The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour 16 – Siena Cathedral 

the exterior of the  church

No it’s not paint, and it’s not licorice. It’s white and dark green-black marble. This side view was taken from a spot know as The Panorama. The Duomo di Siena as it is known locally was completed between 1215 and 1263, and the stripes represent the black and white horses of the legendary city’s founders, Senius and Aschius.

The facade of the church is highly ornate, with three portals. This image taken in early evening shows of the sculpture and three gilded section at the top.


One you enter the church the effect of the stripes is particularly striking. This photo was taken half-way down the church.

The floors have 56 panels depicted various old testament scenes, allegories, and virtues. Here are three of them.

Everywhere else there is ornate decoration.

In many places are dates, indicated when something was completed. This one is AD 1615.

Turning upwards, this view shows the entrance way of the church and the huge stained glass window above it. The busts you can see around the edges are some of the 172 that show the popes, staring with St. Peter and ending with Lucius III.

Here is another view looking back towards the entrance from further inside the church.

The cathedral has a hexagonal dome.

As part of our tour we opted to go into the ceiling spaces of the church to get a look at how the church was constructed, and to get some better views of the upper parts of the church.

Access is view a series of spiral staircases, and tunnels. Here is a stair case.

And a tunnel.

The ornate decoration in the ceiling of this tunnel is in a place where it would not ever be seen by the public using the church, nor the decoration above the door at the end of the access way in the image above.

There were also gargoyles, again in places where worshippers would never see them.

Here we see a section of the support structure for the roof. Some of the timbre is original, much as been replaced over the centuries.

There was an interesting display of tools and construction techniques.

And a helpful panel showing the different types of marble use in the construction of the cathedral.

On the walk we were able to get a close-up view of some of the stained glass.

We also got some great views of the upper parts of the church. This one looking back to the entrance.

This one looking at the detail underneath the dome.

And this one looking down the floor, showing the striped construction and a very larger floor panel.

The other place we went was the recently discovered crypt. Repair work recently uncovered wall paintings from the earliest times of the church. Here are two pictures of them.


The adjacent museum holds much religious artwork and statues, these items having been removed from the church during the many restorations down through the centuries, or for safe keeping (copies are used in the church).

This work from around 1458 by Donatello is titled Madonna and Child.


The paining below,  Maestà of Duccio, was an later piece originally installed in 1311. In 1711 it was broken into pieces so that it could be used on two alters, but but in the process some parts were damaged and others were mislaid. The font side, seen below, has all it parts, however the back part has some parts missing, and some accounted for in other museums.

Like all of the photos I’m posting, this one doesn’t do it justice. The detail and expressions on the face and in the clothes is amazing.


The original stained glass window, created in 1287, was removed in 1943 to avoid war-damage.


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