SienaCathedral_Exterior

The exterior of the Cathedral of Siena is a superb example of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture.
Begun in 1200, the main structure was completed by 1215 and construction of the vaults, bell tower and
dome continued through 1264. The facade was built in two stages: the Tuscan Gothic lower facade, with
gargoyles and statues of prophets and apostles was built between 1284-1317. The upper facade was
begun in 1376, inspired by the workwhich was done on Orvieto Cathedral. This page has 30 images
detailing the exterior architecture and facade sculptures of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.

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Images in this section are in three different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Siena Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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Direct Links to the three Galleries in the Photoshelter Siena Collection:

Siena Scenery
Siena Cathedral Exterior
Siena Cathedral Interior

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SienaCathedral_6011M


Siena Cathedral 6011 M
1626 x 1250 (563 KB)

Siena Cathedral was built on the site of a small 9th century church, which was built over a Temple to Minerva.
This church was enlarged in the 12th century, and in 1196 plans for a new Cathedral were created. Construction
began in 1200 and the main structure was complete enough by 1215 for services to begin. Work on the Campanile
(the Romanesque bell tower) was begun in 1226 and completed by 1313. Vaults and transepts were constructed
between 1259-1260. By 1263, the choir and dome had been completed, and the aisles were done by 1284.
In 1284, the foundation stone for the facade was laid, and the lower section was built from 1284 to 1296
under the supervision of Giovanni Pisano, who created a Tuscan Gothic facade with three portals and
sculptures of prophets, philosophers, apostles, mythical animals and gargoyles. During this period,
the nave was raised, requiring a higher facade. Giovanni Pisano left Siena in 1296 to begin work
in Pisa after a disagreement with the Cathedral administrators. Work on the upper facade was
completed under the direction of Camaino di Crescentino between 1299 and 1317. The upper
facade was built higher than originally planned because the nave had again been raised, so the
divisions of the upper facade do not match those of the lower facade. The towers on either side of
the Rose Window are not over the Portal pillars. The upper part of the facade was inspired by work
done on the Orvieto Cathedral, which was itself based upon the facade of the Siena Cathedral, but as
Orvieto Cathedral facade was built based on a uniform plan, it is considered to be the superior design.

Siena_Cathedral_6024


Siena Cathedral 6024
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The dark green and white marble bands of the upper nave and bell tower (Campanile) refer to the colors of the civic coat of arms of Siena (black and white), from the black and white horses of Senius and Aschius, legendary founders of Siena. The Romanesque bell tower has six rows of windows and is topped by an octagonal pyramid and corner spires.

Siena_Cathedral_6024_LC


Siena Cathedral 6024 LC
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The image above is a perspective-corrected version of the image at left. Several of the images of the Cathedral are available both with and without correction of the keystoning effect caused by tilting the camera back (corrected images are designated LC for lens correction).

BellTower_SienaCathedral_6009c


Bell Tower Siena Cathedral 6009c
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Detail of the Romanesque Bell Tower and Dome. Alternating stripes of green and white marble on the bell tower are based on the Balzana, the heraldic shield of Siena. Six courses of round arched windows are on each side of the tower, increasing from one opening to six. On top of the tower is an octagonal pyramid, and pinnacles adorn the corners.

The dome stands on a hexagonal drum. The lantern was added in the 17th century, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

SienaCathedral_FacadeDetail_6018M


Siena Cathedral Facade Detail 6018 M
1000 x 1600 (590 KB)

An M-sized detail crop of the center and right side of the facade showing Giovanni Pisano’s Gothic statuary, the Rose Window and the central and right portals and gable mosaics. The busts in the pediments over the portals were added by Tommaso Redi in the 1730s. The facade sculptures were inspired by the French Gothic Cathedrals, and were new to Italian architecture. In the 19th century, all of the statues were replaced by copies and the originals were moved to the Museo dell’Opera for the purposes of conservation.

Siena_Cathedral_Facade_6018


Siena Cathedral Facade 6018
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The Gothic facade of the Cathedral, from which the previous crop was made.
The light changed from moment to moment, and I have provided images shot
in various different lighting conditions, each taken at a different angle as well.
Detail images of sections of the facade are displayed further down this page.

Siena_Cathedral_Facade_6028


Siena Cathedral Facade 6028
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Two frontal images of the facade taken in the changing light.

The three deeply inset portals are decorated with ornate archivolts (ornamental moldings following the arch) created by Giovanni Pisano. The central lunette contains a bronze trigram of Christ’s name created in the 17th century.

