A visit to the Duomo of Milan

In the heart of the most famous fashion city of Italy, on the Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral of Milan is to be seen. It's one of the largest cathedrals in the world and it has left an unforgettable impression on me. Wherever you are in the city, this giant always attracts your attention. You haven't really visited this city without a visit to the imposing Duomo of Milan.

 

visit milan cathedral

Visiting the cathedral of Milan

To visit the Duomo of Milan, you need to have tickets. Avoid waiting in line for hours and buy your tickets online and in advance (at the same price!).
The best option is to invest in a Duomo Pass (€14). With this ticket, you can check out all sights inside and outside the cathedral and also climb the panoramic terrace from where you get stunning views over Milano.

If the interior of the Duomo doesn’t attract you much, then you can also opt to just buy a ticket to climb the terrace. Such a ticket costs €10 per person.
Would you like a bit more history and facts? Book a guided tour for about €30 per person.

A bit of history of this cathedral

The mastermind behind this beautiful Gothic work of art is Bishop Antonio da Saluzzo. In 1386 he commissioned the construction of the Duomo of Milan. In the first years, the construction was led by German, French and Italian architects: a real European co-production! That quickly led to a lot of delay, because they all had a different vision. It was only in 1400 that the construction really started, but then it took another 600 years before the cathedral was completely finished.

The building of the cathedral of Milan happened in bits and pieces and sometimes the works halted for over a century! Fortunately, in 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte became involved in the whole building process and made sure that the façade was completed in 7 years. But Napoleon wouldn’t be Napoleon if he had no hidden agenda… In fact he wanted to be crowned king in this majestic cathedral and eventually, his dream came true.
To this day, the Milanese are still grateful for his generous gesture, because he has even been given a statue on the square in front of the Cathedral and he was sculpted on top of one of the 135 towers as well.

inside duomo milan

The exterior is impressive, but the inside of the Duomo is also awesome!

Great architecture and impressive art

Once you have bought your entrance ticket, you can finally enter.
A visit to the Duomo of Milan is imposing. You might already be in awe when you’re just standing in front of the church. It’s especially the impressive architecture that makes the cathedral a special sight in Milan. But not only the outside is pretty perfect, the inside will also blow your mind. So… Why not visit the Duomo of Milan from the inside as well?

In total, the Duomo has around 3,000 statues located in and out of the building. The cathedral is divided into five large subdivisions, separated by 52 pillars of no less than 25 meters (82 ft) high. Those pillars aren’t only colossal and imposing, but also serve as a supporting beam for the heavy roof.

In addition to the beautiful architecture, the cathedral is full of impressive works of art. The stained-glass windows are depicting biblical scenes and are quite magical to look at. The oldest window is from 1470 and symbolizes the life of Christ. The stained-glass windows in the back of the church provide a beautiful illumination of the apse. In addition, you can also see many beautiful sculptures and paintings and you’ll also find the largest organ in Italy in this church.
The three altars designed by the Italian painter and architect Pellegrino Tibaldi are true works of art in themselves.

Finally, you can also visit the archaeological site under the church where they’re still working on excavations. To visit this part of the cathedral, you must have a Duomo Pass or you will need to buy extra tickets.

visit duomo of milan

How they could ever make this cathedral without the help of modern tools… I still don’t get it!

Treasures and crypts

When you visit the Duomo of Milan, be sure to take a look at the crypt as well. Here you’ll find the grave monuments of Gian Giacomo de’ Medici (brother of Pope Pius IV) and the Italian cardinal Carlo Borromeo. In the crypt, you’ll also find the treasury. However, this room is not accessible to the public.
To enter the crypt, you’ll need to have a Duomo Pass.

coro jermale crypt milan cathedral

The Coro Jemale, part of the crypt.

Santo Chiodo: the holy nail

A nail that comes from the cross to which Jesus was crucified is also kept in the cathedral. It’s kept in the vault above the choir and is indicated by a small red light. Emperor Constantine had given this nail to the holy Ambrogio. If you want to see the nail for yourself, you must be present during the celebration of the Rito della Nivola on September 14th. During this annual celebration, the Bishop of Milan, uses the Nivola (elevator in the form of a cloud) to go up to the location where the Santo Chiodo is located. This has been happening since 1576!
If you want to see more sacred relics, then you should definitely visit the Nôtre-Dame in Paris. There you’ll find the crown of thorns of Jesus, another nail, and a piece of the cross that Jesus was hanged on.

