il Duomo di Siena

Tyler Rizzo April 8, 2013 Sienna, Italy view in flickr

The Siena Cathedral (Il Duomo di Siena) is one of many domed cathedrals throughout Italy, but happens to be amongst the most reknowned. Completed in 1263, this great religious structure was worked on by an eclectic series of multiple Sienese artists over the course of its construction. Defining elements of this architectural wonder include a Latin cross transept (typical of Gothic style churches of the 13th century), a dome projecting from a hexagonal base (a feature we typically see in Renaissance or classical structures such as the Pantheon or San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane), and a lantern designed by the Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The stained glass window of the Duomo was influenced in style by the pre-Renaissance Sienese artist Duccio, and the structure as a whole is almost entirely constructed of marble.


This eclectic mélange of  architectural and artistic styles present in the architecture of the Duomo contributes to the collective memory of Sienese today in that it represent a great many artistic influences that were present in Siena throughout history. From its 14th century rose window to the lantern that hangs from its astounding dome, the Duomo’s unique styles reflect Siena as a city and its continued relationship between civic, religious, and artistic lives.


When speaking to many Sienese people, you find the pride that they collectively take in the beauty and presence of this structure. Siena’s city colors are black and white, and these colors are incorporated into the architecture in a patternistic way to infuse the Duomo with a regionally specific elements. Personally, I have found that in speaking with others about il Duomo di Siena as compared to cathedrals in cities like Firenze and Orvieto, many Siena natives will boast that their Duomo is superior. Though it is dwarfed in size by the Duomo di Firenze,  the pride and sense of culture that the Duomo di Siena boasts is enormous.