The Duomo Cathedral is a symbol of Milan. Its construction began in the 14th century and lasted several centuries. As a result, the cathedral became a bright example of the Flamboyant style of Gothic architecture, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Italy.
Since ancient times, the place where the cathedral is located was the center of a settlement of the Insubres. In 222 B.C. it was conquered by the ancient Romans who renamed it Mediolanum. Under the ancient Romans, the temple of Minerva was built on the site of a Celtic temple, and then a small church of St. Thecla was erected. Its ruins was preserved at the foundation of the Duomo Cathedral, as it was there that the bishop of Milan St. Ambrose baptized St. Augustine Aurelius in 387. Later, St. Augustine Aurelius became an outstanding theologian, one of the fathers of the Christian church.
The Duomo Cathedral was laid down in 1386 by Antonio de` Saluzzi, who served as Archbishop of Milan. However, to assert the power captured as a result of a coup, the then ruler of Milan Gian Galeazzo Visconti took the most active part in the construction of the Duomo Cathedral. He exempted the development and delivery of marble from Condolier quarry in Piedmont. This made it possible to line the entire facade of the cathedral with beautiful pink and white marble slabs.
The Duomo Cathedral is decorated with 3400 sculptures, there is nothing like this nowhere in the world. Some of the sculptures depict demons. The number of spires towering above the cathedral is also striking – there are 135 of them. The main spire of the cathedral with a gilded sculpture of the Madonna rises to the height of 104 meters. It was built in 1769. After that a law was passed in Milan prohibiting the construction of buildings higher than this spire. The stained glass windows of the cathedral were created for several centuries, and the oldest of them are now more than 500 years old.
The Duomo Cathedral in Milan is one of the largest temples in the world by capacity – it can accommodate up to 40 thousand people. It is only smaller than St. Peter`s Basilica in Rome (Vatican), Seville Cathedral and St. Paul`s Cathedral in London.
A Christian halidom is stored above the altar of the cathedral – a nail from the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is kept under an arched vault and once a year the archbishop rises to a height of 45 meters on a platform shaped like a cloud (this mechanism was invented by Leonardo da Vinci) to take the halidom from the crystal ark and consecrate the temple with it. This ritual is known as Nivola and takes place once a year – on September 14. The red light of the icon lamp indicates the usual location of the ark with a nail.
The Royal Palace, the former residence of the rulers of the city, is to the right on the front side of the Duomo Cathedral. Now it houses the collections of the museum of the Duomo Cathedral: paintings, fragments of stained-glass windows, tapestries, sculptures and other church valuables. When visiting the cathedral, you should pay attention to the mausoleum of Gian Giacomo Medici by Leon Leoni. Near the altar you can see the sculpture of St. Bartholomew. He is depicted without skin, every muscle is visible, and the skin is thrown over his shoulders. You should also go up to the terrace to take a walk on the roof of the cathedral and see the spires and sculptures of the cathedral.