Earlier this month the lovely team at Friend of Glass invited me to Milan to visit their stand at Expo 2015.
Whilst in the city we visited the Milan Cathedral (better known as Duomo di Milano), which is based next to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - one of the world's oldest shopping malls.
Having looked online before our trip, the thing I most wanted to do in Milan (besides eating a copius amount of Galto) was to visit the Duomo and walk along it's beautiful roof.
They say there are more statues on this Gothic-style cathedral than any other building in the world, with over 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures decorating the roof. I read that to fully appreciate it's architecture a visit to the roof is crucial.
Although we arrived early the line to buy tickets was extremely long. After queueing for a little while and not moving, a passing tour guide informed us that there was another ticket office round the back of the cathedral that had no line. Amazingly, based behind a large double door in between retail units, there was indeed another two ticket offices - saving us a very long wait in the blazing sun - which were also near a side entrance to the cathedral roof (again, with no queue).
We purchased tickets including access to the lift and made our way to the rooftop. The Duomo is the fifth largest Christian church in the world, outdone by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and Seville’s Cathedral - its size is even more impressive considering it’s the oldest church on that list.
Unlike other European churches the Milan cathedral has no campanille or bell tower. Instead it has 135 spires, each mounted with a statue depicting important people in Milan’s history. Exploring the roof of the Duomo was the highlight of my short visit to Milan - as you can see from my pictures, the view is spectacular.
Inside, the cathedral continues to reveal more surprises. Near the main entrance you’ll see a sundial on the floor and a ray of sunlight from a hole on the opposite wall. Though ancient (it was placed in Milan Duomo in 1768 by astronomers from the Accademia di Brera) the sundial is surprisingly precise, and is even used to regulate clocks throughout the city.
Above the apse (the arched part above the altar) there is a spot marked with a red light bulb. This marks the spot where one of the nails of Jesus’ crucifixion was allegedly placed. Every year on the Saturday closest to September 14 the archbishop of Milan ascends to the apex in a wooden basket decorated with angels to retrieve the nail.
There are a few thing to remember before visiting the Duomo, however:
Wear something that will cover your legs from the knee down and completely cover your shoulders and back (as you can see from the above picture, I had to wrap a friend's spare maxi skirt around my shoulders!).
Keep your selfie stick in your bag - there's lots of salesmen outside selling them but you can't use them inside or on the roof of the cathedral.