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The Cathedral is by far the most important, famous, and well-known church in Milan!


The monument before you, this marble colossus, this white mountain full of sharp points called "spires", has a style all its own that is unmatched in Europe, although for convenience it can be considered a Gothic church. The Cathedral is the symbol of Milan, and usually a tour of the city starts here.


It can hold over 30,000 people, and is the largest Christian church in the world after St. Peter's in Rome. It also tops all the others for its number of statues: in fact, there are more than 3,000 total statues inside and outside! The famous "Madonnina" shines atop the Cathedral: it is a great eighteenth-century gilded bronze statue placed 109 meters above ground, on top of the tallest spire.


Get ready to wait on a long line to get in, also because of the security checks. The ticket office is to the right of the façade: you can choose to visit only the church, or to buy a ticket for the nearby Cathedral Museum as well. In the museum you can admire beautiful medieval jewelry and above all the Cathedral's original statues and stained-glass windows which have all been replaced for their conservation.


The Cathedral's construction began in the late fifteenth century at the behest of the Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti. Before the Cathedral was built here, there were two ancient churches and a baptistery that had been founded in the fourth century AD by the patron saint of Milan, Saint Ambrose. These monuments were taken down as the new church grew in size. You can visit their foundations in the churchyard, at the level of the metro station.


You should know that Gian Galeazzo Visconti wanted to build a giant cathedral that was unique in the world for its construction material: the beautiful marble veined with gray and pink coming from the Candoglia quarries near Lake Maggiore. This marble was used exclusively for the Factory of the Cathedral in Milan.


FUN FACT: in order to transport the marble blocks, a convenient route was studied by boat that departed from Lake Maggiore and traveled the Ticino River to reach Milan at a point called Laghetto, or pond, which was just a hundred meters away from the site.


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