The magnificent cathedral in the centre of Milan known as the Duomo is the world’s third largest church and it took almost 430 years to complete. The work on Milan’s Duomo begun in 1386 and the finishing touches were made in 1813 under Napoleon. The Duomo in Milan consists of more than 3,500 statues and 52 enormous columns inside. There is no better example of Milanese tenacity than the Duomo cathedral which is an unspoilt example of the Gothic style even though it took a total of 427 years to finish.
The many generations of builders somehow managed to ignore every new style which came along over the years from renaissance, baroque and then Neo-Classical. The phrase La Fabbrica del Duomo or the building of the Duomo, is still used today in Milanese dialect to describe anything which seems to be taking forever to complete.
The facade on this beautiful Gothic style cathedral witnessed various of the top 16th century architects submit their designs, however it was not until around 1805 that the Neo-Gothic facade along with it’s bronze doors and reliefs was actually completed. The central bronze door was designed and sculpted by the milanese sculptor Ludovico Pogliaghi.
The interior of Milan’s Duomo cathedral contains 52 columns which are lined with marvellous statues of saints. Paintings from the 16th century are also featured on the vaulting of the outer four naves. The stairway located near the entrance leads to Paleochritian excavations where traces of Roman baths dating back to the 1st century BC have been uncovered and which also contains a basilica dating back to the 4th century.
As the second largest city in Italy, and one of the hottest places in the world for fashion and design, it is no wonder that Milan is an ideal destination for art and design or history based university trips. Settled around 400 BC, Milan has played a major role in world events ever since – including its stint as the head of the Roman Empire (286 to 402 AD), its place of prominence in the High Middle Ages, its role of resistance during the World War Two, and, today, its prime position as Italy’s financial, commercial, and industrial capital.
While you are visiting the city, you should be sure to visit some of the historical locations such as the famous Milan Cathedral before going shopping on Via Monte Napoleone. And, if you plan your university trips right, you can be in Milan for one of the world’s most exciting and important events: Milan Fashion Week.
Once you have marvelled at Milan’s massive and impressive Gothic cathedral, it’s time to focus on something else ideal for art and design based university trips. Take advantage of Milan’s stake in the world’s fashion scene and head over to Via Monte Napoleone to peruse some of the most exclusive shops in Italy. It is simply the most important fashion street in Milan, and you can see why when walking by the vast array of designer shops. Gucci, Prada, Tiffany’s, Fendi, and so many more, Via Monte Napoleone has them all, housed in architecturally stunning buildings. But if you want to shop here, be sure to dress to impress before even setting foot! Don’t be surprised if you find yourself rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, especially during Fashion Week.
Duomo Milan Cathedral and Archaeological Area are open from 9 AM to 6 PM between Monday to Sunday. The rooftop is open from 9 AM to 7 PM from Monday to Thursday and 9 AM to 8 PM from Friday to Sunday. The Duomo Museum is open from 10 AM to 6 PM from Monday to Sunday.
Established in 1958, Milan’s Fashion Week is one of the “big four” fashion weeks in the world. It is hosted by The National Chamber for Italian Fashion which organises and hosts several of the events. Fashion Week is held biannually, with the autumn/winter event being held in September/October and the spring/summer shows happening in February/March. If you can time your university trips correctly, you can land in this fashion Mecca just in time to explore the shows and get a heads up on the future of fashion.
Robert Emdur works for Equity Student Travel, the UK’s leading specialist in group travel for students in higher and further education. We organise university trips to destinations around the world covering a wide range of subjects, as well as conference & event-focused trips.
Numerous stained glass windows decorate the interior which create splashes of colour. Some of the Duomo’s stained glass windows have been made as recent as 1988 although the oldest down the right aisle date back to 1470. A visit to the Duomo in Milan simply has to include a climb or lift journey up to the magnificent roof where one can enjoy the marvellous views over the city of Milan and explore the Duomo’s stunning Gothic crown of spires, statues, tracery and gargoyles.
Another of the Duomo’s highlights to be found inside the cathedral is the funerary monument dedicated to Gian Giacomo Medici. The Michelangelo style tomb of a local mercenary general was in fact created by Leone Leoni and features a life sized bronze of the general dressed in the traditional Roman centurion armour.
