Be sure to read more about the exterior and façade in our post A Spectacular View: Up Among the Spires & Statues of Milan Cathedral.
The post below focuses primarily on the interior of the cathedral which is equally as beautiful!
1387-1447 Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan set up the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo tasking the Fabbrica to supervise the design, building and conservation of the Milan Duomo. He also chose to use Candoglia Marble to construct the cathedral. Architects, sculptors and workers from Central Europe flocked to build the cathedral and probably contributed local influences to their creations.
The cathedral has five large naves divided by fifty-two pillars that support the cross vaulted ceiling.
The question of how to complete the windows with glass arose with the completion of the first architectural structure, the north sacristy, and at that time, colored glass was installed in geometric designs.
In 1403, the decision was made to install “historiated” stained glass. The stained glass played an important part in the cathedral portraying bible characters and stories to help inform the largely illiterate congregation.
In the first half of the 16th century, it became necessary to repair all the glass work. In this period, various commissions were given to artists including Giuseppe Arcimboldi who created numerous designs for the windows.
The work of Arcimboldi and of Pellegrino Pelegrini marked the beginning of a new way of working which clearly distinguished the design phase, entrusted to an artist acknowledged as master painter from the production phase, carried out by a skilled master glass-maker.
Stained glass processing technique had remained almost unchanged until the 19th century when, with the cultural renewal brought about by Lombard Romanticism and the “Gothic Revival”, Giovanni Battista Bertini and his sons worked using a new technique of painted enamel decoration. They continued to use the earlier model of historiated stained glass in their designs.
The presbytery is a late Renaissance masterpiece composing a choir, a Temple by Pellegrini, two pulpits with giant ”atlantes” (a support sculpted in the form of a man) covered in copper and bronze, and two large organs.