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The Duomo in Siena, Tuscany

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The Siena Duomo known also Cattedrale dell Assunta della Maria, is open daily mid-March to October – 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; November – mid March 7:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m. -5:00 p.m. to worshipers and the curious.

Located in Castelvecchio, the oldest part of the city, it is Siena’s most controversial monument, a symphony of black and white marble, and one of the most delightful examples of Gothic architecture in Christendom.

Work on this cathedral was started around 1200, with its lavish sculptured facade created by Giovanni Pisano. It features statues of biblical prophets and pagan philosophers, and a glittering mosaic in the upper half done by Venetian artists in the late 19th century.

Duomo’s treasure is in its interior – from its ferociously striped pilasters and Gothic vaulting that draws the eye upward to a blue firmament painted with golden stars to its marvelous marble pavement. If you are a serious sightseer, prepare to spend a day here.

Duomo’s attractions:

The entire floor of the Siena Duomo (about 12,000 square meters) is covered with virtuoso sgraffito in 56 scenes including portraits, mystical allegories and Old Testament scenes, a product of 190 years of work by Siena’s best artists, foremost of which is the Hermes Trismegistus the legendary father of alchemy.

Other works in the pavement are the Wheel of Fortune, Allegory of Fortune attributed to Pinturicchio. Some stunning works, like Allessandro Franci’s The Triumph of Elias and Execution of the False Prophets of Baal are not available for viewing except in September and October (please confirm with the tourist office for exact dates). An admission fee is required during this time.

The Duomo in Siena, Tuscany

Other works that are available for viewing the whole year round are The Seven Ages of Man, Scenes from the Life of Moses, Massacre of the Innocents, and Judith Liberating the City of Bethulia.

Other Works in the Duomo

At eye level, you will see the famous marble pulpit ornately sculpted with scenes from the life of Jesus. In the left transept at the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist is frescoes by Pinturicchio and the bronze statue of St. John by Donatello.

Looking up, you will see the stained glass windows by Duccio, and over the high altar is the bronze baldachin by Vecchietta. The Piccolomini Altar at the north aisle has the statues of saints done by Michelangelo and the Madonna by Jacopo della Quercia.

Going outside the Siena Duomo, you will discover that there is yet a lot to explore in Siena. Other attractions that await you include the Baptistry, the Museo dell’ Opera Metropolitana, the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala, and the temple of Sienese art – the Pinacoteca. Yet, there is so little time left, and you would want to spend another day here.

Enjoy Siena.