“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
There are 135 spires adorning the external structure of the Duomo, making 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 first spire, which is located on the Northern flank of the Cathedral was completed in 1404 and is dedicated to Marco Carelli, a rich Milanese merchant who bequeathed his entire fortune to the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano.
Over the centuries chemical, physical, and biological agents have damaged the Duomo's marble. Continuous restoration interventions are therefore necessary not only to preserve the spires, but the monument as a whole, which is almost entirely built in Canodglia marble.
Today, the marble workers operate in a laboratory where scientific research, technological innovation and tradition are woven together to find new and better ways to preserve the Cathedral. In 2014 alone, The Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano opened 18 restoration sites for the Duomo, resulting in over 100,000 hours of restoration per year.