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Explore the Siena Cathedral | History, Architecture, Visitor Information

The Siena Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Siena, is an outstanding example of Italian Gothic architecture. Constructed around the 12th century, Siena Cathedral is one of It...

Also Known As

Duomo di Siena

Quick information

ADDRESS

Piazza del Duomo, 8, 53100 Siena SI, Italy

RECOMMENDED DURATION

2 hours

Timings

10am–7pm

EXPECTED WAIT TIME - STANDARD

0-30 mins (Peak), 30-60 mins (Off Peak)

Plan your visit

Did you know?

Inside the cathedral, the Piccolomini Library is adorned with vivid frescoes depicting the life of Pope Pius II. These beautifully preserved artworks add a touch of Renaissance splendor to the interior.

Siena Cathedral has played a role in films like "The English Patient" and "007 Quantum of Solace." Its timeless beauty and historic aura have made it a sought-after location for filmmakers from around the world.

The cathedral's dome, designed by Giovanni Pisano, is often linked to the Pantheon in Rome.




Book Tickets to the Siena Cathedral

Duomo di Siena | A Most Splendid Cathedral

The Siena Cathedral is a historic church located in the heart of Siena, Italy. Established in the 13th century, the cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of Italian Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It boasts a stunning exterior with intricate marble facades, exquisite interiors, and mosaic floors while holding impressive portraits and sculptures by artists like Pinturicchio, Duccio di Buoninsegna, and Donatello. 

Here, you will get to view its striking black and white bell tower and find treasures such as the Piccolomini Library, which contains rare illuminated manuscripts and stunning fresco cycles. The cathedral is also home to important religious relics and artifacts that are kept in the Cathedral’s Museum. Visit Siena Cathedral with tickets that can be purchased online. 

Quick Guide to the Siena Cathedral

Siena Cathedral

Why Visit Siena Cathedral? 

There are several reasons why one might visit the Siena Cathedral in the city of Siena. Here are a few good reasons:

  • Stunning architecture and artworks: Get lost in the grandiose architecture of the interiors of the cathedral and admire its detailed facade. Also, explore its sculptures, frescos, and paintings from various Italian and Sienese artists. 
  • The Gates of Heaven tour: Climb the staircase of the cathedral to reach the “Gates of Heaven”, an elevated corridor overlooking the nave, and even step out to the rooftops to view the city of Siena. 
  • Enter the Piccolomini Library: Marvel at the impressive Piccolomini Library and its collection of illuminated manuscripts and ancient books and elaborate frescos. 
  • Beyond the Cathedral: Access other parts of the cathedral complex including the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the crypt, and also the Museo dell'Opera which houses important artifacts from the cathedral. 

A Short History of Siena Cathedral's Construction

Dome Interior - Siena Cathedral

In 1196, a guild of masons called the Opera di Santa Maria was put in charge of constructing a new cathedral in Siena. By 1215, mass was regularly said in the basic structure of the new church. Renovations took place from 1226 onward and large volumes of black and white marble were transported to the cathedral for the construction of the facade and the bell tower. The ceiling vaults and the transept were constructed in 1260. Around this time the work on the west facade by architect Giovanni Pisano under the Opera del Duomo was underway. The church’s iconic dome was completed in 1264. Another major renovation to the church happened in 1339 under architect and sculptor Giovanni di Agostino in order to double the size of the structure by building a new nave. The Black Death had stalled work in 1348 and the expansion was abandoned.

Architecture & Design of the Siena Cathedral

Corridor Interior - Siena Cathedral

What to See at the Siena Cathedral?

Facade - Siena Cathedral

The Facade

The facade is built in Tuscan Romanesque style, and divided into an upper and lower part. It is packed with finely carved embellishments, busts, and statues of allegorical and biblical figures. The facade is known for its three richly decorated portals with vortex-like carvings in the tympanums that act as entrances to the Cathedral. Above the portals is a rose window depicting The Last Supper and in the triangular gable at the top, a glowing mosaic of the Coronation of the Virgin.

Interior - Siena Cathedral
Gates of heaven - Siena Cathedral - Roof

Gates of Heaven

While you are in the Cathedral, go on a Gates of Heaven tour that allows you to access the upper gallery of the church. Climbing up 80 stairs, one can get a spectacular view of the colonnaded church nave from above. You can stroll the corridors and even the outer passages on the rooftops, taking in the solemn ambiance of the church and the views of the city. The design of the Gates of Heaven was inspired by the biblical story of Jacob's Ladder, in which the patriarch Jacob dreams of a ladder leading to heaven.

