St. John the Baptist - The Cathedral of Monza

‘Il Duomo’, dedicated to San Giovanni Battista (John the Baptist), is the town’s most important monument. The present building stands on the site where, around the year 595, Queen Theodelinda built a basilica. According to a medieval legend, Queen Theodelinda chose the site because it was indicated to her, in a dream, by a dove: the joining of the words ‘Modo’ (here) and ‘Etiam’ (yes) – spoken respectively by the dove and Theodelinda – gave origin to the ancient name of the town, Modoetia.

Built as a royal chapel, the church survived until 1300, when it was felt that renovation was needed: work on the new basilica began on 31st May 1300. The total reconstruction took place in two stages. The first ended in 1346 with the consecration of the high altar: the building was in Latin cross shape, with three aisles, projecting transept, flat apse and three-section façade crossed with lines of black and white marble. The side chapels and two large symmetrical polygonal chapels in the apse area were built at a later date, in the second half of the 14th century, under the supervision of the architect and sculptor Matteo da Campione (d. 1396), who also widened the façade and added a pulpit and a baptistery (now lost).

The itinerary includes:

  • Piazza Duomo
  • The Porch and the Façade
  • The Bell Tower
  • Interior of the Duomo
  • Capel of Queen Teodolinda
  • The Iron Crown
  • Museum and Treasure of the Duomo