MILAN CATHEDRAL FACTS
The Duomo Milano is the fifth largest church building in the world and has an interior area of 11,700 square metres. Two of the four bigger churches were constructed in the 20th century, and none are older. It was Bishop Antonio da Saluzzo who initiated construction of the structure way back in 1386 and construction took over 600 years under the tutelage of at least 78 different architects.
It was 32 years before it was consecrated, but at that time, it consisted only of the nave. Major construction works, firstly in terracotta stone, but later in Candoglian marble as the buildings importance became more obvious, continued for two centuries.
No other building of any sort has as many statues in it as Milan Cathedral. Around 3,400 of them are scattered around the structure, including 135 gargoyles. A gold-coloured statue of Mary called the Madonnina (the Little Madonna) stands on the highest spire of the cathedral – 108 metres above the ground. The tallest man-made object in Milan, it was built in 1774 and was covered over during the Second World War to prevent enemy bombers using it as a target marker.
One of the statues is of Napoleon Bonaparte. Why? Well, after conquering the city, the diminutive French megalomaniac wanted to be crowned King of Italy in the cathedral, but its facade was incomplete. He financed its completion over the next seven years, and was then crowned within.