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Day Tours
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Sightseeing Tours

Milan Cathedral Tours & Activities

About Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral is one of the most important structures of cultural and religious significance in Milan. It is hailed as the second-largest cathedral in Italy and 3rd biggest catholic church in the entire world. It is dedicated to the Nativity of St. Mary and is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan. 

Constructed over the course of around seven centuries, this place has been a site of intense artistic debates, important religious declarations and movements, and political assertion. Today it stands proudly as a grand structure with varying artistic influences reflected in its construction and design. Thousands of visitors flock to this site every day to admire its imposing structure. 

Its architecture has elements of both the classical Gothic and Renaissance styles. The Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo is the organization that was instituted by the lord of Milan in 1386 to oversee the construction of this monument. This organization meticulously conserves this cathedral that is the ultimate example of cultural wholesomeness. 

You can have a mesmerizing view of the sunrise from the top of the cathedral. You can even roam around its various intricately designed corridors and marvel at the naturally lit hallways and the altar. It is a supremely surreal experience to see the imposing structure that has stood for centuries, and you must visit this cathedral if you’re visiting the beautiful city of Milan.

How to Reach Milan Cathedral

You can reach Milan Cathedral from Milan Malpensa Airport, which is the closest airport with a distance of around 50 KM by road. You can make this journey by train, or via road, or you can even take a cab.

By Train:
Close to the Milan Malpensa airport is the Malpensa Aeroporto station. You should take the XP1 line from T.1, and go till Milano Cadorna, which is a 37-minute ride. Getting off at Milano Cadorna, you should make the 70 meters walk to the subway, wherein you can take line 1 from the Cadorna Fn M1 station to the Duomo M1. After that, the Cathedral is a 330-meter walk away, which would take you approximately 3-5 minutes to cover. 

By Road:
You can either take a cab or drive a rental car yourself after you arrive at the airport. You should get on the SS 336, merge with A8 towards Milano before you eventually turn to the Autostradale Viale Certosa, and finally reach the Cathedra. This is the shortest route that is about 51.5 KM away.

Best Time to Visit Milan Cathedral

The best time to visit the cathedral is in the morning when the crowd is less, and you can soak into the allure of this cathedral in the best manner. The queues are also a lot smaller during the morning time. This time is the best to absorb the intricacies of its design without being disturbed by people around you.

Moreover, the way the cathedral is built, the sun rises from behind it, and so if you make it in time, you can have a great view of the sunrise here. However, an obvious exception is Sunday mornings. Every Sunday morning, there is inevitably some religious ceremony or festival slated to happen, and during that time, some parts of the cathedral are cordoned off for outside viewers. 

September to October and April to May are the best months to visit Milan Cathedral as the weather remains quite pleasant and the area is not so crowded in comparison to the other times of the year.

What Not to Miss at Milan Cathedral

Attached to the Milan Cathedral is a history of over seven centuries. This history has seeped into the lives of so many peoples and has gained cultural importance in many ways. From motivating architectural innovations to being an artistic and aesthetic site, it is the place of major cultural revolutions.

There are some very important ways in which the cathedral captured the imagination of the larger public, and influenced important parts of European culture: 

1. The musical chapel of Cathedral
It is considered to be one of the oldest cultural centers in Milan that was established in the year 1402 and is incessantly active even today. It holds an important place in history because it showcases the musical compilations by some of the greatest musicians in the past. Don Claudio Burgio currently is the director of the chapel and many religious feasts are organized here under his guidance.

2. Archive and Library
This section of the cathedral has preserved the book heritage and documentary that was collected and produced by Veneranda Fabbrica in around six hundred years. The huge variety of archival heritage that has been preserved here depict the complex history and marks the important events that happened in the institution over the course of time. 

3. The Madonnina
This is considered to be the beating heart of the city and is symbolic to the culture and tradition of Milan. The Madonnina- statue of virgin Mary is located on the top of the highest spire of the magnificently built cathedral and is an important civic symbol also.

4. The organ of the Duomo
The grand organ of the cathedral is considered to be the largest in Milan and is also hailed as one of the most splendid musical instruments in the entire world. Emanuele Carlo Vianelli is the principal organist in the cathedral and he organizes concert performances to appease the visitors.

