10 curiosities about the Duomo of Milan that you may not have known – Immobiliare.it News

THE Milan Cathedral it is a majestic work of Gothic art that stands out in the heart of the Lombard capital, which has always been an undisputed icon of Italian architecture and culture.

However, behind its imposing spiers and ornate facade lies secrets and curiosities which often escape the sight of visitors. So let's find out 10 curiosities you might not have known about Milan Cathedral.

Archaeological excavations under the Cathedral

To reveal the first curiosities about Milan Cathedral we must return to the times of ancient Rome, when Milan was called Mediolanum. Then, on the site occupied today by the Cathedral, there were two paleo-Christian basilicas and a baptistery: theancient basilica of Santa Maria MaggioreTHE Basilica of Santa Tecla and the Baptistery of San Giovanni alle Fonti.

The latter, a pioneering example of octagonal architecture at the beginning of the Christian era, was the site of the baptism of Saint Augustine by Saint Ambrosewhich occurred on the eve of Easter 397. The tThe walls of the Basilica of Santa Tecla and the particular octagonal shape of the baptistery still survive today in the archaeological section of the Cathedral.tangible testimonies of a glorious and spiritually significant past.

A construction spanning 6 centuries

A curiosity on the cathedral of Milan, is that its construction took an extremely long time. It is indeed no coincidence that the Milanese define “being like the Fabbrica del Duomo” as an enterprise that continues over time without ever achieving success.

Indeed, the official construction of the cathedral began a long time ago. 1386but only in the 19th century it was finally completedthanks to the tireless work of thousands of artists, sculptors and artisans from around the world.

The largest organ in Italy

Maybe not everyone knows that Milan Cathedral is home to the largest organ in Italy: placed in the main altar, this extraordinary musical instrument boasts well 15,800 pipes and 4 organ cases.

Some of these reeds reach more than 30 feet in height, while others are so small that they are only a few centimeters tall. The magnificent doors surrounding it are authentic works of art, painted with scenes from the Old and New Testaments, adding a touch of sacredness and beauty to the already majestic backdrop of the cathedral.

Zodiac signs on the ground

As soon as you cross the threshold of the imposing cathedral, it is possible to find a sundial engraved in the ground, which extends across the entire width of the nave, from right to left. Marble tiles are placed along it on which they are the signs of the zodiac are carved.

Looking at the vault of the first chapel on the right, we notice a small hole in the ceiling which, at solar noon, lets a ray of light filter through and, depending on the month, illuminates the corresponding sign of the zodiac on the tile. below.

This sundial, built in 1786 by astronomers from the Brera Astronomical Observatory, it is periodically updated to adapt to changes caused by the passage of timesuch as the lowering of the ground due to the construction of the underground line which passes under the Duomo.

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The nail of the crucifixion

Another curiosity about the Cathedral of Milan concerns a special nail. In the central nave, looking towards the ceiling of the apse, we can notice the tabernacle, 40 meters high, which houses a relic of inestimable value: it's about Sacred nailor one of the nails which, according to tradition, were used during the crucifixion of Christ.

This precious nail it is only taken from its reliquary and brought to the altar of the Cathedral once a year, in September, during one of the most evocative and mysterious ceremonies of the Milanese tradition: the Nivola Rite. During this ritual, a cloud-shaped “elevator” is used to transport the relic, creating a solemn and enveloping atmosphere that envelops the sanctuary.

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Saffron on the windows

Among the curiosities about the Duomo of Milan that not everyone knows, there is one that concerns its majestic and colorful stained glass windows, in all 52. In fact, they not only decorate the cathedral, but they also had an educational function: through the Through biblical representations, even those who could not read could learn the sacred stories.

But there's more: surprisingly, it seems that the saffron risotto recipeemblematic dish of Milanese cuisine, draws its origins precisely from stained glass windows of Milan Cathedral.

Saffron, in fact, was used to create yellow glass, and it is said that the apprentice of the Belgian master glassmaker Valerio da Fiandra, responsible for working on the stained glass windows of the cathedral, added saffron to the risotto on the occasion of the marriage. from the master's daughter, giving life to an international gastronomic tradition.

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The passable roof

There Milan Cathedral terrace It is visited by millions of tourists every year. By climbing the 251 steps or with a quick elevator ride, it is possible to explore the 8,000 m2 of terraces that make up the Cathedral of Milan. walkable roof of the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.

Between arrows and thousands of details carved in the marble, there is one detail that deserves special mention: on the spiers facing the square, in the left margin, are depicted two boxers fighting. These are sculpted boxers to honor the famous Italian boxer Primo Carnera, celebrating his recognized success in the world of boxing.

The self-cleaning facade

In the first color photos of Milan Cathedral, the facade of the cathedral was almost entirely black. In fact, Piazza Duomo was totally different from the way we usually know it: all public and private transport could circulate in the neighborhoodbecause pedestrianization only arrived towards the end of the 1980s, and it is for this reason that the the effects of the smog were evident on the cathedral.

However, only in the last ten years has the exterior of the cathedral been covered with a natural material which, thanks to the action of sunlight, is capable of self-clean and purify the air fine dust.

The Duomo had its bell tower

Another curiosities about Milan Cathedral What not everyone knows is that in the past even the Gothic cathedral of the Lombard capital had its own cathedral. bell towerlocated at its summit and probably dating from the ancient basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. However, in 1866, for safety reasons, this bell tower was demolished.

Subsequently, we considered the creation of a new bell tower outside the structure. One of the first to propose this project was the architect Luca Beltrami, who proposed building it near the long sleeve of the Royal Palace (now disappeared), but the project was never carried out.

The real role of the Madonna

For more than two centuries, the Madonna it stands majestically on the famous roof of Milan Cathedral, overlooking the Piazza Duomo and the entire city of Milan. Send to 108.5 meters highprotects not only the city from evil, but also itself from bad weather.

Next to the Madonna is a halberd wing, which actually acts as a lightning rod.making the statue capable of defending the cathedral from lightning and bad weather.

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