THE DUOMO (PART I)
The massive and grandiose Cathedral of Siena, named Duomo di Santa Maria dell’Assunta (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption) rises on an extensive platform lifted above Piazza del Duomo, opposite to the former Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala, currently an important museum.
Twelve steps, representing the Apostles, conduct to the raised area.
The Cathedral, its white and black striped Campanile (bell tower) and the adjacent same coloured and wonderful Baptistery constitute one of the most brilliant architectonical religious complexes in Tuscany.
The Cathedral is a superb example of Italian Gothic architecture. It is believed one of the most important cathedrals in Italy, as well as one of the few in Italy which have been constructed in full Gothic style.
Its construction started in the second half of the 12th century, to replace a former church constructed in the 9th century, which had also been the seat of the Bishopric in Siena.
In 1339 was made an architectonical project to enlarge even more the already grandiose Duomo. The enlargement consisted in adding a new great nave to the south of 50 m. in length and 30 m. in width. The project had been conceived to turn the religious building into the main temple of the Christendom, but the grand plan ought to be interrupted owing to the terrible Black Death’s plague, which razed the city in 1348. Nowadays, that unfinished nave hosts an art gallery of Gothic sculpture.
The most part of the Duomo was designed by the great Tuscan architect and sculptor Nicola Pisano (Apulia (Lucca’s province), 1220 ca. - Pisa, 1278 ca.).
The famous Tuscan architect, painter and art historian, Giorgio Vasari (Arezzo, 1511- Florence, 1574) considered him the most important Italian architect of his century.
The construction work concluded in 1382, when the façade and the apse were brought to an end.
The talented Tuscan architect and sculptor Giovanni Pisano (1250 ca.- 1314), son of the famous Nicola, designed around 1284 the splendid Gothic façade of white, red and green marble, sated with statues and gargoyles, but could build only its lower part before his death. In the lower part of the façade Giovanni Pisano constructed an immense portal flanked by two secondary portals. The portals are crowned by lunettes and Gothic frontons. Between the portals he constructed a series of Ionic style columns with capitals splendidly ornamented with acanthus scrolls, scenes from the Old Testament and allegorical images.
The rest of the façade was concluded around 1390.
The statues of thinkers, prophets and apostles created as well by Giovanni Pisano, placed at first over the lower part of the façade, have been replaced by copies. The originals are now hosted in the contiguous Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
In the 15th century -wanted by St. Bernardino di Siena (1380-1444) - the wonderful Sun Symbol was set over the main portal. The Sun Symbol represents Jesus Christ.
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What to See
The Cathedrals : Duomo di Siena
Main Monuments : Piazza del Campo , Palazzo Piccolomini
Main Museums : Museo dell' Opera di Siena
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