- By Kevin
- On Oct 23, 2017
- Travel Tips
The massive Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente,which the Milanese call just"Il Duomo"is among the world's largest(it holds up to 40,000 people)and most magnificent churches,the ultimate example of the Flamboyant Gothic style.It was begun in the 14th century,but its façade was not completed until the early 1800s,under Napoleon.The roof is topped by 135 delicately carved stone pinnacles and the exterior is decorated with 2,245 marble statues.The dim interior,in striking contrast to the brilliant and richly patterned exterior,makes a powerful impression with its 52 gigantic pillars.The stained-glass windows in the nave(mostly 15th-16th centuries)are the largest in the world;the earliest of them are in the south aisle.Highlights include the seven-branched bronze candelabrum by Nicholas of Verdun(c.1200)in the north transept,the 16th-century tomb of Gian Giacomo Medici,and the jeweled gold reliquary of San Carlo Borromeo in the octagonal Borromeo Chapel leading off the crypt.Behind the high altar,the choir has deeply carved panels,and misericords under the seats.
In the south sacristy is the treasury with gold and silver work dating from the fourth to the 17th century.A walk on the roof of the cathedral is an impressive experience,offering views across the city and extending on clear days to the snow-covered Alps.(An elevator ascends all but the last 73 steps to the platform of the dome).At the front of the Duomo,near the central doorway,you can descend under Piazza del Duomo into the foundations of the Basilica di Santa Tecla(fourth-fifth and seventh century)and the fourth-century baptistery,Battistero di San Giovanni alle Fonti,which were discovered during the construction of the Milan Metro system.
Address:Piazza del Duomo,Milan
Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper
The Gothic brick church of Santa Maria delle Grazie,in the Corso Magenta,was begun about 1465,and its massive six-sided dome in the finest Early Renaissance style was designed by Bramante,one of Italy's most influential Renaissance architects.The church-and adjoining refectory,which holds Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper-were badly damaged in World War II,and during the repair work,old sgraffito paintings in the dome were brought to light.At the end of the north aisle is the Baroque chapel of the Madonna delle Grazie,with an altarpiece of the Madonna.
But the reason most tourists visit Santa Maria delle Grazie is to see da Vinci's most famous work,painted on the refectory wall of the former Dominican monastery.The Cenacolo Vinciano,as it is called here,was painted on the wall in tempera between 1495 and 1497.Instead of earlier static representations of Christ's last meal with his disciples,Da Vinci presents a dramatic depiction of the scene,which was quite novel and marked an important new stage in the development of art.The painting,which had already begun to flake off before the destruction of part of the room left it exposed to weather,has been restored several times,a process which will probably never be fully completed.
Address:Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie 2,Milan