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Inside Milan Cathedral – what to expect on your visit

Milan Cathedral, also known as Duomo Di Milano, is located in the Lombardy region of Milan, Italy, and is dedicated to Saint Mary’s nativity. 

Building this cathedral took almost 600 years – it started in 1386, and the final details were included in 1965.

Milan Cathedral is the largest church in Italy and one of the largest in the world.

This article shares everything you must know before booking your tickets to Milan Cathedral’s interiors.

Best Milan Cathedral tickets Cost
Duomo di Milano rooftop tickets €17
Duomo di Milano, Rooftops & Museum €20
Fast Track: Duomo di Milano, Rooftops & Museum €35
Duomo di Milano & Duomo Museum €11
Guided tour: Duomo, Rooftops & Archaeological Area €35
Best of Milan tickets
(Duomo, The Last Supper & Teatro alla Scala)
€99

What to see inside Milan Cathedral

Every year, around six million tourists and believers step inside Duomo di Milano and stand in awe, looking at one of the finest Gothic churches ever built.

Once inside, the tourists can either spend time in reflection or walk around exploring the things to see and the experiences to enjoy.

The Altar

The High Altar of the Milan Cathedral is an impressive architectural and artistic feature.

It is positioned in the apse, the semi-circular recess at the eastern end of the cathedral, traditionally the altar’s location in Christian churches.

Don’t miss out on the part of the apse behind the high altar, which is richly decorated with sculptures and reliefs, including a portrayal of the Last Supper.

Crypt of St. Charles

Beneath the Milan Cathedral’s high altar is Saint Charles Borromeo’s crypt.

St. Charles Borromeo was the Archbishop of Milan from 1564 to 1584, and he was canonized in 1610.

His body lies in a glass coffin, and the surrounding area features frescoes and reliefs depicting his life and works.

Stained glass windows

There are fifty-five stained glass windows at the Milan Cathedral, and three of the biggest ones are towards the back. 

The stained glass and tinted windows filter the light and make the interiors even more beautiful.

Rich stained glass windows line each side of the aisle; some are genuine, but the majority have been replaced with copies of the originals. 

Each stained glass piece has a unique history connected to its period and the artist who created it. 

Rooftop of Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral Ticket Prices
Image: Theflorenceinsider.com

Tourists can’t visit the Duomo and not go up its rooftop terrace.

The cathedral’s roof is notable for its forest of openwork spires and pinnacles, supported by delicate flying buttresses.

You can also take in breathtaking views of the square and the entire city from the rooftop and a close-up glimpse of some magnificent sculptures.

Access to the Milan Cathedral rooftop is not included in all tickets. So pick your tickets carefully.

Recommended Reading: Facts about Milan Cathedral

Duomo Museum

Several original art pieces produced for Florence’s Cathedral can be found in the Duomo Museum.

The museum opened its doors in 1891 and is regarded as one of the most significant sculpture collections in the world.

The Gates of Paradise doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti for the Florence Cathedral’s Baptistery, the cantorial, or singing galleries, created by Luca della Robbia for the cathedral, and Donatello’s Penitent Magdalene are among the museum’s collections.

The Deposition, a pietà that Michelangelo intended for his tomb, is also part of the collection.

Saint Bartholomew Flayed statue

Saint Bartholomew being flayed is a statue by Marco d’Agrate from the second half of the 16th century.

Bartholomew was a fisherman, and one of Christ’s apostles sent out to spread his message.

However, the king’s outraged brother is said to have skinned St. Bartholomew alive and executed him out of political fear.

Madonnina

Madonnina is a statue of Lady Mary on top of Milan Cathedral.

It is 4.16 meters (14 feet) tall and is supposed to guard the city of Milan.

Francesco Croce’s design for the Madonnina spire, one of the cathedral’s most prominent elements, was built in 1762 and stood at 108.5 meters (356 feet).

Carlo Pellicani created and constructed the multi-colored Madonnina statue in 1774 and placed it on the tower.

The Church of St. Gottardo

The Church of St. Gottardo is a small and humble place of worship built in the 14th century.

It can be accessed only as a part of a visit to the Duomo Museum, and it is included in the ticket.

An inscription on the walls states that Azzone Visconti began constructing it as the Ducal Chapel in 1330 and completed it in 1336. 

Duomo Archaeological Complex

Located under the front steps of the Duomo, the archaeological area consists of the remains of the Baptistry of Saint John and the Basilica of Santa Tecla.

The baptistry was built around 387 and demolished in 1394. The basilica was established in 350 and demolished in 1458.

The entrance to the archaeological area is inside the Duomo, and not all tickets include access to this part of the Cathedral.

To understand the archaeological area, booking a guided tour of the Duomo is better.

Piazza del Duomo

Milan central square is called Piazza del Duomo, or Cathedral Square, and it is named after the Milan Cathedral.

The piazza designates the city’s geographic center and its cultural, artistic, and social significance.

Rectangular in shape and covering a total area of about 183,000 sq ft, the piazza is the city’s most popular tourist destination.

It is home to some of Milan’s (and Italy’s) most significant buildings and prestigious commercial enterprises.

From Monday to Thursday, the rooftop area is open from 9 am to 7 pm; from Friday to Sunday, it is available from 9 am to 8 pm.

Architecture and Design

Visitors can visit the Milan Cathedral and see the beautiful architecture beneath it and the rooftop terraces, also famous for their Gothic design.

You can find the ideal harmony of the stained-glass windows, columns, and naves in this incredibly complex building. 

The structure consists of a nave with four side aisles, a transept, a choir, and an apse; the center is roughly 45 meters (148 feet) high.

The hierarchical apertures of the façade represent the five broad naves of the cathedral, which are split by 40 pillars, and the aisles can be seen in the transepts.

The apsidal windows measure 20.7 by 8.5 meters (68 by 28 feet), and the nave columns are 24.5 meters (80 feet) high.

The massive structure is made of brick and has marble from the quarries Gian Galeazzo Visconti gave to the cathedral chapter as a perpetual gift, though its upkeep and repairs are quite difficult.

The Milan Duomo is decorated with 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles, and 700 figures, and created a new LED-based lighting system in 2015.

Milan Cathedral’s interiors are a must-see for anyone visiting Milan.

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This article was researched & written by

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Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

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