Siena Cathedral reopens its “Gate to heaven”



The Siena Cathedral will reopen its Porta del Cielo to the public, allowing visitors to climb up a series of staircases and enjoy incredible internal and external views. At the top of the stairway visitors will be able to walk “above” the sacred temple and enjoy an aerial view of the cathedral’s marble floor covered with spectacular Renaissance mosaics.


Siena Duomo floor plan.
Siena Duomo floor plan.


Described by the Italian writer and historian Giorgio Vassari as “the most beautiful, greatest and magnificent floor that has ever been done”, the marble pavement consists of 56 panels, depicting the Sibyls, allegories and Virtues, and scenes from the Old Testament. The 14,000 square feet of marble mosaics were designed and crafted by about 40 artists and artisans, mostly from the region of Siena, and took almost two centuries to complete (from 1369 to 1547).




Visitors will also get the chance to enter into a series of rooms that have never been accessible to the public before; rooms where no-one has entered for centuries, except for the workmen.




From the “Stairway to heaven” visitors will also be able to get a closer look at the dome with trompe-l’oeil coffers, which were painted in blue with golden stars in the late 15th century.




The façade of the Siena cathedral is one of the most impressive ones in Italy, especially the west façade (the main entrance). Inside, the cathedral’s hosts some extraordinary pieces of art including The Feast of Herod by Donatello, and works by Bernini and the young Michelangelo.

The history of the cathedral is complex. The present building was built between 1215 and the end of the 1300s. When Siena was at the height of its prosperity, the citizens of the city decided that the cathedral should be even bigger than the original plan in order to surpass the grandeur of the duomo of their rival city, Florence. The new works were begun in 1339, but interrupted in 1348, due to an outbreak of the plague. Due to the lack of manpower following the plague, Siena decided to go back to the original project, which was completed in the last quarter of the 14th century.

“The “Gate to heaven” will reopen this year on March 9 through October 31 for tours of the Duomo and the Libreria Piccolomini. The latter contains beautiful frescoes by Pinturicchio. Reservation is required for the guided tour.


Practical info:

Includes: access to the Cathedral Roof as well as the Cathedral and the Piccolomini Library
Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: € 15,00 per person
(subject to availability)

Includes: access to the Cathedral Roof and the entire Siena Cathedral Museum complex.
Duration : 30 minutes for the Roof visit (including the possibility to visit the rest within 3 days)
Cost: € 20.00 per person
(subject to availability)

Includes: a guided tour of the Cathedral Roof, the internal part of the Cathedral and the Piccolomini Library
Reservation required
Duration : 90 minutes
Cost: € 25.00 per person; € 400,00 for the entire time slot (max 17 pax)
(subject to availability)

Includes: a guided tour of the Cathedral Roof, the internal part of the Cathedral and the Piccolomini Library, and access to all of the other Siena Cathedral Museum complex sites.
Duration: 90 minutes for the guided tour (including the possibility to visit the rest within 3 days).
Cost: € 30.00 per person
(subject to availability)

Photo credits: Inside view duomo by Il Tesoro di Siena; Stairway to heaven by Antonio Cinotti; dome by Serena Epstein; Siena cathedral façade by David Martin.

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