Duomo of Siena

 

On the Duomo Square, opposite the old hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, rises the huge majestic Cattedrale dell'Assunta (the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption), a splendid example of the Italian Gothic.

The building, begun in 1230, replaced a previous cathedral of the IX century, entitled Santa Maria. The cupola (or Dome) was added in 1264, but in the 1300s the church was completely transformed: the central nave was raised and illuminated by trifora (three-arched) windows, the façade was worked on by, amongst others, Giovanni Pisano, the chorus was changed, and above all, the transept was widened, in the ambitious attempt to transform the cathedral into the biggest temple of Christianity. Of this last insane widening, begun in the first half of the 1300s and interrupted by the terrible plague of 1348 (as well as by the collapse of some of the structures), there remain traces of the structures effectively built on the left side of the current Duomo: the so-called 'facciatona', the columns of the three naves and a part of the left side, where you can see what is certainly the most brilliant door of the Sienese Gothic. The door opens onto the staircase that leads to the lower Baptistry of San Giovanni.

After the failure of the plan for the New Duomo, work, from then on, concerned the old building. The façade was finished in a gothic style at the end of the 1300s, integrating the part by Giovanni Pisano. The originals of the marble statues (some of which are the work of Pisano), that enrich the façade with depictions of Saints, Prophets, and allegorical Sybils and Animals, are assembled on the ground floor of the Museo dell'Opera.