Art&Style Unusual

The terraces of the Milan Cathedral

The most beautiful view among gargoyles and gothic spiers

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
The terraces of the Milan Cathedral — Lombardia Secrets

Climbing the terraces of the Milan Cathedral is an experience to do at least once in a lifetime, especially in this period of the year which, considering the last access at 6.10pm, offers the priceless opportunity of seeing the sunset on a skyline with 360° view over the entire city.

Once you have taken the lift (the descent is on foot) to the top of the Cathedral, a breathtaking panorama will be revealed before you, a blue and white lace made up of over 3500 statues, 135 spiers, and as many gargoyles, as well as the famous Madonnina, the symbol of the city.

Just think that from 1774 it became customary and then law that no building in Milan could exceed it in height; regulation which changed in the 1960s as long as a replica of it was placed on the top of the tallest skyscrapers. This is why today, on the Pirellone, Palazzo Lombardia and the Isozaki Tower there is a small Madonnina.

The terraces of the Milan Cathedral — Lombardia Secrets
The terraces of the Milan Cathedral — Lombardia Secrets

All these evenings I went, around one in the morning, to see the Milan Cathedral again. This church, illuminated by a beautiful moon, offers a spectacle of extraordinary and unique beauty in the world. Architecture has never offered me similar sensations.

(Stendhal, 5 November 1816)

The history of the Cathedral is an incredible proof of faith and human ingenuity, a “construction site” that has lasted for almost 1000 years, bringing together the best minds and artists of all time.
The works for its construction began, in fact, when the Gothic style of cathedrals had already reached its maximum flowering, in 1386.

In October 1387, on the impetus of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan, the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo was born, with the aim of carrying forward the design and construction works of the Cathedral, a historic body that is still responsible for its conservation and promotion.

The terraces of the Milan Cathedral — Lombardia Secrets
The terraces of the Milan Cathedral — Lombardia Secrets

Its construction continued for centuries, until, on the initiative of Napoleon on the eve of his coronation as King of Italy, the completion of the façade was undertaken (1807-1813). The work, in particular with the creation of most of the spiers on the roofs and many stained glass windows, made with the enamel painted glass technique, continued until its completion in 1965.

Take advantage now in winter, on a clear day, to go up around 4.30pm, a time of day that offers the magical opportunity to see the fall of a thousand shades of pink on all the symbols of Milan, from City Life with its new skyscrapers to the Tower Velasca.

The terraces of the Milan Cathedral — Lombardia Secrets
The terraces of the Milan Cathedral — Lombardia Secrets

The ticket to visit the Terraces can be purchased online or at the shop located right in front of the Duomo next to Palazzo Reale, also with a skip-the-line option.

The Secret

In August 1939, on the eve of the last World War, the Madonnina was covered with a grey-green cloth and remained so for 5 years, to avoid providing an easy target for fighter-bombers. The unveiling took place on 6 May 1945 with a solemn rite by Cardinal Schuster, then Archbishop of Milan.

Useful Info

Duomo di Milano Biglietti

Ticket with lift only terraces: 15 euro

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