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Foto Cathedral -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Cathedral -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Cathedral -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Cathedral -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Cathedral -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Cathedral -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Cathedral -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Cathedral -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Cathedral -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Cathedral -  Churches / Religious buildings
Show an other treasure of art and history in Milan:
Milan - Churches / Religious buildings: CathedralMostly represented styles: Gothic - Renaissance - Baroque - Neogothic

The Duomo of Milan, or, better, the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the most important monument of Milan, so much so that it is its symbol to all intents and purposes.
It is the largest Italian church and is credited as the fourth largest church in the world, with an external length of 158 m., an external width of 93 m. and a maximum height, from the internal floor to the head of the Madonnina statue, of 108 m. The internal floor area is 8000 m2, while the total occupied area is 12000 m2

Various sacred buildings already stood on the area corresponding to the current cathedral and Duomo Square. In the area of the current Milan Cathedral was the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, dating back to the Carolingian era (consecrated in 836), opposite it was the older Basilica of Santa Tecla, built in the fourth century. Behind the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore was the ancient and octagonal Baptistery of St Stephen at the Sources ("Santo Stefano alle Fonti"). Built in the first half of the fourth century, it is thought that Sant'Ambrogio was baptized there.
Between the two basilicas was the Baptistery of Saint John at the Sources ("San Giovanni alle Fonti"), built by Saint Ambrose around 380 and in which Saint Ambrose baptized St. Augustine in 387.
All these buildings were demolished to make way for the new cathedral. One can only fantasize about what art treasures were lost forever, but it is comforting to know that a unique monument such as the current Milan Cathedral was built in their place.
The image comes from the page The episcopal complex
The construction of the Cathedral began in 1386, as attested by a plaque inside. However, it is not known exactly when the decision to build it was taken, although it can be said that this decision was due to the will of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan.
The construction of the Milan Cathedral has been going on for centuries and therefore there is no single architect to whom he can be attributed. In fact, many have alternated, various of which we do not even know the name. However, the first was Simone d'Orsenigo.
It seems that in the very early stages the construction of the new cathedral was set according to the stylistic canons of the Lombard Gothic, which would have led to a completely different building from the one visible today. It seems it was Gian Galeazzo Visconti, eager to endow his city with something unique in Italy, who imposed a radical innovation, opting for a layout borrowed from German Gothic and for the substitution of terracotta with marble.
It should also be noted that the Milan Cathedral, as a style, is in a certain sense too late, given that the Gothic at the end of the fourteenth century was at its sunset.
In the first twenty years of its construction, the structural and stylistic foundations of the cathedral were laid, with the construction of the apse and sacristies, the sizing of the pylons, the stylistic definition of the capitals and the erection of the first spire. The construction of the new cathedral was deeply felt by the Milanese people, and many lent their work for free or made donations. For his part, Duke Gian Galeazzo granted in 1387 the free use of the marble quarries of Candoglia and the serizzo ones of the upper Verbano.
For almost the entire first half of the fifteenth century the works were directed by Filippino degli Organi. In this century the apsidal part was completed, and it was equipped with splendid colored glass windows. The arms of the transept were built and the naves began to be built, which grew around the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which was still in use. In the second half of the century, part of what is now the Royal Palace, the Basilica of Santa Tecla and what still remained of the Basilica of San Maria Maggiore were demolished.
In 1473 Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza donated the Candoglia marble quarries to the Cathedral factory.
The century ended with the completion of the great dome, also thanks to the contributions of the architects Guiniforte Solari, Giovanni Antonio Amadeo and Gian Giacomo Dolcebuono.
Donato Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci also participated in the discussions on how to build the tiburium placed around this dome.
In 1522 Giovanni Antonio Amadeo died, after having lent his work to the Cathedral Factory for almost half a century. The works stopped for a few decades, but resumed in 1567, the year in which the direction of the works was assumed by Pellegrino Tibaldi. He encountered various difficulties in integrating into the construction site, because he was already oriented towards the new Roman styles, while in Milan it was still Gothic.
In the seventeenth century, with Milan was dominated by the Spaniards, Federico Borromeo became bishop and under him the works received new impetus. The century saw various important personalities in charge of the works: Fabio Mangone (1617 to 1629), Francesco Maria Richini (1631 to 1638), Carlo Buzzi (1638 to 1658) and even Gian Lorenzo Bernini, as consultant for the façade in 1656. In the second decade the facade was begun, according to a project by Pellegrino Tibaldi reworked by the Richini. With Carlo Buzzi, however, the facade returned to follow Gothic stylistic features, according to a project of 1655, in accordance with the aim of guaranteeing greater stylistic homogeneity to the cathedral.
In the eighteenth century, while the Spanish rule persisted, the works slowed down sharply. In the second half of the century the roof covering was completed and many spiers were erected, including the main one, begun in 1765. In 1774 the gilded copper statue of the Virgin, modeled by Giuseppe Perego, was placed at its apex.
