In Milan, most main streets lead straight to the enormous cathedral and the ones that don’t, encircle it. Such a layout is a tip-off to the important role the Duomo has always held.
This is Europe’s third largest cathedral (St. Peter’s and the cathedral in Seville are bigger). Work began in the 14th century but was not completed until the 19th. The result? A jumble of styles including a Gothic apse, baroque and neoclassical details and neo-Gothic façade.
In the 5th century, Basilicas Santa Tecla and Santa Maria Maggiore were stood here. A fire damaged most of that structure, and the replacement is what we see today. The original baptistery was absorbed into the new structure and can still be visited by heading underground.
The Duomo has an overwhelming 135 spires, 3,200 statues, five naves, 52 pillars and 146 stained-glass windows. A golden Madonna tops the highest spire.
The interior is a massive and packed. It’s grand, but dark (even dimmer than most cavernous cathedrals). 40,000 people fit inside, which was Milan’s population in the 14th century.
In the crypt, San Carlo Borromeo’s remains lie in a glass casket.
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