go on a half-day tour. This includes a walking tour, the Milan Cathedral, seeing the renowned Leonardo’s The Last Supper painting or the La Scala Theatre. Click on the link to know exactly what is offered. Even if you add one of these experiences. it will surely make your trip in Milan very special.

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the Santa Maria delle Grazie and Leonardo’s The Last Supper painting at the refectory

DRESS CODE FOR THE MILAN CATHEDRAL

There is a dress code for visitors to Milan Cathedral, and it is recommended to dress appropriately out of respect for the religious significance of the site. The dress code states that visitors must cover their shoulders and knees, and avoid wearing shorts or revealing clothing. The dress code is enforced. Visitors who do not comply with the dress code may be denied entry into the cathedral or asked to cover up with provided shawls or scarves.


HOW TO REACH THE MILAN CATHEDRAL

The Milan Cathedral is located right in the city center and is easily accessible by public transportation. The Duomo metro station is located right next to the cathedral and serves both the M1 (red) and M3 (yellow) lines, making it easily accessible from different parts of Milan. Other nearby metro stations include “Cordusio” on line M1 and “Missori” on line M3.

In addition to the metro, the cathedral can also be reached by several bus and tram lines that stop nearby.

If you are arriving by train, you can take the metro from Milano Centrale or Milano Porta Garibaldi to the Duomo station. If you are arriving by plane, you can take the Malpensa Express train to Milano Cadorna station and then transfer to the metro. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or private car service directly to the Cathedral.

The address of Milan Cathedral is Piazza del Duomo, 20122 Milano MI, Italy.


I have here a definitive Guide to Getting around Milan like a Local which you may find helpful. The article is informative and covers pricing and ticket options for the trams and buses. Alongside this is a guide to the subway, the colours of the Metro Lines in Milan.


finally…

I guess that is all I have for you on the fascinating, riveting facts about the Milan Cathedral. You may have known some before now, and may have learnt something new from this post. In either case, I’m glad you are here and spent time reading.

Today, the Milan Cathedral stands as one of the greatest achievements of Gothic architecture, and a testament to the enduring power and influence of the Catholic Church in Milan and beyond. I hope you’ll enjoy discovering the splendour of Milan Cathedral on your visit.

Before you go, take a look at some of my travel tips for Milan and lovely neighbourhoods to stay in Milan. Go here to my Milan travel page to discover the many wonderful places to visit in Milan which are located nearby such as Parco Sempione, and Sforza Castle which can easily be explored in one day. The page has informative travel tips and ideas for life list activities.

When visiting Milan and if you have more time, it is really nice to include one or two destinations near Milan. Go here for all of my articles about Lake Como and the best towns to visit, including an off-beat charm. I have included a comprehensive guide to travel around Lake Como with or without a car which may be useful to you if you plan to add this destination to your itinerary. Verona and Lake Garda are also excellent day trip options. Go here to my Verona travel page and the best towns in Lake Garda to visit.


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Categorised as Italy

By Georgina

Georgina is a travel writer and a content creator. An escapist, she seeks stories, off-beat things to do, and adores the beauty of culture while embracing comfort and slow travel as a responsible traveller in the off-season. Georgina has lived in 3 continents, visited 30+ countries and strives to share her travel steps, passion, and experienced tips to inspire her readers to explore for themselves. Georgina enjoys venturing solo, takes pleasure in listening to classical, country & jazz, and delights in spending joyous time with A & M, her two adult children.

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