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Milan Cathedral

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The Milan Cathedral (Ital. Duomo di Milano or Basilica cattedrale metropolitana di Santa Maria Nascente) is 'the symbol' and landmark of Milan. It surpasses many other churches worldwide in size and splendor. Numerous statues, sculptures, and intricately decorated windows adorn the fascinating masterpiece of white marble. The Milan Cathedral is among the largest churches in the world and architecturally, it is also the most imposing cathedral in all of Italy. The two levels of the terrace offer a breathtaking view - even as far as the Alps! Originally, no building in Milan was allowed to surpass this 108m high, masterful work. Whether this is still the case today, you can find out with us! Secure your ticket in advance to experience the impressive scale of the cathedral up close.
Miriam DewamBy Miriam Dewam
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Milan Cathedral & Terraces

Visit Milan's unique masterpiece and experience the city from above with an incredible view that reaches the Alps and gives you a breathtaking view of the Piazza del Duomo.
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Milan: Cathedral and Duomo's Terraces Entrance Ticket
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Duomo di Milano, Rooftops & Museum: Entry Ticket
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Milan Cathedral: Duomo Terraces Ticket (No Church Access)
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Milan: Skip-the-Line Tour of the Rooftop of the Duomo
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Tours & Old Town Tours

Discover the vibrant cultural metropolis of Milan. Experience unforgettable moments during a guided tour with a local guide. Visit the cathedral and also "The Last Supper". Learn about the city's history! Benefit from Skip-the-Line options and enjoy a smooth visit.
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Milan: City Center & Last Supper Walking Tour
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Milan: Skip-the-Line Tour of the Rooftop of the Duomo
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Milan Duomo and Rooftop 2-Hour Guided Tour
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Milan: Guided Walking Tour with Duomo and the Last Supper
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Combine cultural highlights with local taste experiences

Exclusive tours combine culture and pleasure in a special way. With this combination ticket, you will experience not only the Milan Cathedral but also enjoy delicious pizza, wine or italian icecream.
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Milan: Duomo & Last Supper Private Tour with Gelato Tasting
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Milan: Duomo, Galleria, Brera, & Pizza Tasting Private Tour
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Milan: Duomo with Rooftop Private Tour, Food, & Wine Tasting
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Best of Milan: Guided Tour with Duomo, Food & Wine Tasting
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12 tips for visiting the Milan Cathedral