The rooftop of the Duomo of Milan

The architecture and works of art make a visit to the Cathedral of Milan worthwhile, but a trip to the roof will make your visit truly unforgettable. If you don’t really look forward to climb the stairs, I’ve got good news for you! There’s also an elevator which you can use.
If you didn’t buy a Duomo Pass (€14), then you’ll need a separate ticket to visit the rooftop (€10).
At the rooftop of the Duomo of Milan you’ll find many beautiful turrets. The oldest dates back from 1404 and on the highest one, you might even see the golden statue of Mary. That little sculpture is called La Madonnina, the little Madonna, and is the symbol of Milan. The sculpture is 14 meters (46 ft) tall!
But the most impressive is the view over Milan. When the weather is nice, you can even see the Alps!

duomo milan rooftop

From the rooftop of the Duomo in Milan you get beautiful views and you can see the detailed artwork on the roof even better.

Opening hours of the Cathedral of Milan

You can visit the cathedral with a valid ticket every day between 8 am and 7 pm. The last visitors are admitted at 6.10 pm. Other opening hours apply for the crypt, the museum, the archaeological site and the rooftop:

  • You can visit the crypt between 11 am and 5.30 pm from Monday to Friday. On Saturdays between 11 am and 5 pm and on Sundays from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm. The last visitors may enter half an hour before closure.
  • The museum can be visited every day from 10 am to 6 pm, but is closed on Wednesday. The last visitors are admitted at 5:10 pm.
  • The archaeological site is also open every day from 9 am to 7 pm. The last tickets are sold at 6 pm and ten minutes later the last visitors are allowed in.
  • You can also visit the rooftop of the Duomo of Milan every day from 9 am to 7 pm. The last visitors may enter at 6.10 pm.
rooftop visit duomo milan

The view from the rooftop of the Cathedral is really phenomenal… I really recommend going up there!

Duomo of Milan tickets

The cathedral of Milan is the most visited attraction of the city. It’s therefore best to buy your tickets online via official tour and ticket providers such as GetYourGuide, Viator and Tiqets. If you don’t buy them in advance, you might have to wait because of long queues.

Prices can range from €3.50 to €16.50 for adults and from €3.50 to €8.50 for children. It’s highly recommended to buy a Duomo Pass (€14) to get access to every part of the cathedral. On top of that, you also get an interesting guided tour on top.

 

Extra tips for your visit to the Duomo of Milan

  • Mornings are the least busy moments to plan a visit.
  • Don’t use a flash when taking pictures.
  • Selfiesticks are forbidden
  • The visit to the rooftop is really worth it in good weather, so check the weather forecast before you book your tickets!
  • Italians are very strict: bare shoulders and short skirts are a no go when visiting the cathedral of Milan.
duomo milan

Say so for yourself… Doesn’t this look like an architectural masterpiece?

10 fun facts about the Cathedral of Milan

  1. It took no less than 600 years before the cathedral was finished.
  2. The Duomo is the second largest cathedral in the world. It has a length of 157 meters (515 ft) and a width of 92 meters (302 ft). The total surface of the church is about 11,700 m² (38.385 square feet).
  3. The Cathedral has a total of 3,159 statues on the inside and outside and together they weigh about 325,000 tons!
  4. 135 Towers are on the roof. On the highest tower you’ll find the statue of Mary which is a whopping 14 meters (46 ft) and is covered with 3,900 pieces of gold leaf.
  5. On May 26, 1805 Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned king of Italy in the cathedral.
  6. The cathedral is built entirely of white marble.
  7. In 2010 the Italian baker, Mirco Della Vecchia, made a replica of the Cathedral from 4,868 kilos of chocolate. He worked on this with 8 employees for a week. The piece is the heaviest chocolate sculpture in the world!
  8. The cathedral has 55 stained-glass windows with biblical stories.
  9. 96 Gargoyles adorn the Cathedral of Milan.
  10. Every year about 5 million people visit the heart of Milan!

Have I convinced you to visit the Duomo of Milan? Good! But there’s a lot more to see. Mae sure to put the Castelo Sforzesco, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the Teatro alla Scala on your bucket list as well! Have fun in Milano!

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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