Dark Souls Fans, Visit The Destination In Europe That Inspired Anor Londo

For fans of the critically acclaimed video game Dark Souls, Anor Londo remains one of the most memorable locations within the game's vast, interconnected world. With towering spires, intricate architecture, and stunning grandeur, it captures the imagination and lingers long after the screen is turned off. Few might know that this digital creation draws heavy inspiration from a real-world marvel: Il Duomo di Santa Maria, located in Milan, Italy.

The Milan Cathedral, more commonly called Il Duomo, is one of the most magnificent examples of Gothic architecture. It is a must-see historic structure that took hundreds of years to build — construction began in 1386 and continued for almost 600 years, with sporadic additions spanning across different eras, including Neoclassical and Renaissance. It stands as the largest cathedral in Italy and one of the largest in the world at around 126,000 square feet.

Fans of Dark Souls will find the parallels between Anor Londo and Il Duomo striking. The cathedral's vast, vaulted interiors evoke the same sense of otherworldly beauty that defines Anor Londo. The exterior, with its 18th-century spires, flying buttresses, and 135 gargoyle statues, mirrors the intricate and layered design of Anor Londo.

Exploring the cathedral and its surroundings at Piazza del Duomo, one can almost hear the echoes of Dark Souls' haunting soundtrack, feel the weight of the game's lore, and perhaps even imagine encountering its formidable knights around the corner. The Milan Cathedral is also similar to where Ornstein and Smough live in the game. 

The Milan Cathedral in Italy

For those looking to embark on a Dark Souls pilgrimage, Milan offers much more than just the cathedral — the city itself provides a backdrop that complements the grandeur of Il Duomo. Visitors can climb to the rooftop of the cathedral for a panoramic view of the city, reminiscent of the sweeping vistas of Anor Londo. Inside the cathedral, with its nave stretching upwards to the heavens, is a space that feels both immense and intimate. Stained glass windows tell biblical stories with vibrant colors and intricate designs, while 3,400 sculptures and countless paintings add layers of artistic and spiritual depth. Don't miss the iconic "Madonnina" covered in 3,900 pieces of gold leaf. The cathedral can accommodate up to 40,000 visitors!

Beyond Il Duomo, Milan presents numerous opportunities to delve deeper into the art and architecture that echo the aesthetics of Dark Souls while offering insights into Italian culture and history. The Castello Sforzesco, with its imposing walls and towers, is a glimpse into Milan's medieval past, while the city's many museums and galleries showcase the artistic achievements of Northern Italy. Make sure to see Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" located in Santa Maria delle Grazie. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest shopping malls, is right next to the cathedral and is also worth exploring. For fans of Dark Souls, visiting Il Duomo and Milan can be a transformative experience, offering a new perspective on the virtual spaces they explored in the game.

Practical tips for your visit

Visitors should allocate enough time to fully explore the cathedral and its artworks. Various ticket options are available, including access to the cathedral, the rooftop, the museum, and the archaeological area. Combination tickets, like the 30 euro ($32.50) "Duomo+Ambrosiana," offer the best value for exploring multiple areas. Entry to the main cathedral floor is free for those who wish to pray. 

If you're visiting the rooftop, note that it is accessible by stairs or elevator (for an extra fee of around 6 euros, or $6.50). To avoid long lines, it's advisable to purchase tickets in advance. The official website offers direct sales, ensuring you pay the correct price and avoid third-party markups.

The best time to visit is early morning or late afternoon — weekdays are generally quieter than weekends. The cathedral offers several guided tour options in multiple languages, providing valuable insights into its history, architecture, and art. These tours, such as the one-hour "a walk among the spires," can enhance your understanding and appreciation of the cathedral's significance.

Dress respectfully, as the cathedral enforces a dress code requiring shoulders and knees to be covered. The cathedral is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but note certain areas have slightly different hours. To get there, take the metro line 1 or 3 to Duomo Station. It is also conveniently located in Milan's city center, within walking distance of other major landmarks. For your very own Dark Souls experience, a visit to the Milan Cathedral is a quest you cannot pass on!