The breathtaking view from the roof extends to the mountains | Photo: Flickr, kuhnmi - CC BY 2.0
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Book your ticket in advanceIf you're not an early bird on vacation, it's advisable to purchase the ticket in advance. The queues at the ticket counters are always long; queuing not only takes nerves, but also time. The two left main entrances of the cathedral are even reserved for online reservations and fast-track tickets. This way, you can count on a quicker entry. Please note that individual tickets for the terraces and the Duomo+Museum-Ticket are tied to a time slot. All other offers are valid from the booking day you choose (pay attention to the time!) for three days.
Milan Cathedral on 'Piazza del Duomo' | Photo: Flickr, Sergio Boscaino - CC BY 2.0
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Caution! Choose the right ticketThe Milan Cathedral offers you a variety of attractions, for which, however, you need different tickets. With the Culture Pass, you gain access to the Cathedral, the Scurolo di San Carlo chapel, the archaeological sites, the Duomo Museum, and the San Gottardo in Corte church. The Culture Pass Plus includes all this and also entry to the Crypt. The Combo Stairs Ticket grants you the same access as the Culture Pass, except for the archaeological sites, but you gain access to the roof terraces via stairs. The Combo Lift Ticket offers the same as the Combo Stairs, but saves you the arduous climb to the roof terraces. For visiting the roof terraces alone, you have three ticket options: stairs, lift, or Fast Track lift ticket. Naturally, there is also the Fast Track Pass, which includes all options plus fast track for the lift.
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Explore Milan's culture with a guideLearn more on a guided tour in a small group. Local guides will accompany you through the cathedral. In this way, you can get to know the vibrant cultural metropolis Milan much more deeply. Also, take advantage of combo tickets that not only provide you a tour of the cathedral but also a visit to "The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci (single tickets are often sold out weeks in advance!). Many tickets with tours also include a Skip-the-Line option to ensure a smooth visit.
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Not interested in a guided tour?Do you want to experience the city on your own and at your own pace? Then, a Hop-on Hop-off bus tour through Milan is a good option, where you decide when to visit which attractions. Book your bus ticket plus entry to Milan Cathedral to not miss out on anything in the city. Planning to visit several museums in Milan? Then, the Milan City Pass is a good choice. This combo ticket gives you access to many attractions, including the Duomo, with tickets for the terrace and the museum - public transport is also included in the price.
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But at least with audio guide...If you don't want to explore Milan Cathedral as part of a tour group, an audio guide is the right choice! Learn more about the cathedral's history and let your audio guide take you through its impressive architecture. The audio guide is available in eleven languages and can usually be added to your ticket if offered.
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Get the free video guide via appThe organization responsible for the preservation of the cathedral offers a multimedia tour of the Milan Cathedral with the free app DUOMO MILANO. Immerse yourself in the world of the cathedral perhaps even before your real visit and discover the interior, the archaeological area, the museum, and the terraces. Learn interesting and curious facts and don't miss out on discovering the treasures of the cathedral on this virtual level.
The long queues at Milan Cathedral | Photo: Flickr, kevin_lavorgna - CC BY 2.0
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In Italy, you must... EAT!When in Italy, one should seize every opportunity to enjoy the culinary diversity of this country. Here, one of our combo tickets offers the best of two worlds: culture and culinary delight. After the cathedral tour in small groups, an exclusively offered tour awaits you with pizza, wine or even italian ice cream.
The facade of Milan Cathedral | Photo: geo pixel - CC BY 3.0
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Ready for a sporting ascent?To reach the highest viewpoint of the cathedral, you must overcome 158 steps, some of which are in tight spirals with low ceilings. Therefore, the elevator is advisable for all visitors who suffer from claustrophobia. On the way up, you pass statues of saints, animals, and monsters, and many towers along the wall - about 31m (101.7 ft) above the ground. All this you would miss if you opt for the more comfortable ascent, the lift. NOTE: Even if you take the lift: from the point where the elevator stops to the highest viewpoint, the Central Terrace - about 45m (147.6 ft) above the ground - there are still 50 steps to climb. Also, keep in mind that the queues for the elevator are often extremely long! In any case, the wonderful view with an unimaginable view over the city makes all the effort worthwhile.
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Did someone say Fast-Track?In addition to the left entrance for fast entry tickets, the Milan Cathedral also offers a fast track option for the lift. The entrance to the lift for the regular "Terrace Access by Lift Ticket" is located on the north side ("North Lift") of the cathedral. You can find the entrance to the lift for the "Fast Track Lift Ticket option" in the south ("South Lift"). Both lifts take you to the same height, with the waiting time being a bit shorter at the southern lift. This is especially recommended in the summer months, when the waiting times at the regular elevator can be longer. However, keep in mind that the descent must be made on foot - the lift tickets can only be used for the ascent.
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Enjoy the sunsetAt about 45m (147.6 ft) height, you will enjoy a wonderful view over the skyline of Milan, in clear weather, even beyond the Alps! On this unique rooftop landscape, you can admire the cathedral's gigantic sculptures from close quarters right above the roofs of Milan. Especially at sunset, this is an unforgettable experience!
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Get a special ticketEnjoy breathtaking sunsets and experience the unique night lighting on the cathedral's terraces with the Terraces Evening Opening Ticket. This ticket is available from June 5 to September 12, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. With the Augmented Reality Experience, you can go on a fascinating 45-minute journey through time and experience the cathedral and the archaeological area from a new perspective. This experience is available Monday to Saturday from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM and Sunday from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. If you are interested in classical music, consider the Summer Night Open-Air Concert in front of the Milan Cathedral, which takes place every June - it's best to buy tickets right after they go on sale, as they sell out quickly.
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You should also...pay attention to appropriate clothing when visiting the cathedral. It is proper to wear tops that cover the shoulders. Trousers and skirts should at least be knee-length. Male visitors are asked to remove their headgear. To participate in a service, use the cathedral's side doors. Here, at least three services take place daily, which can be attended for free.
At the top of the terrace | Photo: Flickr, Amanda Slater - CC BY-SA 2.0

A church of superlatives – the history of Milan Cathedral

The Duomo di Milano (Italian: Duomo di Milano or Basilica cattedrale metropolitana di Santa Maria Nascente) is the largest cathedral in Italy, excluding Vatican City, and one of the largest churches worldwide. It has a capacity of up to 40,000 people at once and is adorned with over 3,000 statues. Its completion took almost 600 years.

The long genesis

The construction of the cathedral began in 1386 on the site of a former Roman temple and would stretch over several centuries. Although the cathedral's main altar was consecrated in 1418 by Pope Martin V., the towers were far from finished. Even when Bishop Karl Borromäus consecrated the entire building in 1572, parts of the facade were still missing.

