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Duomo di Milano History

Built over six centuries ago, the Duomo has witnessed the ebb and flow of Milan’s rich history. 

From its humble beginnings in the 14th century to becoming a symbol of resilience during wars and Italy’s unification in 1861, the history of Duomo di Milano is long.

Let’s explore the architectural evolution and the enduring relevance of this iconic landmark in Milan.

Read ahead to learn about the fascinating Duomo di Milano history- when it began and where it is now.

Inspiration for the Duomo di Milano

In the late 14th century, Milan was ruled by the Visconti family. 

Gian Galeazzo Visconti, a very ambitious and wealthy leader, wanted to make Milan as impressive as Rome. 

He dreamed of a grand cathedral, surpassing others in size and beauty.

Legend says that Gian Galeazzo had a dream of a magnificent cathedral in sunlight with tall spires reaching the sky. 

Inspired by this dream, he was determined to turn it into reality. 

And so, in 1386, the first stone of the Duomo was laid with a big pomp and ceremony. 

This marked the beginning of the cathedral’s construction, later becoming a symbol of Milan’s pride and architectural marvel.

14th to 15th Century

Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo laid the foundation stone of the Duomo on January 17, 1386. 

The cathedral’s early foundations were marked by the vision of countless architects, including Arnolfo di Cambio, who laid the groundwork for its intricate design. 

However, the initial construction phase faced challenges such as the Black Death and financial constraints.

During the 15th century, the baton of responsibility passed to renowned architects and artists like Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti. 

Their contributions shaped the early stages of the Duomo, establishing the fundamental architectural elements that would define its grandeur in the centuries to come.

This period laid the groundwork for the cathedral’s rise as an enduring symbol of Milan.

16th to 18th Century

During the 16th to 18th centuries, the Duomo di Milano underwent significant architectural evolution.

Elegant features were added to the cathedral by various architects, like Pellegrino Tibaldi and Francesco Maria Richini, transforming its Gothic design. 

Notably, the iconic Madonnina spire, adorned with a golden statue of the Virgin Mary, was added in 1762, becoming a symbol of Milan. 

The Duomo’s façade received attention, with intricate detailing and sculptures enhancing its grandeur. 

The architectural evolution of the Duomo during this time proved to be a mix of both Renaissance and Baroque periods. 

19th Century To Present

In the 1800s, the Duomo di Milano underwent important events that shaped its fate. 

It became a symbol of strength during wars and political changes. When Italy united in 1861, the Duomo became a symbol of the country. 

People worked on fixing and improving it in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

During World War II, bombings damaged the Duomo, but it mostly survived. 

After the war, people fixed the damage and found hidden treasures in the cathedral. 

The Duomo kept being important in Milan, hosting events and ceremonies. It stayed a crucial part of Milan’s life, showing its lasting importance as a cultural and religious site. 

The Duomo di Milano is a strong symbol of Milan’s history, connecting its past and present.

For all visitors planning to visit Duomo di Milano, here are some essential information to plan your trip:

FAQs About Duomo di Milano History

1. What is the history of the Duomo in Milan?

The Duomo di Milano, initiated in 1386, endured centuries of construction, becoming Italy’s largest cathedral. 

Its Gothic design evolved, witnessing historical events like Italy’s unification in 1861. 

Despite damage during World War II, restoration efforts preserved its grandeur.

The Duomo remains a symbol of Milan’s enduring history and cultural significance.

2. How old is the Duomo?

The construction of the Duomo di Milano began in 1386 and continued for nearly six centuries, with the final major spire completed in 1762. 

3. Who is the gold statue in Duomo Milan?

The gold statue atop the Duomo di Milano is the Madonnina. She was Installed in 1774, stands at 4.16 meters and represents the Virgin Mary.

4. How many pillars are in the Duomo?

The Duomo di Milano has a total of 52 pillars that support the cathedral’s structure. 

Each pillar plays a crucial role in supporting the weight of the magnificent structure.

5. When was Duomo built?

Construction of the Duomo di Milano began in 1386 under Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo. 

Over the course of nearly six centuries, the cathedral evolved, with the final major spire completed in 1762. 

As of 2023, the Duomo stands as an architectural masterpiece with a rich history spanning over 600 years.

6. How long did it take to build Duomo di Milano?

The construction of the Duomo di Milano spanned nearly six centuries. 

Initiated in 1386, the cathedral’s complex and intricate design evolved and the final major spire was completed in 1762. 

7. Who designed the Duomo?

The original architect of the Duomo di Milano has yet to be definitively known, but the initial design is attributed to a number of architects, including Arnolfo di Cambio. 

8. Where was Duomo di Milano built?

The Duomo di Milano was built in the heart of Milan, Italy. 

Its construction began in 1386 and the cathedral is located in the city center, near the historic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the Piazza del Duomo. 

The Duomo’s central location makes it a prominent landmark in Milan’s urban landscape.

9. Why was the Duomo hard to build?

The sheer scale and complexity of the Gothic design, changes in architectural styles over the centuries, financial constraints and interruptions caused by wars all contributed to the difficulty!

10. Why is the Duomo in Milan famous?

The Duomo di Milano is famous for its Gothic architecture and the 3,400 statues and intricate sculptures it houses. 

As Italy’s largest cathedral, it symbolizes Milan’s rich history and cultural heritage. 

The iconic Madonnina gold statue crowning the cathedral adds to its fame and panoramic views from its rooftop attract millions of visitors.


The Best Duomo di Milano Tickets

Cathedral and Rooftop tickets: This ticket offers access to the Milan Cathedral and the Cathedral Rooftop area. 

Milan Cathedral Rooftop ticket: If you wish to enjoy the vistas of Milan, then get this rooftop access ticket (without the church) to enjoy terrace entry. 

Duomo di Milano guided tour: Take a tour of Milan Cathedral, Duomo Museum and archeological sites with a local expert guide. 

Private Duomo di Milano tour: Skip the crowds and take a private tour of the Duomo di Milano, its Rooftop, Museum and Archeological sites.

Duomo Di Milano Combo tour: Visit the Milan Cathedral and another Milan attraction at a discounted price with just one ticket. 

Last-minute Duomo di Milano tickets: Get your Milan Cathedral tickets last minute if you have missed your pre-booking. This ticket offers last-minute entry to the Cathedral, Museum and rooftop. 

Milan City Pass: Get entry to Duomo di Milano, Rooftops, Duomo Museum, Leonardo Da Vinci Museum and Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, along with Milan City Audio Guide at discounted prices. 

Featured Image: Duomomilano.it

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