Entering the main square in Milan from the subway station below you are awestruck by the beauty of the cathedral in front of you. It is an absolutely elaborate cathedral and a wonderful display of Gothic architecture. 700 years in the making the cathedral was finally completed in the mid 1700s and has been a major tourist attraction to the city recently although it still offers several daily services for the people of Milan and you must be a parishioner to enter certain areas of the church during certain times.
The Milan Cathedral – Milan, Italy
Mark Twain is much more eloquent with his explanation of the Milan Cathedral than I could ever be. From his book – The Innocents Abroad:
Howsoever you look at the great cathedral, it is noble, it is beautiful! Wherever you stand in Milan or within seven miles of Milan, it is visible and when it is visible, no other object can chain your whole attention. Leave your eyes unfettered by your will but a single instant and they will surely turn to seek it. It is the first thing you look for when you rise in the morning, and the last your lingering gaze rests upon at night. Surely it must be the princeliest creation that ever brain of man conceived.
At nine o’clock in the morning we went and stood before this marble colossus. The central one of its five great doors is bordered with a bas-relief of birds and fruits and beasts and insects, which have been so ingeniously carved out of the marble that they seem like living creatures–and the figures are so numerous and the design so complex that one might study it a week without exhausting its interest. On the great steeple–surmounting the myriad of spires–inside of the spires–over the doors, the windows–in nooks and corners–every where that a niche or a perch can be found about the enormous building, from summit to base, there is a marble statue, and every statue is a study in itself! Raphael, Angelo, Canova–giants like these gave birth to the designs, and their own pupils carved them. Every face is eloquent with expression, and every attitude is full of grace. Away above, on the lofty roof, rank on rank of carved and fretted spires spring high in the air, and through their rich tracery one sees the sky beyond. In their midst the central steeple towers proudly up like the mainmast of some great Indiaman among a fleet of coasters.
His description goes on for much longer in the 18th chapter of that book. You can read the full chapter here on the Classic Literature site of About.com