The Crypt of Siena Cathedral

The Crypt

The crypt of the Siena Cathedral was accidentally discovered in a room under the pulpit when the church was being renovated. The room took about three years to be carefully cleared of debris by historians and archeologists. The room is covered with frescoes from the Sienese school that date back to the 13th century. Some of the scenes depicted in the frescos are the Passion of Christ, the Deposition from the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the scenes from the Old Testament. 

Piccolomini Library - Siena Cathedral
Baptistry of San Giovanni Battista - Siena Cathedral

Baptistry of San Giovanni Battista

The Baptistry located outside the cathedral was built in the 1310s and the 1320s by Camaino di Crescentino. It is a solid structure with plenty of detailed frescos and paintings. Its most prized possession is the Baptismal Font — a bronze, marble, and enamel piece that depicts the life of St. John the Baptist with two statues surrounding it. It was worked on by several sculptors from the Renaissance period, including Donatello.

Mosaic Floor - She wolf - Siena Cathedral
Mosaic Floor - She wolf - Siena Cathedral

Museo dell’Opera

In the right wing of the Siena Cathedral complex is a building that is the Cathedral’s museum. Founded in 1869, it contains artifacts, statues, bas-reliefs, and artworks that were at some point part of the Duomo of Siena. It includes sculptures by Giovanni Pisano, and paintings by Duccio di Boninsegna, Ambrogio, and Pietro Lorenzetti. In its treasury, you will find liturgical objects including gold-gilded reliquaries and chalices from the 15th and 17th centuries.

bell tower of Siena Cathedral

The Bell Tower

The towering campanile or bell tower of Siena Cathedral is an iconic structure in the city that is visible from several vantage points. The bell tower was constructed in 1313 much after the completion of the Cathedral. The bell tower contains a total of six bells placed in successive levels of the tower and culminates in a pyramid-shaped roof. The oldest bell was known to be cast as early as 1149.

Frequently Asked Questions About Siena Cathedral

What is Siena Cathedral?

Siena Cathedral is a famous medieval church located in the city of Siena, Tuscany, Italy.

Do I need tickets to enter the Siena Cathedral?

Admission to Siena Cathedral is not free. You will need tickets to enter the cathedral. Ticket prices vary depending on the activity and whether you book in advance. However, entry is free for local residents of Siena.

Why is Siena Cathedral famous?

Siena Cathedral is famous for its Romanesque, Gothic and Classical architecture, including its intricate facade, beautiful marble floors, and impressive dome. It is also home to many works of art, including sculptures by Donatello and frescoes by Pinturicchio and other artists.

What can I do at Siena Cathedral?

While at the Siena Cathedral, you can admire its beautiful architecture, explore its many works of art, and climb to the upper gallery for panoramic views of the church and city. You may also visit the museum and Piccolomini library.

Who designed Siena Cathedral?

The original design of Siena Cathedral’s facade is attributed to Giovanni Pisano, but the cathedral was later expanded and modified by several different architects and artists.

Can locals enter Siena Cathedral for free?

Yes, locals residents of Siena have free entry into Siena Cathedral.

When was Siena Cathedral built?

The basic construction of the Siena Cathedral was completed in 1215 and continued over several centuries, with additions and modifications being made as late as the 19th century.

Where is Siena Cathedral located?

Siena Cathedral is located at the Piazza del Duomo of the historic center of Siena, a city in the Tuscany region of Italy.

How can I get to Siena Cathedral?

Siena Cathedral is easily accessible by public transportation, including buses and trains. However, walking is the preferred mode of getting around in the historic center of Siena since the movement of cars is restricted in this area.

What are Siena Cathedral's timings?

The opening hours of Siena Cathedral vary depending on the season and day of the week. Generally, it is open from 10 AM to 7 PM, with shorter hours on Sundays in March.

How many entrances does Siena Cathedral have?

The main entrance is in the western facade of the cathedral. It also has entrances to the crypt, the museum, and the Piccolomini Library. 

Is there parking near Siena Cathedral?

Siena Cathedral is located in the historic center of the city and thus has restrictions on the movement of cars. You will need to find parking outside the restricted limits and walk to Cathedral.