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Siena’s Duomo, a masterpiece of Italian Romanesque-Gothic

The multi-colored charm of the Duomo

If we head east from Piazza del Campo through Via dei Pellegrini, we find ourselves in the presence of one of the masterpieces that best represent the italiano Gothic style in its expressive elegance dense of Romanesque influences: it’s Siena’s Duomo, built in the highest point of the city at the start of the thirteenth century and finished, in its main structure, in 1370. The first thing that strikes those who are in front of the metropolitan Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (the official name of the Cathedral, which recalls immediately August’s Palio) is the particular succession of horizontal bands in black and white marble that characterizes the interior and exterior of the religious building, including the bell tower. Inside, the eye does not know where to linger, given the large number of monuments that fill the building, including the floor, in fact the floor itself is a work of art: a succession of more than sixty representations made with inlaid marbles, protected by a cover except in the months from August to October. Concerning the interior, it’s worth mentioning the suggestive French-inspired stained glass window designed by Duccio di Buoninsegna, the pulpit by Nicola Pisano, the sixteenth century frescos by Pinturicchio and sculptural and architectural works by Donatello, Michelangelo and Bernini.

The new and old Duomo

The costruction of the Cathedral was halted around 1339, when the original project was challenged to prepare for the New Duomo, a gigantic project, the result of the moment of prosperity experienced by the city at that time and the will to compete with the rival city of Florence. The existing structure would constitute only the transect (the part perpendicular to the aisles present in Christian churches to form the typical cross shape) of a gigantic cathedral, but the crisis that followed the terrible plague of 1348 and the fragility of what had been built until then compared to the size of the new project meant that in 1357 the work resumed for the original project, with renewed energy. The endeavour was not completely useless, though, and helped to make the historic center of Siena even more unique. How? With the impressive remains of what should have been the New Duomo, also known as the Facciatone and part of the aisles, that well represent its enormous size.

Face to face with Siena’s Duomo and its treasures

The Opera del Duomo is the institution that takes care of all visits inside the religious complex hich offers a unique cumulative ticket giving access to more monuments: It is the so called Opa Si Pass, of which there are two variants. The All Inclusive version gives access to the Duomo, the Piccolomini Library, the suggestive Crypt rediscovered in 1999, the Baptistery of San Giovanni and the Opera Museum, and ending with the Facciatone and its extraordinary views of Siena and the surrounding countryside . And if you do not suffer from vertigo and breathtaking views are your passion, the Opa Si Pass Plus is perfect for you, as it combines the attractions just listed with the route called La Porta del Cielo: an evocative guided toor the rooftop of the Cathedral for small groups. Of course, there are also tickets for individual points of interest; the last access is within half an hour from the closing time of the complex, which varies depending on the time of year.