Thought I'd Died and Gone to Heaven

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Praskipark on June 9, 2013

Milan as a city has a lot to offer, some of the most fascinating buildings in Italy. The Duomo is one of these, Italy’s multi towered tribute to Gothic architecture. It’s a small city, quite compact and easy to get around. From our hotel situated close to the Loretto Metro stop it took about 10 minutes, 5 stops in all. Our navigation skills aren't always the best and we are never sure which exit to take but on this sunny morning we chose the right one and as I walked up the Metro steps with the blazing sunlight dashing into my eyes I spied a wondrous vision, the Duomo. I am sure Bryan Adams won't mind me using his lyrics if I say that, 'I thought I'd died and gone to heaven', a cliché I know but that is how I felt.

The Piazza del Duomo was bustling but people were behaving in an orderly fashion, queues were beginning to form to enter the inside of the cathedral but it was far too soon for me to do that, I wanted to take my time to explore this beautiful piece of architecture. I stood back near the monument dedicated to Vittorio Emanuel II to admire the cathedral in all is glory. The Duomo is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world although looking at its newly cleaned façade it doesn’t give the appearance of being gigantic. It is made of brick faced with marble and to me, looks like a very expensive and elaborate toy model floating underneath fluffy clouds of blue and white. I really was overcome with emotion and astounded by the physical beauty of this cathedral.

Apparently, two basilicas were built on this spot as far back as the 5th century but it wasn’t until 1075 that they were reconstructed into one building, the Duomo. Antonio da Saluzza, who was the Archbishop in 1386, had ideas to create a Gothic building that would really shine out so that you felt its presence from a distance. Work started in this year but went on for years and years. It’s only when you look at the details of the building you pick up on the Baroque and neo-classical influences.

I walked around the whole building looking up at the roof and into the sky for most of the time; my neck was aching by the end of the visit. I have never seen a cathedral furnished with so many pinnacles that are divided by a grove of steeples, topped with figurines that look out over the city. You really do have to look up to admire all the gargoyles, towers and the statue of the Madonna which sits on top of the main spire which stands at 109 metres.

The windows of the cathedral are spectacular and indeed very large, the ones situated in the choir area are the largest, I will describe this in my story about the Duomo interior which is coming up shortly and just by looking at the façade you are able to work out that the cathedral has five naves. Looking closely at the statues carved on some of the outside doors made me want to jump and down with excitement, such exquisite detail. How clever these sculptors were and what patience they must have had to painstakingly carve the smallest of features out of marble. I was astonished at these figurines and will remain to be astonished for the rest of my days.

The steps leading up to the front of the cathedral from the Piazza, the white squares painted on the piazza floor, Italian flags and a military band marching and playing in tune all made the experience of seeing the exterior of the Duomo, very special. The Duomo has to be Milan’s number one attraction, it is definitely mine. I fell in love with it at first sight; a really very beautiful building.

Address: Piazza del Duomo
Metro: 1,3 to Duomo; tram 1,2,3,12,24
Milan Cathedral (Duomo)
Piazza Del Duomo
Milan, Lombardy

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