The first time I saw the Duomo of Milan, it was a cold, drizzly January night. We came up out of the metro and by luck, happened to come up into the Piazza directly facing this glorious Cathedral.
It took my breath away.
We entered the Duomo, instantaneously enveloped by the heavy scent of incense, hushed tones of churchgoers, tourists, and flickering candles- framed by the massive columns and soaring ceiling.
And just like that, I was in love with Milan and there was no turning back.
The Duomo of Milan is a stunning Gothic masterpiece and the 5th largest cathedral in the world. The Cathedral, dedicated to St. Mary of the Nativity (Santa Maria Nascente) took nearly 6 centuries to complete, some say it’s still not completed since the restoration is an ongoing project.
The details here are amazing- it has 3400 statues & 135 gargoyles! I’m pretty sure if you tried to start counting you’d never get there…
I dare say this is the most photographed place in all of Milan. Despite the crowds, I still never tire of walking past it or taking a moment inside. And I cannot ever walk by without snapping more photos, even though we have hundreds at this point!
INSIDER TIP | Look high above the apse (in the far front of this photo) and look for the little red light. The light marks the location of a small shrine which holds a holy relic, a nail from the crucifixion. This relic was given to the Emperor Constantine by his mother, and preserved by Saint Ambrose, the archbishop of Milan and moved to the Duomo when it was built. Every September 14, an ornately painted lift called a “Nivola” is hoisted up in the air to retrieve the relic for a special ceremony called the “Rito della Nivola” in the Cathedral. The relic is kept down by the alter for approximately 2 weeks.
INSIDER TIP | Don’t miss the sculpture of Saint Bartholomew in the south transept of the Cathedral. Sculpted by Marco d’Agrate in 1562, it shows the martyred saint with his own skin draped over his shoulders. Many believe he was skinned alive. The sculpture is fascinating, showing every muscle and tendon- quite the masterpiece in its own right.
INSIDER TIP | For an incredible close up look at the architecture of the cathedral, and surrounding views of Milan- take the steps (or the elevator) to the top. It’s an amazing view, and someplace we love to take guests when they are visiting. (tickets required for both options)
Location | Piazza del Duomo, Milano
Red Line (M1) or Yellow Line (M3) to the Duomo Stop
- Piazza Fontana stop, trams 15 + 23
- Via Mazzini stop, trams 16, 24, 12 + 27
- Via Torino stop, trams 2 + 3
Cathedral Hours (double check here)
Daily 9.00 -19.00
Cost (Current Prices here)
- Cathedral- € 3,00
Ticket includes admission to the Cathedral, Duomo Museum and San Gottardo in Corte Church
- Roof Terraces- Tickets must be purchased to go onto the roof terraces (€ 9,00 on foot, €13,00 for elevator at the time of this post )
Duomo Museum (included in Cathedral admission)
- Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 18.00
- Last ticket: at 17.00 (5pm)
- As with any church in Italy, be prepared with proper clothing. Bare shoulders and short skirts or shorts are not allowed.
- Rooftop times are noted on the website and are different than Cathedral hours.
- You may be stopped at the entrance by men in uniform to have your bag screened. Don’t worry, this is part of the normal process.
- You can now download the Duomo di Milano app for your phone or tablet which includes details art & history information.
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