78 Architects

As Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo began the construction of the Milan Cathedral with the support of Lord Gian Galeazzo Visconti, he invited 78 architects and numerous court architects to participate in the building of the cathedral. This included Leonardo da Vinci, who, however, withdrew his design. Instead, the impressive work was undertaken by Amadeo and Dolce Buono. Due to a lack of financial resources and lack of funding from political channels, the cathedral today has a medieval nave in the shape of a cross, but it also exhibits many stylistic inconsistencies, indicating influences of Gothic Revival and early Baroque. Opting for the internationally acclaimed Gothic style was unusual at the time in the Italian Church State but reflected the project leaders' ambition to look beyond national borders.
The towers of the cathedral dominate the Piazza del Duomo | Photo: Unsplash, Alexander Liu

The completion of the cathedral

When Napoleon was crowned King of Italy in 1805, he ordered the continuation of the construction work on Milan Cathedral. He claimed that the French would reimburse the costs of the project, but this never happened. The main part of the cathedral was completed in 1813, and Napoleon was depicted on one of the spires with his image. However, the construction work on the cathedral was far from over. Several statues on the south side of the cathedral and the expressive stained glass windows, which still impress visitors today, followed. The last gate was not completed until 1965, almost 600 years after the start of construction in 1386. This was partly due to the Second World War, during which the cathedral was severely damaged. In 1986, the cathedral's organ was also restored, the largest instrument of its kind in Italy, with over 15,000 pipes.
The Madonnina of the Milan Cathedral | Photo: Unsplash, Ayadi Ghaith

The golden symbol of Milan

On one of the towers rises the golden Madonnina. It is considered as 'the symbol' of the city. In the revolutionary year 1848, the Italian flag was hoisted on it, which is said to have led to victory against the Austrian troops. Whoever looks up to the Cathedral from the 17th to the 22nd of March in Milan can see the 'Tricolore' (the flag of Italy) in the grasp of the golden Madonnina. This tradition is repeated several times a year.

Numbers and Facts

About 100,000 people visit the Cathedral of Milan each week. With a total area of about 12,000m² (129,167 sqft), a facade width of (201.78 ft), and a height of 56m (183.7 ft), it can accommodate up to 40,000 people. It is the fifth largest cathedral worldwide and even the oldest among them. There are 135 towers, each crowned with a biblical figure. Thus, the cathedral set a new standard and has the most pinnacles. Pinnacles are slender, pointed towers carved out of stone. The American writer Mark Twain, who visited the Cathedral in Milan during his many travels, was so fascinated by his visit to the cathedral in 1867 that he called the building a "wonder".

The Restoration Process

Today, the focus of the work on the Milan Cathedral is less on completing new elements, but rather on the careful restoration of the existing ones. The organization Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo bears the responsibility for the maintenance of this impressive building.
The statue of Bartholomew | Photo: Flickr, Gary Campbell-Hall - CC BY 2.0

Highlights in Milan Cathedral

A MUST for art history and architecture fans - this imposing Gothic cathedral in Piazza del Duomo! It offers numerous art-historical highlights, including the largest collection of statues in a cathedral worldwide - over 3,150 pieces.

3400 sculptures in the cathedral: Bartholomew stands out

Among the 3400 statues you will see inside the cathedral, there are also those of Saint Bartholomew. He was one of the 12 Apostles and died a painful, excruciating death. The statue presents him with a draped cloth around his body, which is meant not to represent fabric, but his own skin, as he was traditionally believed to have been skinned alive.

Details, everywhere you look - the facade

In total, over 2,000 sculptures and finials decorate the exterior walls of the cathedral. The finials are slender, pointed towers carved out of stone, particularly known from Gothic architecture. Among the many statues, there is also a representation of Napoleon, dedicated to him in gratitude for funding the completion of the church. Another statue, considered an inspiration for the Statue of Liberty in America, holds a cross in its hand instead of a book, alongside a crown and torch.
The view from the terraces | Photo: Unsplash, Chris Barbalis

High up on the roof terraces

On the rooftop terraces of the Cathedral, you can enjoy a view all the way to the Alps on clear days, but almost always a magnificent panorama over Milan and can admire the details of the artfully designed spires (Guglie). 158 steps lead to the Cathedral's roof, some of them in tight spirals with low ceilings. On hot days, it is therefore recommended to use the elevator, best with a ticket for the fast elevator "South Lift". When climbing, you first reach the first level about 31m (101.7 ft) above the ground. From there, you wind along the wall to the next staircase, which leads you to the highest viewpoint, the Central Terrace. This is located at 45m (147.6 ft) height and occupies about the interior area of the main nave.

