Duomo, Milan: a guide Duomo, source: Flickr/Music of the sun

Duomo, Milan: a guide

The streets around the Cathedral take you on a journey back in time

The Duomo. Milan's most famous building for which the first stone was laid in 1386, and for which construction officially ended in 1965 with the installation of the last giant bronze door. They started from the east apse end, and by the time they had reached the façade 400 years later, there was no trace of any of the original drawings. And so the main face of the Cathedral is a hotch-potch of styles, a bit Gothic, a bit Renaissance and a bit Neoclassical, rather like the architecture of the whole city.

The effect when you emerge from the Metro and find that glistening white edifice towering above you, with its forest of spires that seem to want to propel the saints atop them directly to heaven, is always breathtaking. And the Duomo is just one of the stories written in stone in the city centre, which comprises the Medieval Palazzo della Ragione (1228) where you can try the ‘whispering gallery’ effect under the colonnade, the Castle (from about 1350), the Renaissance Palazzo Marino (1560), the Neoclassical Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (1865), Palazzo Mezzanotte (1930) and many others. Plus great shopping, dining and entertainment in the area, all within easy walking distance.

DuomoDuomo, source: Flickr/Shane Gorski


Cathedral rooftop

Come face to face with some of the Duomo’s 3,200 statues, and, on a clear day, see right across to the Alps. You may also see some contemporary sculpture by Tony Cragg, with his marble pieces installed on the rooftop specially for EXPO. Tickets from ticket office inside Cathedral or from the main ticket office behind the east apse, Via Arcivescovado 1.

La Rinascente

On Galleria Vittorio Emanuele this iconic department store has a long history, and its name was coined by Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio in 1917. Don’t miss the cafés, restaurants and food halls on the top floor, with fantastic views of the Cathedral just opposite. www.rinascente.it

Roof of La RinascenteRoof of La Rinascente

Piazza della Scala

On one side, the world-famous opera house La Scala, with a museum that will appeal to classical music lovers; on the other, Palazzo Marino, a fine Renaissance mansion that is now the municipal head office. Don’t miss the lovely museum Gallerie d’Italia, a converted bank with a superb art collection, Piazza della Scala 6.


Piazza della Scala

Casa degli Omenoni

Built by sculptor Leone Leoni in Via degli Omenoni, close to Piazza della Scala, the house is named after the giant telamons on the façade. Leone (lion) seems to have been a fairly unsociable chap: just look up to the frieze below the roof to find out what happens to unfortunate unwanted visitors...


Casa degli Omenoni

Related: 10 things you never knew existed in Milan

Piazza Liberty

There is a lot of Art Nouveau (known locally as Liberty) in Milan, and this façade was originally part of a hotel on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, bombed during the Second World War. What remained was incorporated into a modern building. Don’t miss the Ferrari store on the ground floor.


© Hugo-photography / Flickr

1 Duomo
2 La Rinascente
3 La Scala
4 Casa degli Omenoni
5 Piazza Liberty

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