The nineteenth century was marked by Napoleon's rule over Milan. On May 26, 1805 Napoleon Bonaparte had himself crowned King of Italy in the Cathedral of Milan, after having ordered the completion of the facade three days earlier so that costs and times could be reduced as much as possible. The works thus resumed according to the projects of Carlo Felice Soave and Leopoldo Pollack, simplified elaborations of the project by Carlo Buzzi. In the first half of the century the decoration of the vaults with a faux marble fretwork painting was begun. In the second half of the century the spiers were finally completed. Unfortunately, various windows were also restored, replacing the original glass paints with new paints on glass of significantly lower quality. At the end of the century there was much discussion about whether and how to redo the facade. In 1888, an international competition even took place in which 120 architects took part. It was won by Giuseppe Brentano, who presented a decidedly more Gothic facade project than the existing one. His premature death and economic problems led to the definitive suspension of the works and the Napoleonic facade was maintained, much less in tune with the rest, but certainly (and perhaps precisely for that reason) very particular and characteristic.
The final details (but not the maintenance work, which is continuous and will never end) were completed in the twentieth century. In 1906 the central bronze door by Ludovico Pogliaghi was placed.
The bombings of 1943 seriously damaged the cathedral. Fortunately, after the war all the wounds were gradually healed.

Due to the complexity of the monument, characterized by an immense number of details, it will only be briefly described. Anyone interested in learning more is invited to purchase one of the numerous books dedicated to the Cathedral of Milan or also to carry out the guided tour 'Detailed tour of the Milan Cathedral'.
The Cathedral of Milan has a general structure in the shape of a Latin cross, with projecting transepts. The interior has five naves and behind the presbytery there is a large ambulatory. With the exception of the internal terracotta vaults, all that is visible of the Cathedral is in Candoglia marble, a pinkish-white stone with grey-blue veins.

1. Exterior
Externally the Milan Cathedral is decorated with an endless number (over 2200) of marble statues of various sizes, of which 420 on the façade alone. In addition, there are 96 giants holding up the gargoyles for draining rainwater.
There are a total of 135 spiers.
Also worth mentioning are the approximately 800 all different heads which act as shelves to support the frame of trefoil arches which runs along the entire upper edge of the high base plinth.
The facade is marked vertically by buttresses which divide it into five spans, corresponding to the naves inside.
At the base there are two orders of high reliefs made in the seventeenth century and depicting episodes and symbols of the Old Testament.
Three orders of statues follow at different heights, mostly executed between 1808 and 1811 by different sculptors. Apostles are depicted in the lower order, with the statues of Peter and Paul (sculpted in 1612 by Gaspare Vismara) placed on either side of the central entrance. The Major Prophets are depicted in the middle order and the Minor Prophets in the upper order.
In the tympanums of the portals there are high reliefs of significant artistic value. Starting from the extreme left portal and going to the right:
- Esther and Ahasuerus (G. Andrea Biffi, 1629-1635)
- Sisara and Jael (Giovan Pietro Lasagni, 1629-1639)
- (central door) The Creation of Eve (Gaspare Vismara based on drawings by Gian Battista Crespi known as il Cerano, 1635)
- Judith and Holofernes (Gaspare Vismara, 1632-1635)
- Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (Gaspare Vismara, 1629-1631)
The doors
They are all in bronze and completely occupied by high reliefs.
First door from the left: It was inaugurated in 1948 and is the work of Arrigo Minerbi. It is dedicated to the Affirmation of Christianity.
Second door from the left: It is the work of Giannino Castiglioni, who built it in 1950. It is dedicated to St. Ambrose.
Central door: by Ludovico Pogliaghi, 1894-1908. It is dedicated to the Life of the Virgin Mary. On her doors are depicted episodes of her life while in the panel above is depicted the Coronation of her. The style is neo-Gothic, with however already anticipations of art nouveau.
Second door from the right: work by Franco Lombardi (1950). It is dedicated to the civil and religious affirmation of the Municipality of Milan.
First door from the right: work by Luciano Minguzzi (1965). It is dedicated to the history of the Cathedral itself.
Also the windows of the first order have a pediment, inside which there are valuable sculptures. Above the windows on the left looking at the cathedral are Hagar and Ishmael (Giuseppe Vismare, 1643-1645) and Boaz and Ruth (Antonio Bono, 1658-1661), above those on the right Apparition of the Mother to Samson (Dionigi Bussola, 1659) and the Profess Debora (Giuseppe Riccardi 1787?).
In the tympanum of the central window there is the dedication of the cathedral, "MARIAE NASCENTI", while on the central balcony there are two statues of the Law of Christ and the Law of Moses, to which correspond on the sides of the upper window, the statues of St. John the Baptist (G. Buzzi, 1810) and Moses (C. Pacetti, 1810).
The rear part of the Milan Cathedral, and in particular the apse, represent its most exquisitely Gothic part. The apse is polygonal and has three huge windows completed in 1402. Each one is 11 meters wide and approx. 22.5 meters high and is divided by thin ribs into 12 vertical sections which at the top end in a large rosette with graceful and elegant lines.
The central window, which acts as the back wall of the choir, houses, in the area inside the arch, a representation of salvation. The Annunciation is represented by the two side statues of the Virgin and the Archangel Gabriel. In the center the Rayed Sun symbol of Christ. Above it the symbol of the Holy Spirit and at the apex a tondo with the Eternal Father. It should be noted that the Rayed Sun is also one of the symbols of the Visconti family, while the Holy Spirit was not represented by a dove, but by an eagle. Furthermore, at the base of the area included in the arch there is a row of coats of arms of the Visconti. In this way the homage to God overlaps with that to the prince and his family.

