Duomo di Milano
Sì, it’s Instagramable in the twilight hours when the square is empty, when water puddles linger here and there, when the pigeons are your only company. But there is more to the Duomo di Milano, the Milan Cathedral, than its facade. “I’m more than just a pretty face!” it says, beckoning you to explore its crypts and its alcoves, its stained glass and its statues, its view overlooking Cathedral Square.
Frequently photographed from across Piazza del Duomo, Milan’s main square, the world’s third largest Catholic church (surpassed in size only by Vatican City’s Basilica di San Pietro and Spain’s Catedral de Sevilla), Duomo di Milano is easily recognizable in many a Milanese photo. But much of Milan’s treasures reside indoors (take the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana collections or the Santa Maria delle Grazie‘s “Last Supper”), and the duomo is no exception.
The cathedral nave is lined with pillars that climb ever higher, rows upon rows of symmetry.
Its stained-glass windows stretch up and across, light filtering through in a brilliant display of color.
In a discreet corner, stairs lead down to an archeological underground, the original foundation giving you glimpses of patterned tile and baptismal fonts.
If the ancient architecture below ground is fascinating, the modern architecture high above ground is even more so. The terraces…oh, the terraces!
Let’s linger a while, shall we? From up here, you can look across rooftops towards the neighboring towers of San Gottardo or Martini (yes, the Italian vermouth), or the distant Bosco Verticale. It’s a great view, though I find myself looking higher still, up at church spires and through undulating arches. From le Terrazze del Duomo, the church’s architecture is doubly fascinating.
Also high up and on the cathedral exterior is a very particular sculpture. Look to the left. Seem familiar?
Created 70 years prior to New York’s Statue of Liberty, the statue of Legge Nuova (New Law), bears an uncanny resemblance to Liberty Enlightening the World.
You can find interesting sculptures all over and around the duomo, which is home to an astonishing 3,400 statues inside and out.
Want more? Steps from the cathedral is the Museo del Duomo. Yes, it’s primarily religious art, but it’s also a treasure trove of sculptures (my favorite!) that line the walls of intimate rooms, dim and tranquil.
From a rotunda of stained glass, the museo forks toward more art or the Cappella Palatina, the recently restored Church of San Gottardo.
If you want an up-close look of the cathedral’s details, you can do it here. Just don’t step too close to the replica or you might set off an alarm. I neither admit nor deny accidentally doing this. ;)