1 The Milan Cathedral, or in Italian, Duomo di Milano, is the cathedral church of Milan, Italy. This Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the largest church in Italy measuring 520-feet by 302-feet. It is also the fifth largest in the world, and is big enough to accommodate 40-thousand worshippers.
2 It is believed that there are more statues on the cathedral than on any other building in the world. There are a total of up to 3400-statues, including nearly 100-gargoyles, and 135-spires that decorate this impressive structure.
3 If you look closely, you can see the statues atop the church spires. These spire statues depict important people in Milan's history, and various religious characters. A spire is a tapering conical structure on the top of a building - most often, a church tower.
4 Over the centuries, the cathedral had a total of about 80-architects and engineers, who worked painstakingly to construct this massive church. The most influential of them were Nicolas de Bonaventure and Jean Mignot - French architects who infused much of the Gothic style into its design.
5 The exterior of the cathedral is made of brick faced with a beautiful mottled pink marble from the Candoglia quarries, which were donated into perpetuity for the cathedral's use. It was used to build the magnificent cathedral and is still used today for maintenance and restoration work.
6 The roof of the cathedral is open to visitors. It features spectacular details including the forest of openwork pinnacles and spires set upon delicate flying buttresses. Flying buttresses are a feature of medieval Gothic cathedrals. Each is made up of two parts - the buttress, or large masonry block, and the flyer, an arch between the buttress and the exterior wall.
7 The main spire of the cathedral was topped in 1762 with a polychrome statue of the Madonnina, a statue of the Virgin Mary, the protector of Milan. This Madonnina spire, known in Italian as guglia del tiburio, is one of the main features of the Milan Cathedral. By tradition, no building in Milan is higher than the Madonnina, which was built at a height of 356 feet.
8 The Madonnina spire was designed by Giuseppe Perego in 1774. Because Milan is known for its damp and foggy weather, the Milanese consider it a fair-weather day when the Madonnina is visible from a distance.
9 This is a look at one of the back sides of the cathedral. Unlike other European churches, this Milan Cathedral doesn't have a bell tower, or campanile. Instead, the bells are located in the center spire on the roof.
10 The exterior of the cathedral is covered with more than 2000 statues. Many of the statues of the cathedral portray saints, prophets, and other characters or scenes from the Bible.
11 All the statues and scenes in the facade of the cathedral were all meticulously carved - look at all the intricate details and dimensions.
12 The floor of the Milan cathedral is made of marble - the white marble is Candoglia marble, the black is Varenna marble, and the contrasting brownish red is called Arzo marble.
13 The central nave of the cathedral measures about 148-feet high. The interior includes more than 109-thousand square feet of space, and its floor plan is in the shape of a Latin cross.
14 There are five naves divided by 52-large pillars - one for every week of the year. These towering pillars support the cross-vaulted ceiling.
15 And, each of these spectacular pillars is 80-feet tall.
16 The cathedral is illuminated by 164 windows, of which 55 are closed because they are made of beautifully stained glass.
17 The Milan Cathedral is considered both Gothic and Neo-Gothic in style. Because of the length of time it took to complete the church, architectural details crossed a mixture of design influences.
18 There are three altars in the cathedral, designed by Pellegrino Pellegrini, all of which include ornate art scenes.
19 The interior of the cathedral is expansive, but dark. Access into the church is made through one of five large bronze doors from Piazza Duomo.
20 Daisy Schwartzberg, my makeup artist, and my friend, Kira Faiman.
21 Scenes from the Old testament decorate many of the stained glass windows.
22 Every wall and corner of the cathedral was adorned with statues, carvings and other biblical works of art. The last details of the cathedral were finished in the 20th century, although some un-carved blocks of marble remain to be completed as statues.
23 One of the two famous statues in the cathedral - San Bartolomeo, or St. Bartholomew, by Marco d'Agrate, 1562. St. Bartholomew was skinned alive, so oftentimes he is depicted in religious scenes carrying his own skin. In this case, it is draped around him.
24 After nearly six centuries, more than one thousand cubic meters of Serizzo granite, more than 600-thousand marble blocks of Candoglia, and the work of many people, the cathedral retains its splendor, especially at night.
25 The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the world's oldest shopping malls. The nearby Galleria is housed within a four-story double arcade in Central Milan, connecting Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala. It is home to luxury retailers, restaurants, cafes, and bars, and to some of the oldest shops in Milan.
26 The Galleria is often nicknamed il salute di Milano, meaning Milan's drawing room, because of its numerous shops and its use as a popular meeting and dining location.
27 The street is covered by arching glass and cast iron roof with a glass dome, a design that was popular for 19th century arcades - it was crucial in the development of the modern day glazed and enclosed shopping mall.
28 A group of vacationing young college women from the United States saw me walking in front of the Milan Cathedral and asked if I would pose in a photo with them - of course, I did.