MILANO - Duomo


Duomo di Milano, a Lombard Gothic style jewelry of architecture ! ...


Construction of the new Cathedral Church of Milan began when Gothic cathedral architecture had already reached the height of its development, in 1386 and it was decided that the new church should be built on the site of the basilicas of Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Tecla.

The design was intended to comply with the elements of Lombard Gothic style, a more formal than substantial transcription of Lombard Romanesque style, from which it inherited the building experience, the structural decisions and the traditional material, brickwork.

Gian Galeazzo Visconti's decision to use Candoglia marble in place of brickwork brought about an authentic revolution and forced the Fabbrica to seek engineers, architects, sculptors and stone-cutters who were expert in the Central European Gothic style in cathedral building sites all over Europe.

This was the origin of the unique Gothic style of the Duomo and it is for this reason too that it is not possible to trace the architect who worked on the delicate initial phase of design.

Practical decisions on site were always reached collectively with the engineers and experts working on the building, of whom there was always a considerable number and so the Duomo became a crossroads of people and cultures: a lively place for exchange of the most widely differing ideas, experiences and manual skills expressed by workers originating from the regions stretching from the Pyrenees to the Carpathians, thus making the Duomo the most European example of Gothic cathedrals.

Carlo and Federico Borromeo took inspiration for their work on the Duomo from the architectural concepts and forms and the ecclesiastic furnishings of Papal Rome, giving the interior of the Duomo a new look: the grandiose architectural layout of the presbytery, the lateral altars, the crypt, the baptistery, the paving.

With the death of the two members of the Borromeo family and the gradual mitigation of their spiritual and cultural influence, it did not take long before the faithfulness of the Fabbrica to the Gothic style began to guide its decisions towards an architecture that was more static and less spiritual in its decorations, already influenced by the Neoclasical climate.


As in all Gothic cathedrals, the architecture and decorative elements of the Duomo too were designed from the very beginning to convey a message of Christian salvation.

All art in medieval religious buildings was conceived as a means for teaching the faithful. All that mankind needed to know – the history of the world, from its creation to the end of time, the dogmas of religion, the teachings of the saints, the hierarchy of virtues, the variety of knowledge, of the arts and crafts – was illustrated and taught by means of paintings, stained glass windows, sculpture and architectural elements.
In the view of medieval men, furthermore, cathedrals were always taken to be a symbol of the celestial Jerusalem and sculpture in the Duomo, in particular, embodies this idea.

The statuary decorations (3400 statues plus over seven hundred figures in the marble high reliefs) enhancing the capitals, vaults, marble ornaments, facade, large windows and the 135 spires and pinnacles, provide an image of Paradise: patriarchs and prophets, martyrs and saints indicate our eternal destiny as people redeemed by the sacrifice of the Cross, guided towards heaven by the Virgin Mary whose statue stands on the highest point of the cathedral. 
The statuary is a specific and at the same time pre-eminent aspect of the Duomo. Indeed, it has been produced without interruption for six centuries: it is the only on-going testimony of sculpted works of a cathedral construction site that has continued to produce statues, year after year, that are consistent with the cultural climate of each individual historical moment.









As in all Gothic cathedrals, the architecture and decorative elements of the Duomo too were designed from the very beginning to convey a message of Christian salvation.
All art in medieval religious buildings was conceived as a means for teaching the faithful. All that mankind needed to know – the history of the world, from its creation to the end of time, the dogmas of religion, the teachings of the saints, the hierarchy of virtues, the variety of knowledge, of the arts and crafts – was illustrated and taught by means of paintings, stained glass windows, sculpture and architectural elements.
In the view of medieval men, furthermore, cathedrals were always taken to be a symbol of the celestial Jerusalem and sculpture in the Duomo, in particular, embodies this idea.

The statuary decorations (3400 statues plus over seven hundred figures in the marble high reliefs) enhancing the capitals, vaults, marble ornaments, facade, large windows and the 135 spires and pinnacles, provide an image of Paradise: patriarchs and prophets, martyrs and saints indicate our eternal destiny as people redeemed by the sacrifice of the Cross, guided towards heaven by the Virgin Mary whose statue stands on the highest point of the cathedral. 
The statuary is a specific and at the same time pre-eminent aspect of the Duomo. Indeed, it has been produced without interruption for six centuries: it is the only on-going testimony of sculpted works of a cathedral construction site that has continued to produce statues, year after year, that are consistent with the cultural climate of each individual historical moment.