Siena boasts a delightful old center, the famous Piazza del Campo, and many churches. On top of all that, there is a place in Siena where beauty is so concentrated that it is almost overwhelming: Piazza del Duomo.
If you don't want to miss anything, buy a special ticket that lets you visit all the treasures in this square, saving a bit of money, too. It’s called OPA SI PASS ALL INCLUSIVE and is a combined ticket that includes entry to all the complex of the Cathedral of Siena.
The Opera della Metropolitana di Siena, a non-profit organisation, devotes all profits from the sale of tickets exclusively to the conservation and restoration of the artistic and musem complex of Siena Cathedral.
If you want to visit everything, you’ll need about 2 hours, but take your time: the Pass is valid for three days from the day of purchase! So, snap up the ticket and get ready for a wonderful journey!
The Duomo is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world and one of the most illustrious examples of Romanesque-Gothic cathedrals in Italy. It is a treasure trove of incredible artistic gems: statues by Michelangelo, Donatello and Bernini, the pulpit by Nicola Pisano, paintings on wood and canvas as well as fresco cycles and extraordinary stained-glass windows. Plus, we mustn’t forget the unique treasure of the Duomo, which is usually kept out of sight: the floor. It is one of the most incredible works of art of all time, with a spectacular inlaid marble mosaic described by Giorgio Vasari as “the most beautiful, largest and most magnificent floor that was ever made”. As beautiful as fragile, the floor is normally covered by sheets in order to protect it, but you can see it uncovered usually in summertime.
The Cathedral leads to the splendid Libreria Piccolomini, frescoed by Pinturicchio. The Baptistery of San Giovanni, in the back of the Cathedral, features an impressive staircase. Admire the frescoes that completely decorate the magnificent vaults, the most extensive and articulated religious cycle of the Sienese Renaissance. Notice the splendid baptismal font by Jacopo della Quercia, Donatello and Lorenzo Ghiberti.
The Crypt had remained hidden for more than seven centuries before it was brought to light with one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the past twenty years: a grandiose pictorial cycle dating to the thirteenth century.
The Museo dell'Opera is home to many works of the cathedral and some of the must-see treasures of Italian art, including the famous Maestà by Duccio di Buoninsegna – the largest altarpiece ever painted – the Golden Rose by Bernini, the Madonna and Child by Donatello and the Crucifix by Pisano.
Last, but not least: the Facciatone (big façade of the Duomo Nuovo) is worth a visit. Climb up to its panoramic terrace that takes you to “the rooftop of Siena”: the view over the city and the surrounding countryside will take your breath away!
If you are wondering what exactly is this Facciatone: on August 23, 1339, it was decided to enlarge Siena Cathedral (the construction work had already begun in February). The project intended to keep the existing church, which was supposed to become the transept of the new cathedral, modifying the dome and creating a fore-structure with two aisles and a nave, six bays and a new apse. After 1348, due to the economic recession caused by the Black Death, which had decimated the population, and problems of statics that had emerged, the construction slowed down and eventually stopped. Following the abandonment of the Duomo Nuovo project, the construction was partially demolished. However, an enormous "trunk" still remained from this impressive building project, consisting of the facciatone, the side walls and the northeast facing nave. If that’s not enough, there is something more, not included in the OPA Pass. For example the Porta del Cielo (Gate of Heaven) is open to the public for some periods of the year with its own ticket.