2. Interior
The Cathedral of Milan has a Latin cross basilical plan, with five longitudinal naves and three transversal ones in the arms of the transept. 52 pillars 24 m high (plus 6 m of capital) and 2.5 m wide support the Gothic vaults and separate the naves.
The thing that most characterizes the interior of the Cathedral is the sense of indefiniteness of space in the vertical direction. The height of the vaults (the central nave is 45.55 m high) is such as not to allow an exact perception.
The internal height of the central dome is even 64.3 m.
Although less prominent, there are also more than 1200 statues inside, dating from the fourteenth century to the present day. In particular, the capitals are each equipped with eight major statues and a variable number of minor statues, such as to reach a total of 40 statues in some capitals.
Immediately behind the facade is the entrance to the underground archaeological area, which allows to visit the remains of some of the sacred buildings eliminated to make way for the Cathedral. The route crosses the remains of the Baptistery of St Stephen at the Sources. Its structure (almost 20 m in diameter) must have been similar to that of the still existing Chapel of Sant'Aquilino in the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio, with an octagonal structure and an alternation of rectangular and semicircular niches. We then reach the remains of the apse of the Basilica of Santa Tecla, in the double version of the beginning and of the end of the fourth century. There are also the remains of various medieval tombs.
Right wall
Starting from the facade:
Span 1: The sarcophagus in serizzo stone of Archbishop Ariberto, who died in 1005, is placed against the wall.
Above it a copy of the Ariberto da Antimiano Crucifix. The original is located today in the Museum of the Cathedral.
On the wall there is also a plaque that attests to the alleged date of foundation of the cathedral: "El principio dil Domo di Milano fu nel anno 1386".
The window is dedicated to St. John Evangelist. It was donated by the college of notaries in 1473 and represents a precious testimony of the art of the glass of the second half of the fifteenth century.
Span 2: The Mausoleum Visconti, in honor of the Archbishops Otto (who died in 1295) and Giovanni II Visconti (who died in 1353) and transferred to the cathedral from the ancient Basilica of Santa Tecla, is leaning to the wall. It is composed of a rectangular sarcophagus supported by two red marble columns. In addition there is a bas-relief depicting Ottone Visconti among the symbols of the Evangelists, while on the front side a long inscription is engraved in Gothic characters.
The window is composite. Most of the glass panels date back to the sixteenth century and depict stories of the Old Testament. The rest are dedicated to the Passion of Christ.
Span 3: On the wall there is a large plaque with the chronological list of the Archbishops of Milan, from St. Antolonius onwards.
The window includes glass panels of the sixteenth century depicting both episodes of the Old and of the New Testament.
Span 4: On the wall, resting on shelves, there is a large gothic marble sarcophagus, erected on a design by Filippino degli Organi in 1408, in memory of Marco Carelli, a rich Milanese merchant who died in Venice in 1394 and who donated to the Factory of the Cathedral 35000 gold duchies. The eight statues of the Doctors of the Church and of the Evangelists are attributed to Jacopino da Tradate.
Span 5: On the wall there are two tombstones, one in memory of the edict of Constantine from 313 and one dedicated to Giuseppe Brentano, winner in 1888 of the competition for a new facade.
The monument to Giovanni Andrea Vimercati furthermore present on the wall, built by Agostino Busti around the mid-sixteenth century.

The lateral marble altars along the naves were designed by Pellegrini Tibaldi at the time of San Carlo Borromeo in a late renaissance style with already baroque elements, but were built only in the following decades most of them by Martino Bassi.

Span 6: On the wall is the altar of St. Agata. The altarpiece depicts Sant'Agata visited in prison by St. Peter and was restored in 1603 by Paolo Camillo Landriani called the Duchino.
The window is dedicated to the life of St. Eligius and was built by Nicolò da Varallo at the end of the fifteenth century on commission of the College of Milanese goldsmiths.
Span 7: The altar of the Sacred Heart is located on the wall. The altarpiece, from 1957 on the design of Edoardo Rubino, is in marble and depicts the sacred heart between the saints Ambrose and Carlo. The statues of the tympanum are from 1596, those on the sides of the altarpiece (depicting Saint James Major and Saint James Mino) of 1842.
The window is the most recent among those of the Duomo, having been realized in 1988. It is dedicated to the archbishops Cardinal Alfredo Ildefono Schuster and Cardinal Carlo Andrea Ferrari, depicted between Christ Good Shepherd and Christ Master.
Span 8: On the wall is the altar "VIRGO POTENS", dedicated to the Virgin. The altarpiece is a marble high-relief of 1393 depicting the Virgin between the saints Paul and Caterina, in a setting of musician angels. The statues are instead of the end of the sixteenth century.
The window, created between 1897 and 1905 by Pompeo and Paolo Bertini, is dedicated to the lower part of St. Agnes, in the upper one in St. Tecla. In the middle there are then five glass panels dedicated to the Virgin of the Snow between the saints Victor and Rocco.
