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Five curiosities you may not know about the Milan Cathedral

The Milan Cathedral, officially the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the cathedral of the archdiocese of Milan and an Italian national monument.

It is the largest church in the Italian Republic and the second largest on the peninsula (St Peter's, in Rome, is technically in the Vatican State), the third largest in the world by surface area and the sixth largest by volume.

There is a lot of fascinating history and curiosities surrounding its walls, and there are also many curiosities that can be found by studying its birth, evolution and the art hidden inside and outside.

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Milan Cathedral: the five curiosities you may not know
The Milan Cathedral, officially the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the cathedral of the archdiocese of Milan and an Italian national monument. It is the largest church in the Italian Republic and the second largest on the peninsula (St Peter's, in Rome, is technically in the Vatican State), the third largest in the world by surface area and the sixth largest by volume. There is a lot of fascinating history and curiosities surrounding its walls, and there are also many curiosities that can be found by studying its birth, evolution and the art hidden inside and outside.
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The construction of the cathedral took six centuries
Churches of this size took several centuries, with additions and destructions, to complete throughout Europe. The official construction of the cathedral began in 1386 and was not completed until the 19th century, and saw the work of French and English architects and mathematicians, who brought their own influence to the church.
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The largest number of statues in the world
The Cathedral is the building with the highest number of statues in the world, no less than 3,400 arranged between spires, terraces and walls. Some of these statues depict not only personalities linked to Christianity. One can find sculptures of Arturo Toscanini, Dante Alighieri, Vittorio Emanuele III. Almost intruders compared to the sacred iconography found outside a sacred building.
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A cathedral that cleans itself
In the 1970s, when the square was opened to vehicle traffic, the façade was now completely black due to fine dust. A special anti-smog finish was therefore applied to the surface of the façade. This, activated by sunlight, self-cleans the stones of the building and also has the task of purifying the air of pollutants.
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Only church in the world with a fully walkable roof
Arriving at the top of the Cathedral, either on foot or by lift, you are confronted with 8000 square metres of terrace, representing the world's largest Gothic cathedral roof. A forest of spires to get lost in, thousands of details carved in marble open up like a book to be leafed through calmly and admired as you look up.
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One of the nails from Jesus' cross is preserved in the cathedral
Standing in the nave, look up to the ceiling of the apse: you can see a small red light in front of an enormous circular metal shape. It is the tabernacle embedded in the ceiling at a height of 40 metres that holds the relic of the Holy Nail, i.e. one of the nails used to crucify Jesus Christ.  The nail is removed from the reliquary and brought to the Cathedral altar only once a year, in September, thanks to one of the most evocative and curious ceremonies of Milanese tradition: the rite of the Nivola, in which a cloud-shaped 'lift' is used.
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