Siena Cathedral is a medieval church located in Siena, Italy. It is one of the most fascinating churches in the city and also in the whole of Italy. The Roman Catholic Church is dedicated to Holy Mary, Our Lady of the Assumption. The design exudes influences from elements of Classical, French Gothic, and Tuscan Romanesque architectural styles. It is also known for its inlaid marble mosaic floor that is considered one of the most ornate kind in the country.
Siena Cathedral History
The early history of the Siena Cathedral dates way back is the mid-1050’s where a church already existed in the current location. Sometime in 1196, there were plans to construct a new ad larger cathedral but did not push through. Experts are not sure when the cathedral in its current state was first built. It is believed to be built and completed somewhere between 1215 to 1263. There were indirect records that indicate how old the church is but never provided the exact dates of its construction.
Siena Cathedral Features
The Siena Cathedral is designed to form a Latin cross with its transept projecting slightly. It also features a dome and a bell tower. The dome is formed rising from a hexagonal base that is supported by columns. A lantern was added on top of the dome by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The nave of the cathedral is separated from the two aisles by semi-circular arches. White and greenish-black marble with alternating stripes were used to decorate the exterior and interior spaces, in accordance to the symbolic colors of the city. The west side facade acts as the main entryway to the church. It features three portals with the central portal capped by a bronze sun. The west side facade is considered as one of the most beautiful examples of Sienanise workmanship. Over the years, the west facade went through some changes in the design when the nave of the church was raised. The facade also had to be raised as well. During this portion of the work, a rose window was installed and became one of the main features of the raised facade.
The church is also known for its intricate black and white marble flooring. Around 40 artists provided their contribution to the design of the marble floors. Work on the marble floors, that spanned the whole church, went on from somewhere in the 14th and the 16th centuries. The flooring is characterized by mostly rectangular marble panels although there are also marble panels shaped as hexagons and rhombuses which can be found in the church transept. Most of the floors today are covered for protection for most of the year. It is only uncovered for public viewing for six to ten weeks each year.