Right arm of the transept - western wall: On the wall there is the large funeral monument to Gian Giacomo Medici from Marignano called the Medeghino. It was made by Leone Leoni of Arezzo, to whom he was commissioned in 1564 by Pope Pius IV, uncle of San Carlo Borromeo, in honor of his brother Gian Giacomo, captain of fortune. Among the marble columns there are the statues of militia and peace and those of the Medici. In the fastigium, a bronze Nativity.
The window is by Giovanni Battista and Giuseppe Bertini and is dedicated to Saints Gervasius and Protasius.
Background wall of the western lateral nave of the southern transept: the altar on the wall, called of Pius IV and dedicated to the Assumption and to St. James Apostle, dates back to the sixteenth century. He was donated by Pope Medici to his nephew Cardinal Carlo Borromeo. It is rich in exotic marbles and hard stones.
The window was commissioned by Pope Pius IV in honor of the already mentioned brother Gian Giacomo and is dedicated to the apostle St. James Major and is a work of great value by Corrado de Mochis da Cologne.
Apse of the right arm of the transept: the great altar, of the early eighteenth century, is dedicated to San Giovanni Buono, bishop of Milan in the seventh century. At the center is a statue of the saint (Elia Buzzi, 1763), on the sides those of the custodian angel (still Buzzi) and St. Michael (G. B. Bellandi). Then there are six high-relief (1690-1707) on the two pilasters of the arch depicting episodes of the life of the saint. Among them the statues of prudence and justice (Zarabatta, 1683) and of temperance and fortress (Vismara, 1693-1701). The vault is occupied by an eighteenth-century high-relief depicting angels and saints bishops.
Background wall of the eastern lateral nave of the southern transept: the window was made by Biagio and Giuseppe Arcimboldi between 1549 and 1557 and is dedicated to St. Caterina of Alexandria. There is also a Annunciation on top.
Right arm of the transept - eastern wall, external span: Next to the lateral door of entry to the cathedral there is the altar of the presentation of the Virgin Mary at the Temple. The marble altarpiece with a high relief depicting the Presentation of Mary at the Temple is a work of Agostino Busti called the Bambaja and is from 1543 (by the same artist the statue of St. Martin on the left and the statues of the tympanum). The front of the altar, depicting the birth of Mary, is much more recent as it was made by Antonio Tantardini in 1863.
The window is dedicated to the life of St. Martin from Tours, whose life is told from top to bottom. There is also a Presentation of Mary at the Temple . In the center there are furthermore six glass panels depicting busts of prophets. They represent the oldest glass still present in the Cathedral and were made by Michelino da Besozzo at the beginning of the fifteenth century.
On the border with the innermost span there is the famous Statue of St. Bartholomew who carries his skin that was removed during the martyrdom on his shoulders. It was made by Marco D'Agrate in 1562.
Windows of the apse of the right arm of the transept: They are dedicated to the life of San Giovanni Buono and were made by Giovanni Bertini between 1839 and 1842.
Right arm of the transept - Eastern wall, internal span: The wall is occupied by the altar of St. Agnes of 1595. The marble altarpiece depicts the martyrdom of St. Agnes and was made by Carlo and G. Domenico Beretta in 1750. The many statues are from the sixteenth century.
Ambulatory counterclockwise - span 1: the wall hosts the portal of the southern sacristy, the first sculptural work inserted in the internal architecture of the Cathedral. It is divided into two distinct parts: the lower one, very simple and decorated solely with fourteenth-century heads of prophets in the architrave, and the upper one richly decorated in Gothic style and work of Hans Fernach (1391) and his workshop.
In the upper part, above a band in which the wise virgins and the crazy virgins are depicted, there is a bas-relief depicting the Madonna enthroned and, in the Cuspid, one depicting the Crowned virgin. Various episodes of Mary's life are represented on the arch. To be noted also the rich decoration with Gothic leaves and, at the apex, a Gothic flower containing a crucifix.
Originally the portal was painted, but only traces remain of the original colors.
The southern, or chapter sacristy, contains numerous interesting works.
- A Gothic niche containing a sink in polychrome marbles and a high-relief depicting Jesus and the Samaritan (1396, Giovannino de'Grassi)
- Large antique furniture of massive wood containing precious sacred furnishings of various kinds
- The fifteenth -century cuspidated table depicting the Madonna of the Idea on one side and a Presentation at the temple on the other, probably by Michelino da Besozzo.
- Statue of the Christ to the column of Cristoforo Solari.
Ambulatory counterclockwise - span 2: On the wall there is on the right a fresco called Virgin of the Help, Nursing Madonna or Virgin of the Birth. He was painted in 1566 by Gianpietro Sormani.
Above it is the monument to Pope Martin V, carved by Jacopino da Tradate in 1424 on commission by Filippo Maria Visconti. It is characterized by its realism, which distinguishes it from the French and German coeval statues. Noteworth the shelf and the frame, richly decorated with Gothic leaves.
On the left is the funeral monument to Cardinal Marino Caracciolo, who died in 1538 and was governor of Milan under Charles V, curiously made in a dark almost black marble. Of high quality the statues, work of Agostino Busti called the Bambaja and of Christoforo Lombardo. The cardinal is represented sleeping under the gaze of the Christ among the saints Peter, Paul, Jerome and Ambrose.
Ambulatory counterclockwise - span 3: There is a bas-relief depicting a Pietà dating back to the last decade of the fourteenth century.

