The Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena) is one Tuscany’s most beautiful churches, second perhaps only to Florence's Santa Maria del Fiore. The magnificent Gothic and Romanesque structure is hard to miss thanks to its tall spires, bold white-and-green stripes, and ornate facade. Inside, the cathedral is equally impressive with works of art by Donatello, Bernini, and Michelangelo.
Appreciate the Siena Cathedral’s wealth of art and architecture on a guided tour. Skip-the-line entrance tickets grant access to the church, crypt, and baptistry (Battistero di San Giovanni), along with the adjacent Piccolomini Library—frescoed by Pinturicchio—and the Museo dell'Opera. Explore the cathedral complex as part of a city walking tour or on a day trip from Florence to Siena, Pisa, and San Gimignano. Inside the cathedral, highlights include the marble pulpit and floor, numerous statues, and the Chigi and Saint John the Baptist chapels.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Modest attire is required to enter the church, so be sure to cover your shoulders and knees.
- Walking tours of the cathedral complex and city of Siena cover quite a bit of ground; comfortable shoes are recommended.
- While the cathedral is accessible via a secondary entrance to the left of the main staircase, the museum, crypt, and baptistry are not.
- Photography isn’t allowed inside the complex.
How to Get There
The Cathedral of Siena is on Piazza Duomo in Siena’s pedestrian-only historic center. It can only be reached on foot.
When to Get There
Siena's cathedral has a breathtaking graffito floor, one of the most impressive in Italy. There are 56 marble panels of biblical and historical scenes, most hidden behind a protective covering and revealed for just a few weeks each summer. Try to time your visit for this period to view this masterpiece.
Siena Cathedral History and the Museo dell'Opera
The cathedral’s construction began in the early 1200s, and after almost a century, Giovanni Pisano, whose style was heavily influenced by his father, Nicola, completed the beautiful facade. Despite an impressive cathedral, Siena's ambitious ruling families decided in the 14th century to double the size of the existing structure into the New Cathedral (Duomo Nuovo). The plague stopped the plan, and today Museo dell'Opera occupies the only nave that was completed. Museo dell'Opera holds many of the cathedral's most important works of art, including Giovanni Pisano’s statues of prophets and philosophers that once adorned the facade and Duccio di Buoninsegna's Maesta. Duccio di Buoninsegna designed the huge rose window, and the gable’s glittering Venetian mosaics were added in the 19th century.