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What is a Spire?

The profile of the Duomo that stands the city and makes it unique, is characterized by its 135 spires.

The spire is a typical element of Gothic architecture. Oldest spires are of moderate height, not slim, compact and sturdy, and only towards the end of the 12th century gradually they became sharp in the form and elaborate in the decoration.

Only the Duomo of Milan has a large number of spires, one hundred and thirty-five. They rise not only in the foothills around the perimeter, but also on the pylons or lantern, where it crowns the Main Spire, the one of the Virgin Mary. Most of the peaks are 17 m high and are rich in decoration, statuary niches and tunnels.

Spires in literature

“In Milan, in spite of weariness, we climbed up to the roof of the Duomo and there amused ourselves with the fine population of figures of that eye-catching marble garden.
Hermann Hesse, 1903 

“A marvel of gothic art, white, dazzling, bristling with slender spires, like pieces of ice fallen from the Alps.” Vicente Blasco Ibanez, 1896

“I climb’d the roofs at break of day sun-smitten Alps before me lay. I stood among the silent statues, and statued pinnacles, mute as they. How faintly-flush’d, how phantom-fair, was Monte Rosa, hanging there a thousand shadowy-pencill’d valleys/and snowy dells in a golden air.”
Alfred Tennyson, 1855

“In the midnight moonshine all the white stone-men come thronging solemnly adown from their height, and sweep together over the place and whisper an old legend in our ear.”
Heinrich Heine, 1826