The walls of the ambulatory host numerous tombstones in memory of various members of the Sforza family, whose coffins were for a certain time hanging from the vaults and among the pylons, due to the lack of better spaces, and which San Carlo let remove.

The three monumental back windows of the apse represent one of the most significant complexes of the international Gothic. They were made starting from 1413. The glass that decorated them was made by Stefano da Pandino (central window) and by Franceschino Zavattari and Maffiolo da Cremona (side windows).
Unfortunately, the damage accumulated over the centuries led in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to too invasive interventions, which caused the loss of many parts that actually could be kept in the original. This happened in particular following the action of Giovanni Bertini and his sons in the nineteenth century.

Ambulatory counterclockwise - span 4: Includes the right background window of the apse. It is dedicated to the New Testament. The glass was completely redone in the nineteenth century.
Ambulatory counterclockwise - span 5: Includes the central background window of the apse. It is dedicated to the apocalypse. The glass plates of the upper part are glass of fifteenth and sixteenth centuries restored. Those of the lower part are instead of the nineteenth century.
Ambulatory counterclockwise - span 6: Includes the left background window. The window is dedicated to the Old Testament. All the glasses were redone in the nineteenth century.
On the wall there is the Crucifix of Mercy, of the beginning of the thirteenth century, made in the Byzantine Empire and brought to Milan by the Bishop Grosolano.
Ambulatory counterclockwise - span 7: On the wall there is the Fresco of the Crucifix, with the crucifix in the center between the Virgin and St. John Evangelist and the Saints Gervasius and Protasius, what remains of the vast cycle of frescoes that originally occupied the walls of the ambulatory.
On the wall there is also a Renaissance statue of Pius IV, uncle of San Carlo and the torn fresco called the Virgin of the Rose, painted in 1394.
Ambulatory counterclockwise - span 8: The wall hosts the Gothic portal of the northern sacristy, made in 1389 by Giacomo da Campione. The portal is divided into two parts. The lower one includes the door and above it a lunette with a high relief depicting the Savior on the throne between the Virgin and St. John Baptist. The latter offers the Redeemer his head on a plate. The lunette is surrounded by a frame of quadrilobate tiles containing prophet heads.
The upper part is instead made up of an ogiva shaped edicule surmounted by an architectural cusp with the Glory of Christ the King depicted inside, sitting on the throne supported by Cherubs and surrounded by saints.
The northern sacristy, or aquilononaris or of the masses, constitutes the oldest part of the Cathedral. The walls are occupied by large walnuts wardrobes of the sixteenth century containing sacred vestments. The vaults are decorated with frescoes by Camillo Procaccini. There are furthermore a late sixteenth-century sink and various valuable canvases.
To the left of the portal of the sacristy there is a display case with a silk and gold banner inside made by Ludovica Antonia Pellegrini in 1583 and depicting the Virgin with the child at the center of a frame of medallions depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary.
Left arm of the transept - Eastern wall, internal span: on the wall there is the altar of Santa Tecla. The altarpiece depicts the martyrdom of the Saint and was painted by Carlo Beretta in 1754.
Left arm of the transept - Eastern wall, external span: on the wall there is the altar of St. Pressade. The altarpiece (1608-1612) is by Antonio Prestinari and depicts Christ crucified between the three Marie, San Carlo and Santa Pressade.
The current window was made in the years 1478-1480 by Nicola da Varallo on commission of the Speziale College and is dedicated to the life of John of Damascus, told from the bottom up and from the left to the right.
Apse of the left arm of the transept: In it there is the Altar of the Virgin of the Tree, so called in reference to a previous altar. It was designed in 1571 by Tolomeo Rinaldi, was begun with changes by Francesco Maria Richini and completed by Fabio Mangoni. There are six valuable highrreliefs depicting episodes of the life of the Virgin on the pilasters of the arch. The large central statue of the Madonna and Child was made in 1778 by Elia Vincenzo Buzzi.
At the top then there are seventeenth-century statues of San Carlo, St. Anna, St. Joachine and St. Dominicus.
The vault is a rich marble decoration in high-relief created by various artists.
In the center of the left arm of the transept there is the Trivulzian candelabrum, a gift of the archpriest of the Cathedral Giovanni Battista Trivulzio in 1562 and attributed to Nicola da Verdun who would have made it in the eleventh century, although some some experts consider it even older and made by several different workshops. In the upper part it underwent later changes.
It is a bronze fusion comprising numerous representations of subjects typical of the medieval art: the signs of the zodiac, the vices and virtues, the various arts and episodes of the Old Testament. The central node of the stem is occupied by the Magi, depicted while riding to the Virgin and Child.
Background wall of the western lateral nave of the northern transept: on the wall there is the altar of Saint Catherine from Siena, coming from the Basilica of Santa Tecla and the only Gothic altar of the Cathedral. There are still traces of the original golden layer on it typical of Lombard art of the beginning of the fifteenth century.
The statue of the Saint, in the center, is a carved and painted wooden sculpture of the Baroque era.
