Il Duomo - The Cathedral
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente is the heart of Milanese spirituality and boasts over four million visitors a year. It stands in the very central square by the same name, a hub for most of Milan's tourist attractions and generally considered a starting point for touring the city.
The Cathedral is an invaluable example of Lombard Gothic architecture, though its construction stretched over five centuries and we can distinguish six sequential building phases: the Visconti period (1387-1447); the Sforza period (1450-1520); the Borromeo period (1560-1650); the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (1650-1800); the nineteenth century (1800-1900); and the twentieth century (1900-present).
Such a long period of time also explains the large number of statues in both the interior and exterior, with a the unusual presence of lay figures (Dante Alighieri, Arturo Toscanini, Vittorio Emanuele II, and even the boxer Primo Carnera) alongside prophets and martyrs from the Old and New Testament.
The 135 spires decorating the Cathedral's exterior along with the Relic of the Holy Nail are two of the most fascinating elements of the Milan Cathedral, which among Italian cathedrals is second in size only to St Peter's in the Vatican. During your visit, you won't want to miss a climb to the roof and a tour of the underground rooms with the archaeological remains of the original Basilica of Santa Tecla, on the foundations of which Gian Galeazzo Visconti ordered the new temple built.