Extra Tip:
Since you will need some time to ascend and descend to the terraces, you should definitely take a small water bottle and in the warm summer months a head covering.

The excavation sites of the 'Battistero di San Giovanni alle Fonti' | Photo: Flickr: Dimitris Kamaras - CC BY 2.0

Hidden Treasures of Milan Cathedral

The Milan Cathedral also houses a multitude of historical and art historical treasures. Inside the Cathedral, there are two special places worth visiting: The archaeological sites of the Battistero di San Giovanni alle Fonti and the octagonal chapel Scurolo di San Carlo in the crypt. Here, you can expect to find remnants of the early Christian baptistery and the final resting place of Saint Karl Borromäus. In the crypt, you can also admire the Cathedral treasury. The archaeological complex under the Cathedral also includes numerous ancient churches and sites, such as the Basilica Vetus, the baptistry of Santo Stefano alle fonti, the Basilica di Santa Tecla, and the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

The holy nail

According to tradition, within the wall of the Cathedral Church above the altar is one of the nails used for the crucifixion of Jesus - this spot is marked with a red light bulb. Once a year, on a Saturday close to September 14th, the Archbishop of Milan rises to a special ritual: He retrieves the nail in a wooden basket adorned with angels, called Nivola, from the height. This tradition, which dates back to the 16th century, bears the name of the basket, not the nail itself. Nivola is the Lombard word for cloud and describes the floating movement of the basket, which is raised to the top of the church with a pulley system. Some historians believe that Leonardo da Vinci designed the basket.

Note:
To visit the Rito della Nivola, separate tickets must be purchased.

The imposing outer facade | Photo: Flickr, Gary Campbell-Hall - CC BY 2.0

What you didn't know about the Cathedral

Impress your fellow travelers with insider knowledge that not everyone knows!

Music secret tip for Lent

The musical performances by the Cappella Musicale del Duomo di Milano during Lent saison are characterized by both tradition and innovation. Active continuously since 1402, Europe's oldest cultural institution invites you to a special musical journey with premieres from the Ambrosian repertoire and the Renaissance. These performances enrich the Sunday liturgies at the Cathedral and set the tone for Easter. An experience that you should not miss during your Cathedral visit in Lent!

Summer night concert at Piazza del Duomo

The annual Summer Night Open-Air Concert takes place in front of Milan Cathedral in June and delights classical music lovers. The Orchestra of La Scala in Milan provides an unforgettable open-air sound experience. Since tickets for the summer night concert are very popular and quickly sold out, you should buy them as soon as they go on sale.

Extra Tip:
If you missed the summer night concert, you can attend one of the smaller concerts that also take place in the main square in front of the cathedral throughout the year.

A concert of the 'Filarmonica della Scala' in front of the Milan Cathedral | Photo: Unsplash, Babak Habibi

Adopt a statue

With the "Adopt a Statue" project, the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo invites people to become part of the history of this unique building. Statues that adorn the Cathedral and tell stories are given the chance for comprehensive restoration through the support of individuals and companies. Along with the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to preserving the Cathedral, the project offers the unique chance to borrow a statue after restoration for exhibitions in and around Milan, thus carrying the history of the Cathedral to new places.
The Piazza del Duomo together with the light show | Photo: Unsplash, Getty Images

Natural lighting spectacle

Since the EXPO 2015, the interior of Milan Cathedral has been lit with energy-efficient LEDs. Since then, powerful LED exterior lights have also been installed, which mimic natural lighting at night. The idea came from lighting designer Pietro Palladino, who wanted to spotlight the cathedral.

From bricks to marble - a journey through the 'Navigli' canals

Originally, it was planned to construct the Milan Cathedral from terracotta bricks. However, during the building process, it was realized that the bricks could neither withstand the size nor the mass. Therefore, the cathedral was built from distinctive, pinkish, Italian marble. To transport the marble to the building site, the Navigli canals were specially constructed, which extend as a water network over the entire city. Should you have enough time, take a closer look at this. In this way, you can get an even closer idea of the incredible process of the mega-construction. Even today, the Navigli play an important role in the irrigation system of agriculture.

A ray of sunlight

Entering the main entrance of the cathedral, one notices the thin brass strip on the floor that breaks through the intricately decorated pattern of the floor. At noon, a ray of sunlight shines through a small hole in the wall of Milan Cathedral and hits this meridian line on the floor. This unassuming construction is still one of the most accurate sundials in the world today, bearing witness to the knowledge and skill of the astronomers of the Brera Observatory.