Also the upper part of the window, made in 1562 by Corrado de Mochis from Cologne and workshop and to be read from left to right and from above, is dedicated to Saint Catherine from Siena. The lower part of the window, to be read instead from left to the right and from bottom to top, presents episodes of the life of the Virgin immediately preceding the incarnation. At the top (in the middle of the window, therefore) there are furthermore a Annunciation and a Nativity.
Left arm of the transept - western wall: the window is dedicated to the Holy Apostles. It was made in 1567 by Corrado de Mochis on drawings by Carlo Urbini da Crema.
Left wall
Starting from the transept, but counting, by symmetry with the other side, from the facade:
Span 8: On the wall there is the altar of Saint Ambrose. The altarpiece was painted in 1600 by Federico Barocci and portrays Saint Ambrose receiving the Emperor Theodosius at the entrance of the cathedral.
Also tThe window is dedicated to Saint Ambrose. Made in the second half of the nineteenth century by Pompeo Bertini, the main episodes of the life of the saint are represented in it.
Span 7: on the wall there is the altar of St. Joseph. The altarpiece is by Enea Salmeggia and depicts the Marriage of the Virgin. The various statues represent David and the prophet Aaron (on the sides), patriarchs and prophets (in the tympanon).
Also the window is dedicated to St. Joseph, with four episodes of his life represented. It should be read from the bottom up.
Span 6: On the wall there is the altar of the Crucifix of San Carlo. The chapel was renewed in 1673. At the center of the altar's retable is placed the great crucifix which, according to tradition, San Carlo brought into procession during the plague of 1576.
On the left there is a statue of St. Mary Magdalene (Giovanni Antonio Labus, 1842), on the right one of St. Mary of Cleofe (Benedetto Cacciatori, 1842). The statues on the tympanon date back 1597.
The window is dedicated to St. Helen and the discovery of the cross and was made between 1570 and 1577.
Span 5: On the wall there is what remains of the monument that Francesco Sforza erected in the fifteenth century in memory of his captain Alessandro Tarchetta.
The window is dedicated to The glories of the Virgin and was made around 1565.
Span 4: The window is dedicated to Saints Four Crowned (four Christian sculptors Claudius, Nicostratus, Sinforianus and Castorius, martyrs under Nero). It was made by Conrad from Cologne shortly before his death in 1569 on Pellegrino Tibaldi drawings.
Span 3: On the wall there is the Mausoleum of the Arcimboldi, ie the monument to three archbishops of Milan at the turn of the centuries fifteenth and sixteenth belonging to the Arcimboldi family: Giovanni, Guido Antonio and Giovanni Angelo.
The window is from 1939, was created by Giovanni Buffa and is dedicated to St. Michael Archangel. It has the peculiarity of being occupied by a single great scene.
Span 2: On the wall there is a large red marble polyptych in which eight figures of apostles are represented. Made at the end of the eleventh century it was previously located in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
The window includes, casually arranged, glas plates from the apsidal windows.
Among the two pylons closest to the wall there is the baptistery, consisting of a 7.5m tall aedicule in fine marble. It was built by Pallegrino Tibaldi in the sixteenth century. The baptismal tank in red porphyry perhaps comes from the spa of Emperor Massemian Herculean and was first in the Basilica of San Dionigi (no longer existing).
Span 1: On the wall there is the sundial made in 1786 according to the specifications of Ruggero Boscovich.
At noon the sunlight, passing through a special hole in the vaults, reaches a special brass bar inserted in the floor.
The window is dedicated to the History of King David and was made in 1939 by Aldo Carpi.
Counterfacade: solemn, yet simple, it has portals and lower windows of the seventeenth century and a large central portal with the architrave supported by two pink granite columns made by Richini.
On the internal balcony, two large statues of 1837 pose, depicting San Carlo and Sant'Ambrogio. The neo-Gothic windows are instead of the nineteenth century.
The first order windows depict, from the left to right:
- Santa Tecla, made by Pietro Bagatti Valsecchi
- Sant'Ambrogio elected bishop of Milan, made by Giuseppe Bertini
- San Carlo Borromeo sells the Principality of Oria, made by Giuseppe Bertini
- St. Michael Archangel, by Giuseppe and Pompeo Bertini
The second-order windows depict, from left to right:
- Celebration of the Church, created by Giovanni Hajnal
- The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, by Giovanni Battista Bertini
- The Synagoge, by Giovanni Hajnal
Neo-Gothic window at the top center:
- It is dedicated to the Trinity and its divine attributes, also made by Giovanni Hajnal.
Vaults of the naves: They were made in Lonbard way, ie in terracotta bricks, with Candoglia marble ribs. At the beginning of the nineteenth century they were decorated in tempera with simulations of Gothic fretworks. In a part of the coverage of the cathedral this decoration was removed during the restorations that took place between 1962 and 1971.
Floor: It is in polychrome marble. It was started in 1585 by Martino Bassi on a drawing by Pellegrino Tibaldi. It was largely redone since 1938. Gothic and baroque motifs in red and black marble motifs are inlaid on a Candoglia marble background. The floor is more elaborate in correspondence with the great altars of the Virgin and Giovanni Buono.
Tiburium: its construction was the main problem in the design of the Cathedral, so much so that to complete the dome it took 120 years and other 300 years were needed to complete the tiburium.
The tiburium complex includes the large dome placed above the crossing, the octagonal structure that envelops it externally and the large spire, the four secondary spiers around and the connection structures.
