A city of museums and churches that has a rich confluence of medieval art, Siena in Tuscany is the ideal holiday destination for history lovers who are longing for a bit of old-world charm. Entering this Tuscan city feels like being in a time warp of a different culture and the beautiful cityscape and classic cuisine add significantly to this allure. The historic center of Siena prides itself on being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and The Siena Cathedral is the most notable of all the tourist attractions.
A masterpiece of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture, one can gaze at the Siena Cathedral for hours together and still have more to explore! Siena is also renowned for the Palio - an exciting horse race event that’s held twice a year around the Piazza del Campo, one of Europe’s most fabulous medieval squares! Visit this massive 12th-century marvel for a great start to your holiday in Italy.
Siena Cathedral- In a Nutshell
Things to know
Number of visitors per year: 1 million
Architect: Giovanni Pisano, Camaino di Crescentino, Giovanni di Agostino, Giovanni di Cecco
Architectural style: Romanesque, Classical and Italian Gothic
Opening Hours And Address
Monday - Saturday: 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM
On Sundays and on/ on the eve of Public Holidays: 10:30 AM to 5 PM
Address : Piazza del Duomo, 8,
53100 Siena SI, Italy
Why Visit the Siena Cathedral?
A stunningly beautiful edifice of Gothic Romanesque architecture, the Siena Cathedral is dedicated to the service of the Assumption of Mary. Replete with a dome, bell tower, and a projecting transept, it bears a likeness to the Latin cross. The exterior facade’s Venetian mosaics and rose windows make its design all the more distinctive.
The interiors of the cathedral are majorly done up in alternating stripes of black and white marble, symbolic of the city’s legendary founders. While the richly decorated walls and columns lend an exquisite aura, the mosaic flooring is what will take your breath away. A masterpiece in storytelling, the floor has about 56 inlaid marble panels supplied by 40 leading artists of the age that represents sibyls, scenes, and allegories from the Old Testament. The completion of these designs took over six centuries!
The cathedral is home to some prominent works of art by Italy’s prolific artists and many sculptors have worked tirelessly to contribute to its grand success. Nicola Pisano is credited with carving the pulpit, and his son Giovanni was tasked with developing many other portions. The works of Italian greats such as Donatello, Bernini and Michelangelo are also featured here, among other artists.
Housed within the sanctuary, the Piccolomini Library boasts of an exotic collection of books and musical manuscripts. The library is famous for its brightly colored frescoes done up in blue, red, and gold colors with grotesque designs. Painted by Pinturicchio, they depict the life of Pope Pius II.
Which Siena Cathedral tickets should you buy?
Depending on whether you're a history lover, or architecture admirer, your itinerary may vary. Hence it is important to plan ahead, skip the lines and book the best experience.
You may choose to book one of Headout's pre-planned tours , crafted combining the best experiences including the Siena Cathedral in a package or book your Siena Cathedral tickets individually on the Headout app for just €12.
Plan Your Visit
By Train: With the railway station located around 1.5 km from the Duomo, you can easily visit Siena from Florence by train in 90 minutes.
By Bus: Opt for the Rapide SITA buses from Florence to take you to the historic center closest to Siena Duomo.
By Car: It only takes 45 minutes by road from Florence to Siena, but unless you’re renting a vehicle to drop you till Siena, it would be a bad idea to drive down in a personal car as finding a parking spot near the old town is a nightmare!
Siena Cathedral Timings
- Between 1st April to 31st October: 10 AM to 7 PM
- Between 1st November to 31st March : 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM
- Between 26 December – 6 January: 10:30 AM to 6 PM
- On Sundays, public holidays and the day before the public holidays usually between: 1:30 PM to 5 PM
Best Time to Visit the Siena Cathedral
The medieval heart of Italy, Siena, boasts of a temperate climate and attracts tourists all year round, but the best time to visit usually falls in Autumn when the Tuscan countryside is colorful and cooler.
