History of Duomo di Milano (Part I) 18
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    By Senior Manager – Cost & Controls Eugene Chang


    The Milan Cathedral took nearly 600 years to be completed. Fueled by Milan's wealth, the prestigious cathedral, also known as Duomo di Milano, was construct from 1386 to 1965, and had captured some of the most extraordinary architecture elements during difference periods from Renaissance to Gothic, across power nations at the time from France to Italy. It is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, largest church in Italy and the third largest in the world.


    Situated at the center of the former capital of Western Roman Empire, Mediolanum (285-402), where a cathedral and a Basilica were once located in adjacency since 335 and 836, the new Cathedral was constructed over the previous buildings reminds after they were damaged by a fire in 1075. In 1386, Duke Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the new ruler of Milan, jointly decided with his cousin Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo to construct the new Cathedral as a reward to the noble and working classes and to demonstrate the new authorities was better than his predecessor Barnabò.


    Soon, the project first architect Simone Da Orsenigo had gathered 300 employees with the idea to build the cathedral from brick in Lombard Gothic Style. However, Visconti set his sight beyond the architect could offer. He wanted the church to match the newest trends in Europe architecture. In 1389, he had invited Nicolas De Bonaventure to work on the project, and as a result, introduced French-Rayonnant Gothic Style to the project. Visconti also took Bonaventure's advice to use Candoglia marble* instead of brick (which was the main material use in the previous buildings on the site). This required Orsenigo to employ professionals (engineers, architects, sculptors, stone cutters) with marble projects experience from Central Europe, and these collectively knowledge had influenced the unique style of the resulted cathedral for the years to come. However, the construction of the cathedral came to a halt only half completed, when Viscontil passed away in 1402.


    *note: The marble used for the Milan Cathedral is quarried at the foot of Candoglia village, in the municipality of Mergozzo, the Toce River and at the mouth of Val d'Ssola, and is exclusively dedicated for the construction and maintenance of the cathedral. Today, it is still owned by the builders of Milan Cathedral. While first record of quarrying in the area arises to the Roman age on a number of church projects, in 1387, Gian Galeazzo Visconti granted Veneranda Fabbrica exclusive use of the marble quarries of Candoglia for the construction of the Milan Cathedral, along with the right to use the water ways of Ticino River and the Naviglio, designed by Leondardo da Vinci years later, free of toll. The white Condoglia marble are pinkish to greyish and coarse-grained, and have been applied to all aspect of the cathedral from building blocks to ornaments. Because of the narrow vein of this marble makes extraction difficult and costly— only 10-25% of total amount quarried can be used even in today's modern technology.


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