The four pylons of the crossing, reinforced compared to the others, supports the tiburiums. Four acute arches depart from them. The connecting pendentives between the arches transform the square base into an octagonal. Many architects contributed to the construction of the tiburium. Among them Matteo da Campione, Guiniforte Solari, Leonardo da Vinci, Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, Gian Giacomo Dolcebuono and Donato Bramante.
In the four pendentives of the dome they are round paintings with inside representations of the busts of the doctors of the western church: Jerome, Ambrose, Augustinus and Gregory the Great. Instead, 60 statues of prophets, leaders, characters of the Jewish people and the mythical Sibyls are inserted within the four arches.
The structure of the tiburium has a theological meaning, as well as aesthetic. Perhaps even twofold. On the one hand, in fact, it would correspond to God sitting on the throne (greater spire) surrounded by the four evangelists (four spires around the main one). On the other hand, it is a glorification of the Virgin Mary, in fact represented at the apex of the main spire, declared by the four doctors of the church depicted in the plumes. In this sense, the Cathedral of Milan can be seen as the Marian sanctuary par excellence.
In line with the theological meaning of the tiburium are also the marble rounds at the top of the vaults of the presbytery, of the choir and of the apse: in the first is depicted St. John the Baptist, in the second a Madonna and Child, in the third the head of the Eternal Father, this last one in gilded bronze and today replaced by a copy, with the original in the Duomo Museum.
The windows of the tiburium are recent (they were inaugurated in 1968) and are dedicated to the Vatican Council II.
Pulpits: They are placed on the sides of the entrance of the presbytery. They were started at the time of Carlo Borromeo and completed under Federico Borromeo. They are both circular and equipped with sumptuous parapets in gilded copper designed by Pellegrino Tibaldi.
The left pulpit bears stories of the New Testament and appears to rest on shelves depicting the symbols of the evangelists. The right pulpit instead bears stories of the Old Testament and is supported by shelves depicting the Doctors of the Church.
Senatorial choir and organs: The senatorial choir is the raised part of the presbytery, corresponding to the terminal part of the central nave, and derives its name from the fact that it was once reserved for the authorities and representatives of the people. It was designed in 1550 in order to be able to make a chapel under it.
On the sides of the senatorial choir are the two organs of the Cathedral, located above two balconies. The left organ was made between 1533 and 1577, the right one was completed in 1588. Both organs end up upwards with a monumental dome decorated with sixteen painted and gilded wooden statues made at the beginning of the seventeenth century by Giovanni Taurino and Pietro Appiano called the Locarno. The two large organs are closed by 14 doors with canvases depicting episodes of the Old and the New Testament. Unfortunately, two additional canvases were lost during the Second World War.
The presbytery area was designed by Pellegrino Tibaldi in the second half of the sixteenth century and completed by Francesco Maria Richini in the following century. Its current division is the result of the renewal occurred after the restoration of the pylons of the thiburium in 1984 and was defined according to the dictates of the Vatican Council II. Today the presbytery is divided into two parts, with different features: the festive presbytery, facing the central nave and occupying a part of the central nave and the old senatorial choir, and the weekday presbytery, facing the apse.
At the center of the festive presbytery is the main altar, from the end of the twelfth century and coming from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Its top plate is supported by ten semioctagonal pillars connected by flat stone panels. The central two of the larger sides are however enriched by relief depictions. In fact, they come from a third century Roman sarcophagus.
Behind the altar is the new choir, semicircular and interrupted in the center, in order to allow to reach the ciborium behind it.
Placed above a large base richly decorated base and reachable via short stairs, the ciborium is a temple made up of eight columns in golden bronze supporting a dome crowned by a statue of Christ triumphant and containing inside the tabernacle supported by four Angels.
The ciborium was designed by Pellegrino Tibaldi in the second half of the sixteenth century.
The tabernacle is a gift from Pope Pius IV to his nephew Cardinal Carlo Borromeo and is a precious treasure chest with the shape of a classical circular temple. Its base is decorated with a bronze bas-relief depicting the life of Jesus. At the apex a crown of statuettes depicting the apostles and in the center a statue of the blessing Christ.
The original choir, the carved walnut one that occupies the lower part of the walls of the central apse, includes two rows of seats and was made in the sixteenth century. The dossals, almost all designed by Pellegrino Tibaldi, depict in the upper row the life of St. Ambrose and of Saints Martyrs.
The dossals of the stalls of the lower row instead depict holy bishops of the Ambrosian church.
On the vault of the choir, the "Sacred nail", ie a nail of the cross of Christ that tradition would like to have been donated to St. Ambrose by Emperor Constantine, is preserved within a crystal display case. Every year, on September 14, it is taken from the Archbishop of Milan, who reaches it by means of a mobile platform of the eighteenth century, called "Nivola" because it is decorated with clouds and angels, and exposed in the Cathedral.
The marble fence that envelops the presbytery externally on the external side is divided horizontally into two architectural orders. In the lower one there the accesses and the windows that illuminate the underlying crypt. In the upper one the life of the Virgin Mary is narrated through seventeen large marble highlyreliefs separated by statues of angels and through further small highreliefs with Marian symbols. It is the most important cycle of the Lombardy latemannerist sculpture.