Nothing can be taller than the Madonnina

On the highest church tower is located at 108m (354.3 ft) height the 4.16m (13.6 ft) tall, gilded statue made of copper plates of the Virgin Mary, called Madonnina. Milan has a long tradition that says the Madonnina should be the highest point in the city and no building is allowed to exceed its height. This tradition was put to the test, however, when the first skyscraper was to be built in 1950. The solution was quickly found: A copy of the Madonnina was made and placed on the new building. Then, when a taller building followed in 2010, the statue was promptly moved to this building.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Milan Cathedral accessible for people with disabilities?

Except for the highest viewpoint, the Cathedral is accessible for people with disabilities. Wheelchair users can therefore only reach up to the penultimate level of the rooftop terraces and should use the Fast-Track elevator ("South Lift"). Assistance dogs are permitted. Read more.

Are strollers allowed in the Cathedral?

Strollers are allowed in Milan Cathedral, however, they are not allowed on the rooftop terraces. Read more.

Is an audio guide available?

In some tickets, the recommended audio guide is available in the languages Chinese, German, English, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Read more.

Where do the services take place?

The services take place in the chancel behind the main altar, which is not visible from the nave. So if you want to experience the church in all its glory, you need to get a ticket. Read more.

When do services occur?

From Monday to Friday, the Celebration of the Eucharist is held at 7:00 am, 8:00 am, 8:30 am (in the crypt), 11:00 am, and 5:30 pm. The rosary is prayed at 5:00 pm. On Saturdays, the Eucharistic Celebrations take place at 8:30 am (in the crypt) and at 9:30 am. The Vigil Mass is celebrated at 5:30 pm on the high altar. On Sundays and public holidays, the Eucharist is celebrated at 7:00 am, 8:00 am, 9:30 am, 11:00 am (in Latin), 12:30 pm, and 5:30 pm. The morning praise takes place at 10:30 am, and there are Vespers and Eucharistic blessing at 4:30 pm. The entrances for the service are located at the side doors of the cathedral (Martini/Arcivescovado and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II). Read more.

Can I also make my confession in the cathedral?

Confession and reconciliation are available from Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Sundays and public holidays from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm. However, mass, prayer, and confession times may vary, further information can be found here. Read more.

Are bags and backpacks allowed during the visit?

Large bags and backpacks, as well as other large items, are prohibited in the cathedral. Bag checks are conducted before entering the cathedral. Please note that there are no storage facilities available on-site. Read more.

Can photos and videos be taken during the visit?

Videos and photos for personal use can be taken without a tripod and flash. Read more.

General information

opening hours

The Main Entrance of the Duomo di Milano is open daily from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM, with the last admission at 6:00 PM. The terraces are accessible from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM regularly, with the Evening Opening Ticket you can visit the terraces until 10:00 PM. Believers can use the side entrances of the Cathedral (Piazza del Duomo, Via Card. Martini / Arcivescovado -side) from 7:00 AM to 8:30 AM and from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM (last entry at 6:10 PM) through the very northern entrance (Piazza del Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II -side) daily. The museum is open from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM and is closed on Wednesdays.

address

Duomo di Milano
Piazza Duomo 14/a
20122 Milan

website

Official site: https://www.duomomilano.it/

tickets

The Culture Pass for the Cathedral includes the visit to the Cathedral, the Museum, the Scurolo di San Carlo Chapel, the archaeological sites, and the nearby San Gottardo in Corte Church. Adults pay 12 €, children between 6 and 18 years of age pay 6 €. Children under 5 have free entry. Separate tickets are required for all other areas. The crypt and the archaeological site each cost 3 €. Access to the terrace is available on foot for 14 € (reduced 7 €) or by lift for 16 € (reduced 8 €), the Fast Track Lift Ticket costs 26 € (reduced 13 €). The Terraces Evening Opening Ticket costs 16 € (reduced 8 €) and is available from June 5 to September 12.

how to get there

Milan Cathedral can be reached via metro to the Duomo stop (lines 1 and 3), tram to the Torino/Duomo stop (lines 2, 3, or 14) or Dogana/Duomo (line 24). Bus lines 54, 60, 65, 73, and Z602 also stop close to the cathedral.
Miriam Dewam
Written byMiriam DewamMiriam is keen on traveling and has a passion for photography, which she can enhance through her cross-media studies. She uses her knowledge as well as first hand experience from diverse travels to help other travellers as a content creator at TicketLens.
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