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Two must-sees in Milan: the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II!

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In this article, I present you two must-sees during your stay in Milan: the Duomo, which is the Cathedral of the city, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a sublime historical shopping gallery. I also give you all the practical information you need to plan your visit.



  1. Duomo di Milano

  2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II


1. Duomo di Milano

Here is the most important monument in Milan: the Duomo. This cathedral, which is the seat of the archbishopric of Milan, is the third largest church in the world after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the Cathedral of Seville. It can accommodate more than 40,000 people.

A few words about its construction: started in 1386, it took five and a half centuries to complete it in 1932. The initial purpose of this work was to celebrate the territorial expansion of the Viscontis. Several architects, sculptors and artists contributed to this "Fabbrica del Duomo". The final result is a gothic style fused with the Lombard tradition.

The facade of the Duomo is made of Candoglia marble, a white marble slightly pinkish. In addition, more than 2000 statues in various styles are present on the walls of the Cathedral. The Duomo is topped by 136 spires, hence its nickname "marble hedgehog". At the very top of the Duomo, you can see a gilded copper statue, sculpted by Giuseppe Perego in 1774. It is the Madonnina, who became the patroness of the city of Milan.

When you enter the Duomo, the tiled floor is almost hypnotic and you are impressed by the immense dimensions of the building, an impression reinforced by the 52 marble columns with statues that reach the ceiling. These columns represent the 52 weeks of a year. There are 5 naves.

Inside the Cathedral, there is also a statue that appeals when you pass by: it is the statue of the apostle Bartholomew, the patron saint of butchers, tanners and bookbinders. He appears with his skin torn off and falling on his shoulders, in reference to the martyrdom he suffered.

It is important to note that in order to enter the Cathedral, it is imperative to have your shoulders and knees covered.

In addition, it is possible to access the large terrace located at the very top of the cathedral, which occupies almost the entire surface of the roof and allows you to walk around in order to have an unobstructed view of Milan, but also of the pinnacles and sculptures on the roof. Unfortunately, with my legendary fear of heights, I did not go there and therefore I do not have personal photos of this terrace. Nevertheless, it remains a must-see, especially at sunset! It is possible to access the terrace in two ways: either via the stairs (250 steps) or via the elevator.

Regarding the opening hours, the Cathedral and the terrace are open every day from 9am to 7pm. In both cases, the last entrance is one hour before closing time.

Concerning the prices, the access to the Cathedral is unfortunately not free. Thus, if you only want to see the Cathedral, it costs 6 euros, knowing that access to the Cathedral alone is only available on Wednesdays. If you only want to see the Cathedral on the other days of the week, you will have to pay an extra euro, which will also give you access to the Cathedral Museum. Finally, to have access to the terrace, it costs an additional 10 euros if you choose to access it by stairs and 15 euros more if you choose to take the elevator.

It is possible to buy tickets directly on the official website. In our case, we bought the tickets on the spot at the ticket office located next to the Duomo (it was around 12:30 pm during the week of Easter 2023 and the line was fast, about 15 minutes of waiting). We only wanted to get into the Cathedral, but since it was a Monday and not a Wednesday, we had to buy two tickets for 7 euros that also included access to the Museum, which we went through quickly after visiting the Cathedral. Then, when we got our tickets, we directly lined up to access the Cathedral and, again, it took us about 15 minutes at around 1pm.

The Duomo Museum is located in front of the Cathedral and is open every day (except Wednesdays) from 10 am to 7 pm, with the last entrance one hour before closing time.

This Museum allows you to discover a lot of information about the history of the Cathedral, its construction, its architectural styles, its restoration. Many religious objects, stained glass windows, tapestries and sculptures from the cathedral of Milan are also on display. Finally, during your visit to the museum, you will have access to the church of San Gottardo in Corte.

I found the atmosphere in this museum a little peculiar because it is plunged into darkness, which I understand completely to highlight the works, but you tend to lose your bearings and, moreover, you have to follow an imposed path from beginning to end ... Nevertheless, I had a crush on one piece of art in the museum: the imposing and sublime wooden model of the Duomo.


2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is named after King Victor Emmanuel II, the father of the Italian nation, who inaugurated the gallery in 1878, after 11 years of construction. Its architect, Giuseppe Mengoni, was unfortunately not so lucky, having died a year before the inauguration after falling from a scaffold during an inspection of the works (the irony of fate...).

During World War II, the gallery was damaged, but it was completely renovated before the Milan World Expo in 2015, requiring nearly 35,000 hours of work!

This magnificent gallery is nicknamed the "living room of Milan" and was designed to be a passage between the two essential points of Milan that are the Duomo and La Scala, which I recommend in this other article to discover through one of the guided tours that the theater offers.

After passing the triumphal arch symbolizing the entrance to the Victor-Emmanuel II Gallery, you can observe that the arcades are protected by sublime glass windows, all connected by a majestic central dome. Moreover, on the walls of the central octagon, you can admire four mosaic paintings that symbolize the four continents (Europe, America, Africa and Asia).

Concerning the stores in the gallery, everything is luxury (I would have added calm and pleasure, but the gallery is unfortunately much too busy for that). Indeed, there are many luxury brands (Prada, Gucci, Borsalino, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, to name a few). Let's not forget that Milan is the capital of fashion!

There are also historic restaurants, cafés and pastry shops in the gallery, such as Savini and Biffi, both founded in 1867, and the Marchesi pastry shop, founded in 1824. You will notice that the signs have to follow a color code: the background must be black and the inscriptions golden. Beware of the prices because the place is highly touristic!

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In the center of the gallery, you can observe on the floor in mosaic the coat of arms of the House of Savoy of Victor-Emmanuel II with a white cross on a red background. Around, four mosaics represent the four historical capitals of Italy: Milan (under Napoleon) then Turin, Florence and Rome.

Just next door, don't be surprised if you see a line forming in front of the representation on the ground of a mosaic bull. Indeed, the custom wants that you make three times the turn on yourself, with the heel of your right foot put on the genitals of the bull, so that that carries you chance. You can see that the mosaic has disappeared at this precise place, having to be often restored!

The gallery remains open 24 hours a day, so if you come very early in the morning or very late at night, you'll have a better chance of taking pictures with far fewer people present!

Last information: if you still have some money left after your visit to the gallery, you can even have the chance to sleep there, in one of the rooms of the Galleria Vik Milano hotel...

See you soon for more articles dedicated to Milan and Rome!

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=> I hope this article has helped you in the preparation of your stay in Milan and, if you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate, I'll be happy to get back to you!


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