The Milan Duomo and Teatre La Scala

Day 54, Saturday October 28, 2017

On our way to the Duomo we come across a fashion photo shoot. This rather strange man with the oversized sweater and furry slippers was giving the model directions on what to do. He was very bossy!The Milano Duomo, or the Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente, is one of the largest Gothic Churches in the world. It is very impressive.The view looking towards the altar. 
It is a bit overwhelming, placing my hands where so many other hands have worn the stone smooth and shiny over the centuries. There are 52 of these massive pillars.The stained glass windows are stunning, especially these ones behind the altar.I thought this sculpture was rather unusual. It is Saint Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles, who was flayed alive and then beheaded. He is carrying his own skin!Looking down one of the side aisles. This church is very big!This is a copy of the Madonna of the Duomo. The original is on the highest point of the church.
There are many large paintings hanging in the church. Many of them look as though they need restoration work.Each of the pillars is topped by an ornately carved capital, and each one is unique.We go into the crypt of St. Charles Borromeo who lies in a crystal coffin below the altar. We  also visit the archeological area which was excavated under the plaza in front of the Duomo. The black and white photo shows an aerial view of the excavations before they were covered by a new plaza.Then we climb 250 steps up to the roof top terraces for a close up view of some of the churches 135 spires!The flying buttresses are beautiful as well as functional. This church is decorated with 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles, and 700 figures in the marble reliefs, There are decorations everywhere, each one different from the rest. We were thrilled with this visit to the rooftop, but then…we discover that we get to climb even higher, to the very top of the church, 75 meters above the ground below! You can see the golden Madonna statue above us.The views are amazing but it is a bit hazy which is too bad. Apparently on a clear day you can see the Alps in the distance.Looking down at part of the plaza in front of the Duomo. Soon it is time to return the ground far below.This lion looks rather annoyed at all the pigeons who are perched all over him.We walk through the Vittorio Emanuele II Galleria which is lined with high fashion designer stores…on our way to the Teatro La Scala where we get to watch a little bit of a rehearsal, and then we visit the Theatre’s museum.The second floor of the museum is dedicated to Maria Callas and displays many of the beautiful costumes she wore while performing.Back to the Duomo for a couple more photos. Here I am in front of part of the incredible front door.The plaza in front of the church is a gathering place for tourists and locals alike.To really appreciate the size of the Milan Duomo you need to see a three-quarter view of the building..Next stop is the Duomo Museum, which has many of the original sculptures from the church.  They are slowly being replaced by copies so that the originals can be preserved.This room was incredible! The brown sculptures are terra cotta studies for marble sculptures.I love gargoyles so I was delighted to get a close up view of these before we leave the museum and head home.We have been exploring for 8 hours today and we are both tired.

Gargoyles and Chimeras

Today was the day to climb to the top of Notre Dame!  It is 400 steps to the top and another 400 to get down, and it was worth each and every step! While I was waiting in line, for an hour, I took some pictures of gargoyles from the ground.

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I need to warn you, there will be a lot of pictures in today’s post, and I am only going to do the first part of the day, or this would be ridiculously long.

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The climb up wasn’t too bad as it was broken half way at a shop where you buy tickets.  Soon I am 46 meters above the ground and face to face with my first Chimera.  These are ornamental sculptures which are depictions of monsters or mythical beings.  This Stryga, or bird of the night, is one of the most famous of Notre Dames chimeras.  Interestingly the stone these carvings are made from is full of sea shells!  You can see Sacre Coeur in the distance.

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You probably aren’t supposed to pet them, but I just had to!

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The view from up here is quite spectacular.  I am in the area between the two towers.

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And there are more chimeras and gargoyles everywhere I look!

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There were windows that were too high to look into, but I held the camera up to the glass and this is what was inside.

image After another 150 steps I am at the top of the south tower of Notre Dame and the view is even more incredible from this height, 69 meters above the ground.  Here is a different view of Notre Dame’s famous flying buttresses.

imageimageIt is easy to understand how densely populated Paris is when you see all the buildings so close together from up here. The population density of Paris ranges from a low of 8,000 people per square kilometre, in areas near Notre Dame, for example, to a density of 42,000 people per square kilometre in the area where my apartment is and other arrondissements in the north and north west of Paris.  I can barely fathom 42,000 people living in a square kilometre!

imageimageThere are sculptures everywhere I look. Dragons on this steeple,

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and more gargoyles high on this tower.

image I manage to stay up on the top of the South tower while three or four groups come up, they allow a group every ten minutes or so, but eventually we all get chased off so the next group can arrive, so I head down the 400 stairs to the bottom.  On arriving at ground level I look up, and surprise!  More gargoyles!

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I was on the walkway between the two towers, and on the top of the south tower.  If you look closely you can see people in these two pictures.

imageimageThe average visit is 50 minutes, I am up here for over two hours!  It was an amazing experience!