Date: 1386 (new cathedral begun), 1418 (high altar consecrated), late fifteenth century (west facade and cupola completed)
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Italy
Description: Milan, the old Tetrarchic capital and city of St. Ambrose, initiated construction of an ambitious new cathedral dedicated to Mary in 1386. It became one of the longest and tallest churches in the world (157 m long, 45 m high). Unlike most local buildings, which were made of brick, the cathedral was built of pink marble from Alpine quarries. An international competition debated how traditional and "modern" tastes and building methods could be harmonized. The result was an iteration of the Gothic style, with tall pinnacles and flying buttresses. Construction stalled after 1418, when the high altar was consecrated, and at the end of the fifteenth century architects completed the west facade of the basilica in a new, neoclassical style, with pediments and pilasters. The architecturally challenging ribbed octagonal dome over the crossing of the nave and transept was also completed at that time. Nevertheless, the cathedral remained incomplete for centuries, reflecting Milan's changing fortunes.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 11
Image Credits: Navid Jamali; Wikimedia Commons
Tags: Works in textbook, Christian, Western European, Access to the sacred, Artistic production, Status and identity