The Duomo of Milan is the largest Gothic structure in Italy. It was started in 1386 under the guidance of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, although the architect that designed it remains unknown. The works came under the direction of some of the best French and German masters. As of the early fifteenth century the works were superintended by Filippo degli Organi, Solari and Amedeo, followed by Pellegrini, L. Buzzi, Bassi and C. Buzzi. In the years from 1765 to 1769 the spire was raised and surmounted with a statue of the Madonna, reaching 108.50 metres in height. It was not until the beginning of the nineteenth century that the façade was completed and only in 1858 were all the spires erected.
The magnificence of the building is accentuated by its skywards pointing structure which is lost at the top amongst the many spires (135 in all) and the proliferation of statues (2,254 in total), which populate its sides and pinnacles.
The lower part of the façade is Baroque in style (built following the designs of Pellegrini), but changes into the Gothic style in the upper reaches. Of the five sixteenth century doorways four have modern bronze doors. The first is by Minerbi and depicts the Edict of Constantine, the second is by Castiglioni and depicts the life of Saint Ambrogio, the third is by Pagliaghi showing the life of the Virgin Mary and the fourth by Lombardi recounting the history of Milan.