Posted by: debrakolkka | October 23, 2010

The magnificent Siena Duomo

The Duomo in Siena is my favourite church in Italy.  I had no idea what to expect when I entered the church for the first time many years ago.  It is quite dark inside and it took a while for my eyes to adjust.  Slowly the striped interior appeared in front of me and I was transfixed.  Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a religious bone in my body, and won’t be acquiring any soon, but I can still appreciate the magnificence of these buildings.  I marvel at the brilliance of the people who created such beauty.  I may question the reasons why they did it, but I am glad they did.


the facade of the Duomo

incredible detail on the facade

detail on the facade

Pisano's beautiful carvings


the amazing interior

It is difficult to get an idea of the size of the church with a photo – it is huge.  This photo is just a central view.   Flash and tripods are not allowed and I am not an expert in setting up these shots.


being watched from above

you can't escape - they are on the other side as well

I love the stripes

inside the dome

inside the dome

looking up

standing quietly in the dark

The finest carving in the interior is Nicola Pisano’s Pulpit, carved between the end of 1265 and November 1268.  The octagonal pulpit is supported by 9 columns and is beautifully decorated.  My flash went off accidentally and I was shooed away before I could get a better photo.


the marble pulpit

The marble mosaic floor of the cathedral was uncovered when I visited.  This only happens for a few weeks a year, so I was very lucky.   Covering the entire cathedral floor, the mosiacs are into 56 panels of various sizes containing representations of Sibyls, scenes from the bible, virtues and allegories.  Some have been restored but all retain their original characteristics.  It is worth visiting the cathedral just to see the floor.


the Sienese she-wolf

Leopoldo Maccari created this panel of the Sienese she-wolf surrounded by the symbols of the allied cities in the 14th century.  It is original and spectacular.


detail of the panel

and more

detail of the allegory of the Hill of Knowledge

This is part of a panel called The Hill of Knowledge, where after lots of lessons are learned in life, it is decided that wealth is not important and this chap is throwing  his money and jewels away.  I’m sorry about the glare  and the shadow of my hands holding the camera.

If you go to Siena, please don’t leave without seeing the Duomo.


I’ve been back and I got some more photos.

under the dome

the steps to the pulpit

the pulpit

more of the amazing mosiac floor


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  3. I have to agree with you – ( better than Orvieto.) It is truly beautiful – divine.
    Great photos…
    I bought a new small camera today – a Canon S95 – am trying it out tonight. It fits easily in my handbag.

  4. You’ve brought back many memories of this beautiful cathedral, Deb. I agree it’s one of the most striking cathedrals I’ve seen in Italy. While many cathedrals have their own beauties, I think the green and white striped marble of the Siena Cathedral sets it apart from the others. Your photos do justice to parts of the interior.
    Pisano’s carvings are just stunning. I think the popes look quite grim!

  5. I agree with you Deb. The first time I ever looked up and saw that royal blue ceiling with the stars, I almost cried. A very special place. We are all inspired to get back there and have another visit. Thanks for the gorgeous photographs.

  6. Glorious!

  7. Deb, your photo journey through this exquisite church is such a treat. I’ve never seen it in real life, so thanks to you & your trusty camera, I’ve added it to ‘the list’.

  8. thank you for taking us with you! that architecture is simply breathtaking and we just don’t see anything like it here.

  9. What a lovely photo tour! I haven’t made it out to Siena yet, but the Duomo will certainly be on my list!

    • I’m sure you will love Siena. Jump on the train and go there.

  10. […] is such a fascinating place, with so many grand buildings, the fabulous Campo and the magnificent Duomo, it is easy to miss the delightful small things that abound all over the city.   I stayed in […]

  11. […] towns in the area. Siena has its own category and is one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. The duomo there is my favourite. Click on Montalcino, Montepulciano, Greve in Chianti and Radda in Chianti […]

  12. […] here to see more on the walking tour, here to see more on the Duomo and here to see more on the Piccolomini Library. There is a category for […]

  13. […] Siena is a gorgeous Tuscan town which has my favourite church in all of Italy. On my first visit I was lucky to be there very early in the morning and was the only person there. Now that you have to pay to go in and it is more regulated that is unlikely ever to happen again. I will never forget the magnificent interior appearing as my eyes adjusted to the low light. The walking tour of Siena is a treat not to be missed. […]

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