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Learn About the Fascinating Statue of the Madonnina of the Duomo Milan

MilanDuomo Milan Madonnina Statue

What’s the Madonnina?

The Madonnina is a statue of the Virgin Mary situated on the highest spire of the Duomo Milan Cathedral. Erected in 1774 and designed by Giuseppe Perego, this gold-gilded monument of the Madonna Assunta (the Assumption of Mary) is regarded as an important religious and civic symbol by the people of Milan. Learn all about this fascinating structure and the history of its construction here.

Madonnina | Quick Facts

Duomo Milan - Madonnina

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

Why Visit the Madonnina?

Duomo Milan - Madonnina

How Can I see the Madonnina?

Duomo Milan - Madonnina

Highlights of the Madonnina

Statue of Madonnina

The Statue

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.

Statue of Madonnina repair

Repair and Restorations

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.

Statue of Madonnina with flag

Flag Wrapping

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.

Replicas of the Madonnina

Replicas of the Madonnina

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.

History of The Madonnina In a Nutshell

History of The Madonnina In a Nutshell

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. 

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The Madonnina Today | Influence & Significance

The Madonnina stands tall even today and serves as a symbol of faith and hope for Milan. Its image and design are widely used in merchandise and souvenirs, cementing its influence in the city's culture. Despite its several restorations, the original statue retains its original form and significance. It has survived several wars, uprisings, and regimes yet remains unscathed and still crowns the Milan skyline.  

All Your Questions About The Madonnina Answered

Q. Do I need tickets to see the Madonnina?

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.

Q. Can I view the Madonnina with Duomo Milan tickets?

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.

Q. Who designed the Madonnina?

The design for the Madonnina was originally conceptualized through terracotta models by Giuseppe Perego.

Q. When was the Madonnina completed?

The Madonnina was completed in the year 1773 and erected on the Great Spire in 1774.

Q. What materials were used to construct the Madonnina?

The materials used in the construction of the Madonnina were gold, copper, and iron. These materials have been replaced over the years through restoration.

Q. How tall is the Madonnina?

The Madonnina is a life-size statue that measures 4.16 meters in height.

Q. Do I have to follow a dress code to enter Duomo Milan rooftop?

A. There is no specific dress code, but modest attire is required to enter the Duomo Milan.

Q. Where is the Madonnina located?

A. You can get to the rooftop by using the staircase located on the south side of the cathedral, or by using the lift.

Q. How many steps are there to climb to view the Madonnina?

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.

Q. At what time can we see the Madonnina?

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.

Q. What view can be seen from the top of Duomo Milan?

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.