Home > 2011 Posts > The Spires of Heaven

The Spires of Heaven

Milan’s cathedral is a unique sight from the ground. It’s even more special when you see it from the roof.

An HDR Shot of Milan's Cathedral

Begun in the 1300’s and finished 500 years later, this huge, lacy-spired, gothic structure is a true song to god in stone, and a wondrous anomaly among Milan’s medieval and modern sights. Also among the marvelous works of art that are Italy’s other venerable churches.

Walking up out of the Metro stop onto the broad Piazza del Duomo, you are struck by this building’s difference from other great cathedrals. It’s all white, and its fine, slender lines carry your eye up to more than 130 spectacular spires. Most other great churches draw one’s eye to perceive them as a lovely, often colorful, orchestrated whole. This architectural sculpture grabs your eye and tosses it up toward God.

The spiritual impact is strong, even for an agnostic like me. Perhaps seeing the ever-ascending interior of the Royal Chapel at Versailles on a sunny day or standing in the nave of St. Peter’s may approach the feel that the exterior of Milan’s duomo engenders, but then again, perhaps not.

An HDR Shot of the Roof

I was duly appreciative of the artful interior, and moved by the beautiful exterior, but I was amazed during my walk on the roof. Being in the midst of that soaring stonework was a wholly new experience on many levels. As an engineer, I marveled at how such fragile-looking things could be made of stone. As a person, I was proud that thousands of other dedicated people could create something so marvelous over so many centuries. And in my heart, what I saw affected me in a way that no other piece of architecture has. It gently tugged at the elbow of my spirit and guided it up with the spires toward… something better. Much better.

My time on that roof in Milan showed me as clearly as anything has why I could never be an atheist. And, though I can’t pretend to say that I know God’s mind, I’m sure that He has made note of what good, devoted people tried to express here.

It couldn’t be otherwise.

  1. Sukanya Ramanujan
    April 14, 2011 at 7:00 am

    They were doing maintenance work on the facade when I went to Milan about 4 years ago. Totally ruined the effect. Love the HDR shot of the roof!

    • April 14, 2011 at 7:16 am

      Thanks much! I can report that they did a top notch maintenance job. The facade looks naturally clean and the sculpture looks crisp, not as though everything has just been ‘scrubbed’.

  2. April 14, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Great shots! Your post made me miss the Duomo even more… Just like Sukanya, I LOVE your roof image. More power! 🙂

  1. April 15, 2011 at 7:04 am

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