This part of the cathedral was conceived by Galeazzo Alessi, defined by Pellegrino Tibaldi and made by Francesco Maria Richini.
It consists of various parts:
- Winter choir: it is an underground circular chapel. The altar is located in the center, surrounded by a round presbytery delimited by eight marble columns connected by a baroque balustrade in polychrome marble. More than half of the side walls is occupied by the chorus stalls. The vault is characterized by a rich stucco decoration designed by Pellegrino Tibaldi.
- Chapel of San Carlo: rectangular compartment located at a lower level than the winter choir and connected with it by a staircase. Going it all the way you reach the
- Scurolo: small octagonal compartment containing the remains of San Carlo. The vault is decorated with a large silver frame of the end of the seventeenth century in which eight episodes of the life of the saint are depicted. On the walls a sumptuous upholstery in red brocade and gold. On the bottom, above an altar, there is a crystal and silver urn donated by Philip IV in which the remains of the saint are kept.
- Treasure: in a room next to the scurolo the most significant pieces of the Treasury of the Cathedral are exposed to the public.
From the beginning, numerous stairs were inserted in the projects of the Milan Cathedral to reach its roof, the latter made divided into easily pedonable terraces. This shows that the architects had already originally thought of making the roof of the cathedral visited, so as to allow everyone to enjoy the views and the unique panoramas it offers.
Among the numerous spiers of various dimension that decorate the roof of the Duomo, the most important are:
- Carelli Spier: It is the oldest spire (it was built in 1400) and is located at the northern end of the apse. It is dedicated to the merchant Marco Carelli, who died in 1394 and left a rich legacy to the Cathedral factory. It is decorated with numerous statues of angels and prophets (actually copies, with the originals exhibited in the Museum of the Cathedral). The statue at the top, a work of Giorgio Solari and built in 1404, represents St. George, but if according to tradition, the author portrayed Gian Galeazzo Visconti.
- Spier at the southern end of the apse: It is the homologous of the previous one on the other side. It was the second spire to be built and dates back to the sixteenth century.
- Spiers of the crossing: They are the fou spiers placed immediately around the tiburium. They are higher and more massive than the others and are richly decorated with statues. In each there is a helical staircase leading from the lower terrace of the tiburium to the higher one.
° Spier of the Amodeo: It is the first that was built (1507-1518) and is located on the north-east corner of the tiburium. Its architectural structure is still Gothic, its decorative apparatus is instead Renaissance. It is connected to the tiburium through a kind of bridge that leads to the accessible space between the two vaults of the tiburium.
° Spier of Southwest: it is the highest of the four, it was built in 1843 on a project by the architect Pietro Pestagalli and is dedicated to the witnesses of the faith. It is decorated with statues depicting less known saints.
° Spier of North-West: it too is from the nineteenth-century. It is due to the architects Giuseppe Vandoni and Paolo Cesa Bianchi. It is dedicated to the Rosary and Marian litanies.
° Spier of South-East: made by Cesa Bianchi in the years 1887-1870. It is dedicated to Hope and the statues describe the genealogy of the Virgin.

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Categories: Churches / Religious buildings

Piazza del Duomo, 20122 Milano (MI), Italia
Further pictures of the Cathedral in the section Photography
Milano: Duomo square set up for Christmas 2022
Milano: The Cathedral seen from the Martini Terrace
Milano: The Cathedral and its square seen from the Martini Terrace
Milano: Bottom of the central nave of the Cathedral
Milano: Statue of skinned St. Bartholomew in the Cathedral
Milano: Altar of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary at the Temple in the Cathedral
Milano: Central nave of the Cathedral
Milano: Altar of the Crucifix of San Carlo in the Cathedral
Milano: Senatorial choir and organs of the Cathedral
Milano: Left organ of the Cathedral
Milano: Duomo, tower of the Cova Castle and main bell tower of the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio
Milano: Flowering magnolia with illuminated window of the Duomo in the background
Milano: One of the two magnolias behind the Duomo with the Rinascente in the background
Milano: Christmas market beside the Duomo
Milano: Duomo square at darkening
Milano: Art nouveau interiors of the Camparino Bar in Duomo Square
Milano: The rear central window of the Duomo
Milano: Bagpipers in the churchyard of the Duomo of Milan
Milano: The white magnolia behind the Duomo in bloom
Milano: The pink magnolia behind the Duomo in bloom
Milano: Facade of the Duomo by night
Milano: The Duomo seen from San Raffaele street
Milano: Duomo pinnacles with moon
Milano: Detail of the Duomo at darkening
Milano: The Duomo after sunset
Milano: The spires of the Duomo
Milano: On the roof of the Duomo
Milano: Sight from the roof of the Duomo
Milano: Torre Velasca from the roof of the Duomo
Milano: View over the city from the roof of the Duomo
Milano: Pinnacles on the roof of the Duomo
Milano: The Arengario palace seen from the roof of the Duomo
Milano: Sight from the top of the Duomo
Milano: The Duomo with dark clouds behind and illuminated by the sunset sun
Milano: Detail of the Duomo
Milano: Two windows of the facade of the Duomo
Milano: Two pinnacles of the Duomo at dusk with the moon in the background
Milano: Window of the Milan Cathedral