In Milan, all roads lead to the Duomo – a gigantic cathedral that is as old as the Roman empire itself. Any visitor who does not visit this place hasn’t been to Milan.
Why, oh why?
…because I have seen this place and I must say that I was shaken to my core when I saw how delicate the finesse of architectural art is combined with the size of the building. It is, after all, the largest church in Italy and the third largest in the world, covering 109,641 sq. ft. area.
Well, seeing one of the most fragile colossal structure in the world is one of the reasons why you should visit the Duomo. Below are 9 other reasons why I think you should spare some time for the cathedral.
Reasons Why You Should Visit The Duomo in Milan
1. See all the 3,400 statues
Combining both the inner and the outer statues of the cathedral, they make up to 3,400 statues, 700 figures, and 135 gargoyles. All of these inclusions make the building the most decorated one on the planet!
2. Set your watch by one of the oldest sundials
Near the entrance of the Duomo, there’s a large sundial on the ground that is as old as the building itself. It was placed by astronomers of the Accademia di Brera in 1768 and it is still laser precise.
3. Seek The Holy Nail
Just right above the apse, the red light bulb signifies the spot where one of the nails of the crucifixion of Jesus is placed. Although it is denoted by the bulb throughout the year, it is only brought down for public view by the archbishop on September 14.
4. Walk around the archaeological site under the Duomo
Yes, there’s an archaeological site under the Duomo. You have to get inside the cathedral and ask the guard where the site is. What you’d see there is the ancient Battistero Paleocristiano. Walk around and read the descriptions in each exhibit.
5. Touch the spires yourself
You can literally touch the spires of the Duomo after ascending to its roof. There’s an elevator inside the building; however, you can also climb the 200 steps to the top. For the former, you’d require Pass A while for the latter Pass B is necessary. If you’re lucky enough to reach there on Sunday, do prefer the Pass B. It is best to explore the top and the revealing view by climbing slowly and steadily.
6. Get closer to Virgin Mary
The highest and the central of the spires have erected the statue of the famous Madonnina – the Virgin Mary. Traditionally, no building in the city is supposed to be higher than this statue and once you climb to the roof, you can have a chance to look at it up close.
7. See the flayed skin statue of Saint Bartholomew
Impeccably structured by Marco d’ Agrate in around 1562, the statue of the Saint Bartholomew Flayed is placed to the left side of the altar. It is the most famous of all the statues in the cathedral and you’d see how the statue depicts the saint wearing his flayed skin on his shoulders. Ouch!
8. See the world’s only holy images illuminated from the inside
The Duomo is the world’s only cathedral that has its windows illuminated from the inside. Each image briefly tells a different story and like me, you can spend hours contemplating each of them.
9. Feast your eyes on the altars
There are three magnificent altars present inside the cathedral and all of them has a different artwork or statue associated with it. For example, the one by Federico Zuccari called Visit of Saint Peter to Saint Agatha Jailed and the Trivulzio Candelabrum.
The Duomo di Milano is a culmination of religious devotion. Although I’ve listed 10 things you can see in the cathedral, there are plenty of other things that I might have missed. It is up to you to discover them yourself.
WHERE TO STAY IN MILAN
I decided to stay at Hotel Ornato because there’s only a small difference compare to paying a bed in a hostel. I had nice room in this fabulous boutique hotel. It’s clean and the ambience is great! The staff are extra wonderful, too! The only thing that you might not like is that – it’s 30 minutes by tram to downtown Milan. If you don’t mind the commute, this hotel is perfect for you! Thirty minutes on the tram is a good way to get to know the city.