Duomo di milano devil footprint

The Devil’s Footprint: A Mysterious Tale of the Duomo di Milano

The Duomo di Milano, or Milan Cathedral, stands not only as a masterpiece of Gothic architecture but also as the keeper of legends and mysteries. Among these, the tale of the “Devil’s Footprint” is perhaps one of the most intriguing and evocative. Situated in the cultural heart of Milan, Italy, this cathedral attracts millions of visitors not just for its architectural beauty or for religious reverence, but also for the curious and eerie legend that haunts its hallowed halls.

The Legend of the Devil’s Footprint

The story dates back to the construction period of the cathedral, which began in the late 14th century and continued for nearly six centuries. According to legend, the architect tasked with the design of the massive cathedral entered a pact with the devil to ensure that the construction could be completed successfully. The devil’s assistance was secured under one treacherous condition: the cathedral must be constructed without any windows to create a dark space where evil could thrive.

As the cathedral neared completion, the architect, tormented by guilt over his demonic pact and fearful of the dark sanctuary he had created, devised a clever plan. He designed the windows in such a manner that they were hidden behind columns when viewed from the spot where the devil would stand during his inspection. When Satan arrived to claim his due, he saw what appeared to be a windowless cathedral. Satisfied, he was deceived into thinking that his condition had been met.

However, upon discovering the ruse—that the cathedral was, in fact, filled with windows flooding the space with light—he flew into a rage. In his fury, he stamped his foot, leaving behind a footprint that scorched the floor tiles, a mark that is said to be visible to this day. This footprint is famously known as the “Devil’s Footprint,” and it can be found on a small green slab near the main entrance.

The Significance and Cultural Impact

The legend of the Devil’s Footprint has transcended generations, weaving its way into the cultural and historical fabric of Milan. It serves as a dramatic tale that epitomizes the eternal struggle between good and evil, light and darkness. Visitors to the Duomo are often drawn to the spot, eager to see the mark for themselves and to feel the thrill of standing at a crossroad of history and myth.

The story is also reflective of the human condition, symbolizing the consequences of moral decisions and the lengths to which individuals might go to achieve greatness or, in this case, architectural perfection. It highlights the architect’s ultimate rejection of darkness in favor of light—a powerful metaphor for redemption and the triumph of good over evil.

Visiting the Duomo di Milano

For those planning to visit the Duomo di Milano and witness this legendary footprint, here are a few tips:

  1. Location and Access: The Devil’s Footprint is located near the main entrance, on the left side as you enter. It’s set on a small green tile that can be easy to miss, so visitors are advised to look closely or ask for directions from a guide or cathedral staff.
  2. Best Time to Visit: To avoid the crowds and have a better chance of viewing the footprint without interruption, plan your visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The cathedral can be very busy during peak tourist seasons.
  3. Take a Guided Tour: Consider taking a guided tour of the Duomo di Milano. Many guides are well-versed in the cathedral’s legends and will be able to show you the footprint as well as provide additional context and stories about the cathedral’s rich history.
  4. Respect the Space: Remember that the Duomo is not only a tourist attraction but also a place of worship. Visitors should dress modestly and act respectfully, keeping noise to a minimum.


The Devil’s Footprint in the Duomo di Milano offers a fascinating glimpse into the historical lore that surrounds this iconic cathedral. This legend not only attracts tourists but enriches the cultural experience of visiting such a historical site, reminding us of the power of storytelling in enriching our understanding of the past. Whether seen as a testament to medieval superstitions or as a symbol of the human spirit’s resilience, the Devil’s Footprint remains one of Milan’s most compelling mysteries.