Next time you're in Milan, take the elevator up to the
roof of the city's magnificent cathedral.
There are wonders galore to see up close, and you can also
climb some 100 more steps partway up the spire.
In 1386, the first stone was laid for a building conceived in
the French rayonnant Gothic style.
You can easily see how Gothic architecture aspires to "draw the eye up to Heaven"
300 employees were hired and, thanks mostly to donations
from the public, work proceeded handily.
Over the course of the next three centuries, the sanctuary grew bigger
and taller, so that now only St. Peter's Basilica is larger in Italy, and only one
Gothic cathedral in the world is larger: that of Seville, Spain.
It is hard to imagine that so many small masterpieces would have
been built way up here, hundreds of feet above ground where no
one could see them… except God!
…Or the angels!
Technology was actually invented to haul these stones
to higher and higher altitudes.
At the very top of it all is La Madonnina, the golden Mary
who watches over the people of Milan.
In 1776, La Scala Theatre was built nearby. You can see its
circular dome from your coveted seat, or from the Duomo roof.
Not many people know that the Duomo owes its unmistakable
façade to Napoleon, who was crowned King of Italy in 1805.
It was after this that many of the arches and spires were completed.
Gradually, a modern city grew at the feet of the cathedral.
Mark Twain said this of Il Duomo: "So grand, so solemn, so vast!
And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful!"
The saints who keep watch on the populace below stand
350 feet above the street.