On the way to downtown when I get out of the subway I am always thrilled by the sight of our majestic cathedral, the Duomo. The facade is superb with huge entrance doors richly decorated and carved . Our cathedral Mariae Nascenti was built in 1386 on the initiative of the Duke of Milan Gian Galeazzo Visconti, who even bought the marble quarries of Candoglia close to Lake Maggiore. The marble was trasported along the Navigli canals.
Several artists worked for Duomo, not only from the north of Italy but also from all parts of Europe. For this reason art historians use the term the international Gothic.
While I ‘am passing near the pillars, it seems to me to walk in a forest. The pillars they are like old high trees, majestic, impressive, really high.
On each side of the aisle, stand rich stained glass windows, some are original, but most has been replaced with a copy of the original. Each stained glass window has a particular history linked to the historical moment and to the artist who created it. The windows were made by germans, french and italian artists ; few names: Stephen Pandino, Nicolo Varallo, Nicholas de bonaventuris, Biagio Arcimboldi.
The larger windows are located in the oldest part of the cathedral, the baptistery. Nicholas de bonaventuris helped to realize the design of them .
The central window depicts the scenes of the Apocalypse,while the side windows the Stories of the Old and New Testament. After having admired behind the choir banister, when you come back in the middle aisle turn around and marvel at the central window in all its glory with a sparkling sun that seems to illuminate the nave.
Now I propose a personal selection of stained glass windows, it’s not a detailed guide to all the Duomo windows but please consider it as my personal selection.
1) the windows on the story of Catherine of Alexandria made by Arcimboldo family (the windows are placed at the bottom).
-Stained glass windows of the Four-crowned saints, note architectural structures typical of the Renaissance, very well-defined stand on the bottom of the blue sky.
-Stained glass windows of the Archangel Michael: they represent the eternal struggle between good and evil, a tangle of angels and devils pitchforks between quivering wings, heads, jerky movements, bold strokes, punches, strong colors . It’s one of my favourite !
The Duomo has a rich and complex history, its buiding was begun in 1386 and finished in ‘800 but still it is never finished. Today there is always some scaffolding for renovation and landscaping jobs. For an good to visit you might schedule 3 -4 hours. In the aisles there are marble altars, richs tombs of archbishops and princes ..most are men of power and richness, both religious and political power. All mens.The Cathedral is a masculine noun .. but indicates the cathedral and the essence of the cathedral is female, the cathedral in fact is dedicated to the Mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, in particular, to the nascent Marie, whose feast is the nativity of Mary on the 8th of September.
There are many details that make this cathedral dedicated to the worship of Mary. Inside the central door a beautiful stained glass window depicting the Virgin Mary, on the right aisle at the bottom of the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple by sculptor Bambaia, almost looks like a painting, the virgin is represented as a small girl in the act of climbing the grand staircase, a delicate image with high visual impact.
I end my visit and go outdoors and this time and right on the highest spire admire the Madonnina with its 4, 16 meters of golden glow observed the frenetic movement of passers-by every day for work, leisure and study through the square .
Here some informations to visit the cathedral.
TIME : everyday 7.00 A.M – 6.30 P.M
Admission fee applies for Duomo terraces, the baptisteries Battistero S.Giovanni , Battistero S.Stefano and the Tesoro del Duomo.