"Exterior of the Duomo" Duomo - Cathedral Tip by JoostvandenVondel
Duomo - Cathedral, Siena: 113 reviews and 256 photos
If you can spare the time to browse through my pages, you'll notice that I am an incredible architectural lover. My little camera does not do justice to the wonderful cathedrals and buildings I have visited, but hopefull I'm able to give some impression of the wonders that human beings, when inspired, are able to create. The Duomo of Siena is one of these wonders.
The Duomo of Siena, or as it is officially known as the Duomo di Santa Maria dell'Assunta, represents the crowning glory of this medieval Tuscan city. And, as with many other ancient towns throughout Europe, stands as the beating heart of the town where once no money was spared in its beautification. The Duomo was built between 1215 and 1263 and thereby constructed relatively quickly for the time period. Although, no traces of haste are to be seen in this incredible structure.
Interestingly enough, the citizens of Siena had drawn up designs to double the size of the cathedral in 1339 and had actually begun construction but were halted by the onset of the Plague in 1348. Some of the outer walls were built and the flooring laid but since flaws were later discovered in the designs, construction never resumed once halted. The floor is used today as a car park and leads to the Museo dell Opera Metropolitana.
The beautiful facade of the Duomo can be divided into two sections: the lower and the upper sections. The lower section is set in the polychrome (multi-coloured) marble typical of Tuscan churches and completed in 1284 under the directions of Giovanni Pisano. Standing in front of the structure, one can see that the facade rests upon three portals surmounted by lunettes (half-moon shaped spaces of masonry) and triangular-shaped Gothic pediments. The columns between each portal are decorated with acanthus (depicting foilage) scrolls and scenes from the Bible.
The upper section includes the quite simple rose window set in 1288 and is based on the designs of a brilliant Sienese artist, Duccio di Buoninsegna. However, work on the facade was also halted due to the Plague and did not resume until 1376 under the direction of Giovanni di Cecco. He continued the polychrome marble decoration as inspired by the designs of the cathedral at Orvieto, and added more jamb figures of prophets, philosophers and apostles. The columns of the upper section are not in line with those of the lower section reflecting the expansion of the nave from earlier designs. The golden mosaic found in the top triangular pediment was added in the 19th century
The facade does remind one of the cathedral in Florence, and, although smaller in stature, is by no means any less impressive. Whereas the interior of the Duomo in Florence is relatively plain in comparison to its almost carnavalesque facade, the marvelous richness of colour extends into Siena's Duomo as I shall describe in my following page.
Mar 15-Oct daily 9am-7:30pm; Nov-Mar 14 daily 10am-1pm and 2:30-5pm
Admission to church free, except when floor uncovered during the Palio, then ?5.50; Libreria Piccolomini on cumulative ticket or ?1.50.
Address: Piazza del Duomo (what a surprise!)
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