Upon careful examination of this antique photograph, one detail immediately grabs our attention: the Duomo's doors are not the majestic bronze structures that we know so well, but rather simple doors on which shreds of old posters are still visible.
It's difficult to imagine a monument such as Milan's cathedral without a fittingly majestic entryway, yet at the time that this photo was taken, towards the end of the 19th century, this is what the five entrances looked like to anyone walking through the square.
The addition of the current doors is actually relatively recent, dating between 1909 and 1965, despite the fact that they were included in Pellegrino Tibaldi's original 16th century design for the facade.
The so-called Pogliaghi door, dedicated to the Virgin, was the first to be completed, thanks to the legacy of the illustrious Count Mellerio who left a substantial sum to the Fabbrica, to be used entirely for the works necessary for the completion of the facade.
The Minerbi, Castiglioni, and Lombardi doors were built later, dedicated to the beginnings of Milanese Christianity, to the life of Saint Ambrose, and to the church of Milan's contribution to the creation of the free city and the crusades, respectively.
The inauguration of the final door, the Minguzzi door, dedicated to the Duomo's splendours, was seen by the people of the city as the completion of a project spanning six centuries and, at the same time, as the beginning of a new and extremely long chapter yet to be written, that of the ongoing restorations and of the Cathedral's future.