Most Impressive Cathedral I've Ever Seen

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by henrik_rrb on January 25, 2010

It took them more than 500 years to finish Il Duomo, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the cathedral in Milan is truly amazing.
The moment you come around the corner to the piazza, or exit the metro tunnels, your jaw will drop in pure surprise over the beauty.

It's for sure the most famous thing in the city, and also the place most tourists choose to visit.
Construction was begun in 1387, but it wasn't until 500 years later Il Duomo was finally finished.

Entrance is free. There will be security guards scanning through your bags, but there are very rarely any long lines to enter. Just remember to not arrive dressed in a sleveless t-shirt or too short skirt. Otherwise you won't be allowed to enter.


Unlike the St Peters church in Rome the cathedral in Milan has kept its religious feeling. It's true that one just want to kick some ass when visitors take photo after photo with the flash on, but most of the time it's a calm and nice atmosphere inside. It really feels like a church, and not a museum, so one can easily sit down on one of the benches and make a pray.

Il Duomo is the world's biggest gothic church, and you have no doubt about that when you start walking through the church hall. It's 12 000 m2 big, so it takes some time to walk through it. The colonnade is amazing, and it's hard to believe that something this big has been created by mankind.
52 columns divide the Duomo into five naves, and it's mostly the two on the flank that visitors will use.

It's also here you can light a candle and send a thought to the friends you have back home.
It cost 50 cent for a candle, and it's my favourite thing to do here.

*On top*

When you are finished with the tour inside the church it's time to come closer to God. Not by prayers, but by taking the elevator up to the roof top of the cathedral, plenty of meters above ground.
I should start by saying that if you are afraid of heights, you might have some problems here...

There are two ways to get up, and I would definitely recommened the more expensive one. For 6 euro you'll get a quick ride with the elevator (you'll find it on the back side of the cathedral, walk on the left side when standing in front of it) up to the top. If you're one of these super healthy persons you can also choose to pay 4,50 euro, and take the 300 stair steps up. But don't count on having too much energy left after that.

Milan is unfortunately not famous for having a good weather, but if you're lucky and the sky is clear you'll be able to see all the way to the Alps from the roof top.
What you can see everyday is instead all the big and small statues all around the roof. There are more than 3500 in total, and some of them are to be honest quite scary. The details on each statue is amazing, and my advice is to spend at least as much time on the roof as inside the cathedral itself.

The roof is built up on many different levels, from which you go on narrow stairs. Be aware that during high season it can be quite crowded on the roof, meaning that it can take some time to get up and down all the stairs.

If you choose to take the elevator, remember where you put the ticket. If you can't show the ticket to the guard when it's time to go down you'll have to walk down the 300 steps by foot instead.


The Piazza Duomo is almost as famous as the cathedral, and there always seem to be plenty of people around, also in the dark hours. In the beginning of the piazza there is a huge statue of Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy. He's accompanied by hundreds of pidgeons, who have done their bathroom business over more than one tourist through the years.

Best thing with the piazza according to me is that all traffic is forbidden. Instead there is a calm atmosphere, only disrupted by half blind pidgeons who every now and then risks flying straight into you, and then the guys trying to give away bracelets for free that they then wants to get paid for.

It's only at the end of the piazza you can find a long line of taxis. It's also from here the sightseeing bus starts that then takes you around Milan.

*How to get there*
Il Duomo is located in the central part of Milan, and it's a nice walk from almost anywhere. From the central station it's about 20 minutes walk. However, it's also easy to reach the sight by underground. Both red and yellow lines stops at the station called "Duomo".

The cathedral is open 7am-7pm. The roof top closes at 4.30pm. At night the whole cathedral looks beautiful thanks to all the lamps that sheds light over the building.
Milan Cathedral (Duomo)
Piazza Del Duomo
Milan, Lombardy

© LP 2000-2009