“Towards dusk we drew near Milan and caught glimpses of the city […]
We were dying to see the renowned Cathedral! […] What wonder it is! So
grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy so graceful! ”
The Innocents Abroad
San Francisco, 1869
The profile of the Duomo, characterized by its 135 spires and pinnacles, is the best-known symbol of Milan and it makes the Cathedral instantly recognizable for its very unique silhouette. Indeed, the spires are perhaps the most peculiar and fragile architectural elements of the Duomo di Milano, each one adorned with a Saint or symbolic figure.
The oldest spire of the Duomo was constructed in 1404, crowning the corner buttress of the sacristy to the north and is dedicated to the memory of Marco Carelli, benefactor of the Duomo and “father” of all the Veneranda Fabbrica donors.
The spire is a typically Gothic architectural feature, roughly a pyramid with octagonal base, which became gradually more complicated and pointed between the middle of the 12th century and the end of the 13th century, reflecting an increasingly detailed knowledge of the laws of statics and the structure of materials.