This year, the Duomo of Milano celebrates its 630th birthday. Six centuries that were more than intense and saw bombings, restorations and reconstructions. Six centuries of art and architecture eternally conjoined with the city’s history. From September to December 2017, the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo is making a huge gift to the Milanese people, tourists and enthusiasts who wish to see places normally closed to the public.
Seven afternoon appointments are scheduled to access the heart of the Milan Cathedral, to encounter up-close and personal its stories, its mysteries and secrets. The visit will allow you to know more about the most fascinating corners of the cathedral and even its unknown spots. You will be guided through the history and beauty of places such as the archaeological excavations sites, the terraces, the Cathedral Museum or the precious Archives, an ancient diary of our city.
The initiative began on September 9th at 3:30 pm with a visit to the origins of the Duomo, its archaeological area and the Baptistery. In fact, before the construction of the cathedral even began, in late 14th century, there were two paleo-christian cathedrals in the area, Santa Maria Maggiore and the basilica of Santa Tecla, and a baptistery, named San Giovanni alle Fonti, where St. Augustine was actually baptized by St. Ambrose more than seven hundred years ago.
On September 17th and 19th, there was a guided tour of the Duomo, exploring its protagonists and the yearly celebrations of Nivola when the most sacred relic preserved in the Cathedral is exposed to the believers: the Holy Nail. During the celebration of the Feast of the Cross, the arch-bishop is lifted on a 17th century lift around 40 meters above the ground of the apsidal conch where the Holy Nail is suspended in its tabernacle, then he takes the relic and brings it down to expose it to the adoration of the public before putting it back again. The term Nivola derives from the word “nuvola” (“cloud” in italian) and is referred to the lift that is used during the rite.
The, on September 23rd the Terraces were visited, with their eight square kilometers of walkable surface and one-hundred and thirty-five spires, while on October 14th there was the most fascinating moment, devoted to the “secret Duomo“: a visit to the cathedral’s chancel and Cappella Jemale (“Winter Chapel” in ancient Italian) reserved only to the celebrations of the Capitol Clergy and to the Aquilonar (or Northern) Sacresty, accessible only to priests.
But here are the scheduled appointments for the coming months:
On November 11th, the meeting, called “Tales of Light” will make you know very closely the secrets and origins of the monumental stained windows, the Duomo has fifty-five, some of which date back to the 15th century, while others were realized throughout the centuries with the most recent being finished during the ’80s. You will be able to admire this history book written in stained glass in every little detail, even those who are too distant or tiny to be seen; appreciate the artistic techniques and know the many artisans who worked on them over the centuries.
The visit on November 25th, named “The Marble People. Sculpture in the Cathedral” will focus on the statues realized for the Duomo over the centuries, following a path that will unfold through the halls of the Duomo Museum among saints, monsters, heroes and kings. The Duomo has three-thousands and four hundred statues, besides the seven hundred high-reliefs. Many of these statues, the most precious and ancient, were transferred to the Duomo Museum after WWII. They were conceived to be looked at from the ground and from great distance, so the many sculptors modified their dimensions to create illusionistic perfect perspectives. All of these techniques and many others will be illustrated during the visit.
On December 2, this itinerary will end with a visit to the most important place and the one of the highest value: the Archives of the Fabbrica of the Duomo, overlooking the huge Duomo’s apse, and in which are stored documents, photographs and written testimonies about the origins, history and protagonists linked to this symbol of Milan. The most ancient documents date back centuries and some of those will be examined, among which there will be those relative to the foundation, the most important donations and the major works of art.
A rich and fascinating journey that has made this extraordinary work of architecture and art special not only in Milan, but throughout the world. A unique experience to discover one of the most gigantic historic sites in the world to its most hidden depths.
For every information, prices, timetables and reservations, please visit the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo’s dedicated page online.