The Duomo in Siena

If I have to choose a “must see” in Siena, I would have to pick the Duomo or Cathedral. The admission is worth every penny. For me, this was one of the highlights of our trip. The treasures inside the walls are incredible. So unlike the interior of the cathedrals in Florence.

Front facade.

Detail of front facade.

The Interior

As soon as you enter, you’ll notice the black and white marble striped columns. As you look up towards the ceiling decorated with gold stars on a brilliant blue background,  you’ll notice busts of popes and emperors lining the top – I personally thought it was a little freaky (the busts, I mean). But, one of the most beautiful of the treasures in this cathedral is directly under your feet. The floor of the cathedral is decorated with the most beautiful mosaics I had ever seen, but more on those later.

Stained glass window depicting the Last Supper.

Here’s a close up of some of those busts.

The Coronation of Pope Pius III. Fresco above the entrance to the Piccolomini Library.

Pisano pulpit (1265-68)

Let’s take a closer look at that pulpit. The carvings on the panels depict the life of Christ.

Altar

Floor Mosaics

There are 56 etched and marble inlaid marble panels in total. They are amazing! Some of them are massive. These are actually uncovered for a limited time, usually during the Palio. We were lucky to have seen them.

Hermes Trismegistus

One of the oldest designs ~ Sienese Wolf Surrounded by Symbols of Allied Cities.

Story of Fortune

Piccolomini Library

My jaw dropped upon entering this room. It is a small library containing illuminated manuscripts. But what takes your breath away are the Renaissance frescoes and vaulted ceiling (the first photo below) by Pinturicchio and those colours – so vibrant! Also, don’t miss the copy of the famous statue ~ Three Graces located in the middle of the library.

Vaulted ceiling of the Piccolomini Library.

Detail of ceiling.

Left: Enea Piccolomini Leaves for the Council of Basel.
Right: Enea Piccolomini as an Ambassador to the Court of James I of Scotland.

Left: Enea Silvio Piccolomini Presents Frederick III to Eleonora of Portugal.
Right: Enea Silvio is Elevated to Cardinal.

Left: Frederick III Crowning Enea Silvio Piccolomini with a Laurel Wreath
Right: Homage to Pope Eugenius IV in the Name of Emperor Frederick III

Delve a bit more into the Pinturichio frescoes here:

Floor of the Piccolomini Library

Towards the back

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About May Dayao

Carpe diem!
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6 Responses to The Duomo in Siena

  1. zelmare says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this, May – it is truly breath taking!! That ceiling is magnificent, as well as the one of the library. Oh wow!!! 🙂

  2. This is an amazing place, and I love how you caught so much detail in your photos. I actually had forgotten how decorated the inside is because it’s been a long time since I was inside. You probably know that the duomo was planned to be much, much larger but part of it fell during construction and then the plague came and plans were never realized.

    • May Dayao says:

      Thanks Jenna! I didn’t know that the Duomo was planned be larger than what it is now. I’m actually looking for a book on Siena. Would you have any recommendations? I’d like to learn more of its history, architecture… and it’s time for you to go back 🙂

  3. Debra Kolkka says:

    This is my favourite church in Italy. I went there once, before you had to pay to get in, very early in the morning and I was the only person there…..it was magical. Pintoricchio, who painted much of the Piccolomini was a friend of Raphael and they painted themselves into at least one of the frescoes. Your pictures are wonderful.

    • May Dayao says:

      Me too Debra! Definitely one of my favourite churches if not my favourite. It’s beautiful both inside and outside 🙂 You still have to pay to get in. I think it cost us 6 Euros per person. That must have been amazing to be there without the crowds. I think I see Raphael in the fresco that is above the entrance to the library. I wish I was back there – *sigh!

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