History Behind the Siena Cathedral
The Siena Cathedral is believed to have been built on an earlier church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. payment of six soldi towards Nicola Pisano, the celebrated artist in the day is the only record of its construction in the 12th century. Pisani carved the magnificent pulpit and his son Giovani carved the sculptures of sibys, prophets and philosophers that adorn it.
There were grand plans on expanding the cathedral by building a new nave that would be 100m long but the city was affected by the Black Plague which decimated most of the population and together with them, the grandiose plans leaving only the facciatone as a grim reminder of those days. Despite these, the grandeur of the cathedral has not been diminished owing to the works of many artists who toiled over making this monument gloriously perfect.
- Get there early - The cathedral gets very crowded later in the day, and you'll want to be able to enjoy the beauty of the church without having to fight through a crowd.
- Take your time - There's a lot to see in the cathedral, so be sure to take your time and explore the cathedral and its many features, such as the stained glass windows and paintings.
- Learn about the history of the cathedral - The cathedral is full of historical and religious significance, and it's worth taking the time to learn about it before your visit.
- Be sure to visit the museum located inside the cathedral.
- Make sure you climb to the top of the tower for amazing views of the city.
The Siena Cathedral is a beautiful church that is worth a visit. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:
Places to Visit Around Siena Cathedral
Torre del Mangia, one of Italy’s tallest secular towers, which offers a pleasant aerial view, the Pubblico Palace, Complesso Museale Santa Maria Della Scala, Fonte Gaia, and The Civic Museum of Siena.
Embark on a day trip from Florence and cover the hilltop village of San Gimignano, also known as The Town of Fine Towers. You’ll enjoy the cultural vibe that is unique to medieval Europe here with its walled exteriors and quaint ambiance. What’s more, it makes for a picturesque backdrop for photography!.
If you have time to spare, head over to the heart of Chianti and savor sips of the divine wine! If you plan well in advance, you can also spend a few exciting hours at the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
End your day trip with a visit to Monteriggioni and savor the Tuscan delights of fine wine, balsamic vinegar and zero food millets before the day ends!
Places to Eat Near the Siena Cathedral
After spending all day at the Siena Cathedral, you can unwind with a glass of wine and delicious Italian cuisine at any of the several restaurants located in its vicinity. A few famous names that have stood the test of time include eateries such as:
Places to Stay Nearby the Siena Cathedral
The Siena Duomo is housed in the city center, so it’s best to find accommodation in the historic city if you’d like to look out of your balcony and gaze at the dream that is the cathedral.
FAQs: Siena Cathedral
Q. How much do the Siena Cathedral tickets cost?
A. Siena Cathedral tickets are available at varying price ranges starting from €12, with each ticket offering a special feature to help you enjoy an exceptional experience at the site.
Q. Do I need to book Siena Cathedral tickets in advance?
A. Yes, Siena Cathedral tickets should be booked in advance as there is a high demand for tickets. Booking Siena Cathedral tickets online comes with a number of discounts that are not available at the ticket counter.
Q. Are discounts available for Siena Cathedral tickets?
A. Yes, you can avail of discounts on Siena Cathedral tickets by purchasing them online. For more information, make sure to check your tickets.
Q. What is the Siena Cathedral dress code?
A. Make sure to dress appropriately to respect the religious site of Siena Cathedral and maintain decorum.
Q. Is Siena Cathedral worth visiting?
A. Yes, Siena Cathedral is worth visiting as it is an important church in the city, built in honor of the Virgin Mary by Pope Alexander IV back in 1255 A.D. Known for its architectural beauty, it houses several famous sculptors, paintings, and artworks attracting visitors worldwide. It also has huge religious importance.
Q. What are the Siena Cathedral visiting hours?
A. Siena Cathedral's opening hours vary throughout the year. It is best to check the timings before visiting.
Q. What are Siena Cathedral's attractions?
A. Siena Cathedral's attractions include its beautiful architecture, sculptures, paintings, and artworks. It is also a place of religious importance. Siena Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
More Things to See in Siena
Siena has tons of other attractions you can visit after your trip to the Siena Cathedral. Here are some other attractions that are now open to the public that cannot be missed! Check out more things to see in Siena.