Milan Cathedral

This spectacular Gothic cathedral, took 600 years to build. With Napolean finishing the facade in 1805.

TravelCurious Tip

On the Saturday closest to September 14, you can witness the display of the Holy Nail, one of the nails during Christ’s Crucifixion

The Milan Cathedral has been the heart of Milan and the seat of its Archbishop for centuries. The streets of Milan either radiate out from the cathedral or circle it, emphasising its star-like centrality in the city. A basilica was built on this site by Saint Ambrose in the 5th century, but construction of today’s cathedral only began in the 14th century after fires razed the previous buildings.

Built in a Gothic style more characteristic of France than Italy, it took 600 years to finish the cathedral. Even now there are some stone blocks yet to be carved, but the cathedral’s exterior still totes 2245 statues, 96 gargoyles and 135 spires. The cathedral recently underwent major renovations, completed in 2009, so it’s the perfect time to see it in all its glory.

Milan’s cathedral is the largest church in Italy, and the 5th largest in the world. At 157 metres long it can fit a staggering 40,000 people within it — many stadiums would envy such an audience. The facade onto the Piazza del Duomo, with its five bronze gates to welcome the crowd in, is the cathedral’s most distinctive: colossal, imposing, and almost flamboyantly gothic.

Queen of the Castle

The cathedral has a whole host of statues, but standing highest among them is the Madonnina, a copper statue of the virgin Mary that is covered in 3900 pieces of gold leaf. Placed on the highest spire of the cathedral at 108.5 metres, Madonnina marked the highest point in the city for almost two centuries, until 1959. Now outgrown, but never out-dazzled: under the sun, she is resplendent.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Milan
The Theatre la Scala
An iconic theatre built in 1778 which has consistently held the most famous opera and ballet performances.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
One of the world's oldest shopping malls, this vast emporium is known locally as "Milan's drawing room".
Piazza Mercanti
"Merchants square" is former epicentre of the city where swords, hats and suits of armour were once sold.
Quadrilatero d'oro
The local name for the four streets that contain the world's most famous up-market shopping district.
Museo Poldi Pezzoli
Founded by Gian Poldi Pezzoli this art museum holds a wide variety of Italian and Northern European work.
Museo Bagatti Valsecchi
Originally the Bagatti brother's house, it contains Renaissance furnishings, tapestries and art works.

Related Tours

Full Day Highlights of Milan with Da Vinci’s The Last Supper
In this six hour walking tour, your expert local guide will direct you to some of the most important historical and cultural sites of this magnificent city. 

Milan is a vast, modern city which plays an important role as an Italian economic and industrial hub. However behind this industrious veneer lies a city steeped in history, culture and fashion. Milan is home to stunning frescos and art including that of the great Leonardo Da Vinci. 

Note: this tour must be booked one month in advance for the last supper to be included.

  • Commence at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
  • Snap pictures of Da Vinci's iconic The Last Supper
  • Walk through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the world's oldest shopping mall
  • Enjoy your time at Piazza Duomo, where the Gothic cathedral stands
  • Stroll through Piazza Mercanti, where suits of armour were once sold
  • Explore the artwork of  Sforza Castle
  • Learn about neoclassical artwork inside Brera Palace
  • Stand in awe of  the San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, a royal chapel
The Last Supper

Your guide will take you to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a Dominican convent and world heritage site which contains world-famous mural of Da Vinci's The Last Supper. This iconic mural depicts the moment Jesus realises that he will be betrayed by one of his disciples. This tour includes skip the line tickets. 

The Heart of Milan

You the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest shopping malls. A vast emporium known locally as "Milan's drawing room". Get to the heart of Milan’s fashion at the Quadrilatero d'oro, the world's most famous upmarket shopping district. Walk through the Piazza Duomo, "Cathedral Square" which is regarded as the heart of Milan to the spectacular Gothic cathedral itself, which took 600 years to build.

Your guide will take you to the Piazza Mercanti or "Merchants Square" where swords, hats and suits of armour were once sold. Explore Sforza Castle, which holds some of Milan's most important artistic work. You will visit the Brera Palace a neoclassical construct containing the Pinacoteca di Brera, an art gallery showcasing Milan's most famous work. Visit the San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore; a royal chapel built in the 16th Century, with stunning frescos that often go missed by Milan's tourists.


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