Location: Duomo Cathedral Milan
Designer: Giuseppe Perego
Construction Start Date: 1769
Completion Date: 1773
Erected In: 1774
Materials Used: Iron, Copper, Steel, and Gold
Height: 4.16 m
Number of gold sheets used in gilding: 6750
The Madonnina is a representation of the Virgin Mary's assumption into heaven. It features a gold-gilded Mary looking upward to the heavens with stars encircling her head. The Madonnina consists of a hollowed-out copper mold with a steel framework on the inside. The mold was created using a wooden model carved by Giuseppe Antignanti against which counter-form copper plates were shaped to give its metallic design. The copper sheets are gilded with 6750 sheets of pure gold.
Great effort is taken to ensure that the golden sheen of the Madonnina is not lost. It was in 1939 that people first noticed that the statue no longer sparkled in the sky. A regilding was ordered and was performed mid-air, a hundred meters above the ground. In 1967, due to corrosion of the original iron framework, a scaffolding was hoisted in the air to help workers replace it with a stainless steel one. This restoration of 1967 involved the removal of the copper sheets, regilding, and reassembly. The last regilding of the Madonnina was done in 2012 when the great Great Spire was also restored.
The statue is not just a religious idol but a symbol of civic significance. In 1848, during the 'Five Days' rebellion, the Italian tricolor was raised on the statue to signal the evacuation of Austrian troops from the city. The tricolor is still hoisted on important days including the Feast of the Tricolor, Labour Day, Republic day, and the Five days of Milan between the 18th and 22nd of March. The statue is very dear to the people of Milan and is the subject of Milanese folk songs.
The statue is so beloved that several institutions have demanded replicas of the Madonnina be placed in their buildings. A few examples are the Pirelli Building, the Palazzo Lombardia, and the Allianz Tower of Milan. A 1:1 scale copy of the Madonnina was commissioned by Veneranda Fabbrica (the organization that constructed the Duomo Milan), in a project called “La Protezione” so that worshippers can pray to and contemplate the statue. It is presently exhibited in the courtyard between the church of San Gottardo and the Duomo Museum.
The idea of a Virgin Mary statue placed on a central spire was conceived by architect Cesare Cesariano in 1521. In 1762, the architect Francesco Croce took Cesariano's idea and proposed a statue of the Virgin Mary ascending to heaven with the assistance of Angels to be erected on the Great Spire.
The sculptor Giuseppe Perego was commissioned by the Veneranda Fabbrica in 1769 to create terracotta models to select from. After its selection, Guiseppe Antignati carved the structure on which the goldsmith Giuseppe Bini molded the copper sheets. This outer structure was then placed on an iron framework made by Giovan Battista. The first structure was gilded with 156 booklets of gold.
The statue was completed in 1773 and erected on the Great Spire in 1774. In 1939, the Madonnina was covered in a green cloth for five years so as to not attract the attention of aerial bombers during the Second World War.
Yes, you will require rooftop access to the Duomo Milan to see the Madonnina. This can be purchased separately with a Milan Duomo: Rooftop Access Ticket.
Yes, you can view the Madonnina with tickets to the Duomo Milan. However, you must ensure that rooftop access is a feature of those tickets.
The design for the Madonnina was originally conceptualized through terracotta models by Giuseppe Perego.
The Madonnina was completed in the year 1773 and erected on the Great Spire in 1774.
The materials used in the construction of the Madonnina were gold, copper, and iron. These materials have been replaced over the years through restoration.
The Madonnina is a life-size statue that measures 4.16 meters in height.
A. There is no specific dress code, but modest attire is required to enter the Duomo Milan.
A. You can get to the rooftop by using the staircase located on the south side of the cathedral, or by using the lift.
There are 250 stairs in total. The first 170 stairs will get you to the rooftop, after which there are 50 more stairs you need to ascend to reach the central terrace.
The Madonnina can be during the rooftop timings of the Duomo Milan which is between 9 AM and 7 PM. The last entry for rooftop access is 6 PM.
From the rooftop of the Duomo Milan, you can see intricate spires and statues. You will also get a chance to see the golden statue of the Madonnina.