5. The Duomo Museum
It is an institution that has originated from the Milan cathedral and all the works of display and art pieces preserved here have also been taken from the cathedral. If you visit this museum you’ll feel the essence of the cathedral everywhere over here. It is an extremely quiet place where you can admire the sculptures and you can appreciate the unique work of art.

Places to Visit near Milan Cathedral 

The Milan cathedral is placed in the heart of the city of Milan, and are several places around it that you can visit. Milan is a city of deep historical importance and cultural vibrancy, and so a day here will expose you to various elements of Italian and West European culture.

1. Il Cenacolo
Popularly known as ‘The Last Supper,’ this mural painting by Leonardo da Vinci is one of his most famous and respected works of art created by the famed polymath. It is currently housed at the refectory of the Covenant of Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. 

2. Castello Sforzesco
Known also as Sforza Castle, this is another structure that has deep ties with Gian Galeazzo Visconti, who actively participated in the expansion of this castle. It houses a number of interesting libraries and museums which recite the tales of the history of Milan. The visitors can marvel onto the huge collection of sculptures and art forms that have been preserved here.

3. Teatro alla Scala
Almost all notable operatic artists and talented singers have performed at alla Scala at least once in their life. You can discover the interesting history of the theater and the great artists who performed here in the past through the extensive collection of the museum.

4. Sant'Ambrogio
This is a beautiful church that was founded by St.Ambrose in 386 and is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. It houses the mosaic dome Sacello di San Vittore which is the main highlight of the church. The Carolingian art and architecture of the church is highly appreciated by the visitors.

Other Essential Information About Milan Cathedral

Piazza del Duomo, 20122 Milano MI, Italy

Opening Hours:
The cathedral stays open every day from 9 AM to 7 PM. 

Entry Fee:
There are separate tickets for individual areas of the cathedral. The prices are as follows:

- Cathedral – Adults 3€; Concessions 2€

- Rooftops via Fast-Track Lift – Adults 23€; Concessions 12€

- Museum and San Gottardo Church – Adults 3€; Concessions 1€

- Rooftops via Stairs – Adults 10€; Concessions 5€

- Rooftops via Lift – Adults 14€; Concessions 7€

- Concession tickets will be applicable to children below the age of 12. 

Distance from Nearest Airport: The nearest airport is the Milan Malpensa Airport, which is the closest airport with a distance of around 50 KM by road.

History of Milan Cathedral 

The history of the Milan Cathedral is filled with moments of great cultural, religious, and political importance. The cathedral was originally commissioned by the then lord of Milan to replace a similar structure that stood on the same site before this cathedral. Pope Martin V consecrated the site of the altar in the year 1418.

The construction of the structure was abandoned for a while in 1402 when the financial resources were scarce, but architectural discussions continued in relation to it long after that. The fact that it was never fully abandoned speaks volumes to the historically important role it has played in the cultural and religious fabric of Italy and Western Europe in general.

At various stages of its construction, a number of ingenious and unprecedented artistic decisions were made, which added to the vibrancy of the structure. Napoleon Bonaparte made intense renovations in the cathedral after he was crowned king of Italy, from 1807 to 1813. The structure was also severely impacted by a bombing in 1943, after which renovation work was taken up that could only be completed by 1965.  

Design & Construction of Milan Cathedral 

The design and construction of the Milan Cathedral reflect its history of piecemeal progress as far as constructions and repairs are concerned. It is the second largest cathedral in the world and around forty thousand people can fit comfortably within its premises.

The huge building is composed of Candoglia marble and a craftsmen's guild known as the Fabbrica del Duomo was appointed to build this iconic structure. Each of these artisans, craftsmen and builders were called from different areas of Europe and therefore the historical structure consists of distinct motifs from different parts of the continent. 

The design of the monument reflects a shift in religious and aesthetic priorities in Western Europe from the 14th century until the 20th century. It is important to note that religious structures hold a lot of distinct sociological importance.

