Milan’s “Over the Top” Duomo

Milan has one “must see” location: the Duomo Milano, the largest Gothic-era cathedral in the world. There are two larger cathedrals: St. Peter’s in the Vatican, which started construction 120 years later, and a modern-era (1980s) building in Brazil. Constructed over almost 600 years, this cathedral is impressive by any measure, and follows the “if a little is good, a lot must be great” school of design.

Begun in 1386 and finished in our lifetime (1965), the Duomo incorporates design features from every era along the way. So how is it “over the top?” Let’s start with statues. There are 3,400 of them, everywhere you look. According to some websites, the Duomo has more sculptures than any other building in the world.

Columns inside will be topped with a circle of statues standing on squares containing other statues. Spires are ringed by them and crowned with them. The outside walls are covered with them, and it is impossible to look any direction on the interior without seeing several. And this does not count the 135 gargoyles and 700 figures that are not sculpted.

But you can also experience the Duomo “over the top” in the sense that you can purchase an elevator lift ride to the top and walk along the entire roofline. Be prepared, however. This is a one-way ride. Once out of the elevator, the traffic flow goes around the roof and comes down the other side, with no elevator. So be ready to wind your way down over 900 steps to get back to ground level!