The museum in the Duomo contains tapestries and stained glass windows which have been removed from the cathedral for safe keeping. Among other things, here visitors can view wooden model carvings of the Duomo and the infant christ among the doctors which is a masterpiece by Tintoretto.
The ambulatory is nowadays only open to worshippers but tourists can still see a magnificent example of a Lombard sacristy door dating back to the 14th century. The stairs located near to the ambulatory lead down to the crypt where the crystal coffin that holds the body of Saint Charles Borromeo is situated. The treasury which houses liturgical devices and elegant reliquaries can also be found here.
Tourists wishing to enter the cathedral in Milan’s city centre cannot do so if their shoulders are bare or their shorts or skirt rise above mid-thigh so it may be worthwhile considering bringing a shawl or two. If you are lucky enough to be on the roof of the cathedral on one of Milan’s rare smog free days then you will likely be able to enjoy views that stretch across the plains and as far as the Alps.
After an exhausting few hours of visiting the cathedral you may well be needing a well earned drink or something to eat, if that is the case then you really are spoilt for choice in this area of Milan. A campari at the historic Zucca located just inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is highly recommended.
The city centre of Milan can be reached easily by flying into any of Milan’s three airports which are Malpensa Airport, Bergamo Airport and Linate Airport.
Milan is located in Northern Italy and is a true cosmopolitan city. Not as visited as neighboring cities Rome and Venice, Milan is a mist on any Italian itinerary as it has plenty to offer any type of traveler.
Teeming with history, the city itself has been conquered, destroyed and rebuilt on three different occasions. The Goths got to Milan first circa 600AD, then the rebuilt city was destroyed by Barbarossa in 1157, and the final destruction to the city took place during the 2nd World War by the Allied forces. The current state of the city reflects the history of destruction and reconstruction as different architectural styles from different eras exist in the buildings throughout the city.
Milan’s most visited and impressive attraction, the Duomo Cathedral, exhibits an intricately detailed gothic style design, complete with flying buttresses and over 130 spires on the roof. This mammoth cathedral, which can boast as being one of the world’s largest, stands out from the low lying skyline of Milan, making it appear even bigger than it is. Construction began in 1386 and took over 500 years to complete, finally commencing around the 1880’s.
Adding to the Duomo’s storied history is the fact that it narrowly escaped the devastation of the bombs dropped by the Allies in WWII, which destroyed a lot of the buildings and area that surround the cathedral. The prized possession of the Duomo has to be the nail that was removed from the cross of Christ and now hangs on its own cross high above the main alter. The nail is taken down twice a year in a unique ceremony, where the bishop is lifted up in a basket to remove the nail. Also be sure to pay the small fee to either climb the stairs or take the elevator up to the roof for impeccable views of Milan, as well as an up close look at the structures and gargoyles that sit atop this beautiful church.
While not a religious building in the traditional sense, Milan is home to another landmark where people come to worship. Home to two of Italy’s most decorated futbol clubs, AC Milan and Inter Milan, legendary stadium San Siro is a true futbol mecca. The stadium first opened in 1926 and underwent major renovations in 1955 and 1990, with the latter to prepare for that year’s World Cup. The first game held in the stadium, September 19, 1926, pitted the two Milan teams against one another, with Inter Milan being victorious, 6 goals to 3. The stadium was officially named Stadia Giusepe Meazza, who is the greatest Italian futbol player of all time, in a ceremony held in 1980. Be sure to visit the museum inside the stadium to learn about both club’s storied histories as well as view the 24 life sized statues of some of the greatest players in Italian history.
A trip to Milan is not complete without a trip to the Quadrilatero d’Oro (Golden Quad) where you will find the who’s who of fashion. Names like Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabanna, Armani and Versace line the streets in this area of Milan. Milan has been touted as one of the fashion capitals of the world and this will be evident upon first sight of the Golden Quad. Milan can also cater to the more budget minded shopper, with the L’Armadio de Laura area of town. It is here that you will find last season’s fashion at bargain prices. It is also worth checking out Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest shopping arcade in the world, which has seen little changes since it opened in 1867.
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