The cathedral’s structures represent religious superiority and political reassertion. The lower parts of the cathedral show a lot more of a Renaissance influence, while the upper parts of the cathedral, including the façade, have a Gothic design. 

Interior and Exterior Design of Milan Cathedral

The Milan Cathedral is one of those monuments that has become a landmark of Milan. There are some interesting elements to its interior and exterior design, which are as follows:

1. Interior Design

- Presence of Side Aisles:
This design ensures that there is more floor space, as well as room for clerestory windows (which are essentially a series of windows arranged above eye-level, and are meant solely for illumination). It is due to the presence of the side aisles that the Milan Cathedral has the conventional look of a grand church. 

- Modular Design:
A module in architectural terms is an arbitrary term used to organize relative dimensions of different elements inside a particular premise, and the cathedral was also constructed on this basis. Milan cathedral has a modular shape, and its dimensions are based on the repeating units.

While the nave is double in width from the aisles, the width of the transept and width of the nave is nine times the module which gives a very magnanimous and unique appeal to the cathedral. 

2. Exterior Design

- The difference in Influences:
The design of Milan cathedral is highly differentiated in the lower and upper ends, especially for the façade because it was constructed over the span of six hundred years. While the lower ends are designed a lot more in the Renaissance style, the upper parts of the structure are a lot more Gothic in design. 

- Material and Appearance:
Terracotta was originally the material chosen to be used for the construction of the structure; however, eventually, marble was preferred for building it. The gold colored statue of virgin Mary that stands on the cathedral’s highest spire has been made with thin sheets of gold leaf.

Amazing facts about the Milan Cathedral

Being a structure with immense historical, cultural, and religious importance, the Milan Cathedral is truly unique. There are a number of interesting facts that showcase how important it has been across centuries:

- The cathedral is the 5th biggest church in the world and the 3rd largest catholic church in the world. The only four churches that outdo its size are the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, and Seville’s Cathedral. 

The cathedral includes 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles, and 700 figures, making it the building with the widest number of statues in the entire world. 

It is located near the entrance of the cathedral and serves as a timepiece as the ray of sunlight enters here from a hole on the opposite side of the structure to mark the beginning of the summer and winter’. 

It is a miraculous structure in the history of construction and architecture and it took six years for the construction of the catedral.

The layout of Milan city is based on the cathedral and the streets have been built circling or radiating it.

It is ninety two meters wide, and one fifty eight meters long and the church is inspired by the latin cross form. 

The cathedral features a huge variety of architectural designs as the architects were appointed from various countries such as Germany, France, Italy and other European regions. 

Milan cathedral’s roof is open to the public for a very nominal fee and you have to climb six stone stairways to reach the roof.
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People Also Ask About Milan Cathedral

  1. How long did it take to build Milan Cathedral?

    Taking into account all individual construction projects, the renovations, and reconstructions, the Milan Cathedral has taken around six centuries to build. It is definitely one of the longest worked-upon structures in all of Italy, and the cathedral that has been under construction for the longest time in the world.
  2. What is Milan cathedral made of?

    The material used for the construction of the cathedral is Candoglia marble. In fact, the decision made by Gian Galeazzo, to use Candoglia marble instead of the traditional Lombard brick was a historical one because there were very few artisans who knew how to work the new material, and so professionals had to be sought all around Italy.
  3. Why is Milan cathedral famous?

    There are various reasons why the cathedral is extremely famous. For one, it is the fifth-largest church of any persuasion, around the world, and the third-largest Catholic church in the world. Of all the largest churches in the world, it is also the oldest. Additionally, it is also famous because it has taken more time to build than any other structure in the world. From a religious standpoint, however, it is famous because it is dedicated to the Nativity of St. Mary, and is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan.
  4. Is the Milan cathedral free?

    No the Milan cathedral is not free and different parts of the structure charge different entry fees. There are also a number of great combination deals that different travel websites offer, and you can find the option that is the best for you and is the most economical.
  5. How old is the Milan Cathedral?

    The cathedral was first commissioned in the year 1385 and is around seven centuries old. It is one of the most significant structures in Milan that is visited by tourists from all across the world for the greatest sense of tranquility and cultural emancipation.

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