Siena_Cathedral_Facade_6032


Siena Cathedral Facade 6032
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Camaino di Crescentino’s upper facade is dominated by the large Rose Window, framed by Gothic niches which contain half-sculptures of Apostles and Prophets. The central facade and two lateral loggias terminate in triangular gables, each housing a mosaic designed by Alessandro Franchi in 1878.

Mullioned_Gothic_Window_Unfinished_Nave_6185


Mullioned Gothic Window Unfinished Nave 6185
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A 14th c. two-order mullioned Gothic window with medieval crown glass adorns the first archway of the unfinished nave.

Facciatone_Unfinished_Nave_6190


Facciatone Unfinished Nave 6190
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The Facciatone (east facade wall) of the unfinished nave, with people atop the wall providing scale. Even after expansions of the Cathedral, it was decided in 1339 to convert the existing structure into a transept and create an enormous Cathedral which would dwarf the new Santa Maria del Fiore built by their rivals in Florence. The Black Death of 1348 ended the plans, leaving the walls as a monument to Siena’s medieval wealth.

Facciatone_Unfinished_Nave_6201


Facciatone Unfinished Nave 6201
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The construction of the new nave would have more than doubled the size of the Cathedral
(incidentally making it larger than the new Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence).
Directed by Giovanni di Agostino (best known as a sculptor), the construction was halted
by the Black Death of 1348 which killed 80% of the population, reducing Siena to 16,000
people. Errors were discovered in the construction and the work was never resumed, as
the reduced population could not support the cost. The nave now serves as a parking lot
and houses the Museo dell’Opera (the Museum of the Cathedral) in an enclosed aisle.
When it was finally decided that the Nave Extension would never be finished, the work
was resumed on the existing Cathedral under the direction of Domenico di Agostino.

Left_Tower_Siena_Cathedral_6033


Left Tower Siena Cathedral 6033
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The left loggia, gable and tower, replete with gargoyles and Gothic sculptures by Giovanni Pisano. The structure was completed by Camaino di Crescentino (1299-1317).

Left_Tower_Siena_Cathedral_6038


Left Tower Siena Cathedral 6038
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Light on the facade was continually changing, and I took shots in various different lighting conditions. Three of those images are presented here. Note the winged cow (lower right) next to Giovanni Pisano’s sculptures representing Evangelists.

LeftTowerDetail_SienaCathedral_6056M


Left Tower Detail Siena Cathedral 6056 M
1046 x 1600 (559 KB)

An M-sized detail crop of the left loggia, gable and tower.

The gargoyles are goats, dogs, a pig, lions, griffins and dogs with bird beaks.
The golden gable mosaic, created by Venetian artists based upon drawings by
the Sienese painters Luigi Massini and Alessandro Franchi in 1878, depicts the
Presentation of Mary in the Temple. The sculptures are all 19th c. copies of the
Giovanni Pisano originals (moved to the Museo dell’Opera for conservation).

Right_Tower_Siena_Cathedral_6043


Right Tower Siena Cathedral 6043
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The right loggia, gable and tower. Note the Solomonic column in the lower Gothic window of the stair tower. The gargoyles include bat-eared dogs, winged sheep, birds and a dog with a human face. Sculptures represent prophets and apostles.

Right_Tower_Siena_Cathedral_6044


Right Tower Siena Cathedral 6044
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I have provided images with and without clouds, with differing levels of contrast caused by the changing light. The gable mosaic represents the Nativity of Jesus (created by Venetian artists based on drawings by Alessandro Franchi in 1878).

RightTowerDetail_SienaCathedral_6047M


Right Tower Detail Siena Cathedral 6047 M
1200 x 1600 (536 KB)

A large, M-sized detail crop of the right gable mosaic and upper stair tower.
Mosaic: the Nativity of Jesus, by Venetian artists (design by Alessandro Franchi).
The gargoyle in the bottom right corner is a dog with a human face. Quite creative.

Central_Gable_Siena_Cathedral_6036


Central Gable Siena Cathedral 6036
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The half-sculptures in Gothic niches around the Rose Window represent prophets and apostles, and were executed in the early 1300s by Camaino di Crescentino. Archangel Michael complete with spear looks out over Siena from atop the gable.

CentralGableDetail_SienaCathedral_6036M


Central Gable Detail Siena Cathedral 6036 M
1020 x 1600 (621 KB)

A large M-sized detail crop of the central gable mosaic, which represents the Coronation of the Virgin, created by Venetian artists based on drawings by Sienese painters Luigi Massini and Alessandro Franchi in 1878.

Central_Gable_Siena_Cathedral_6048


Central Gable Siena Cathedral 6048
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This image of the central gable with the sculpture of Archangel Michael and pillars was
taken in somewhat more subdued light less than three minutes after the previous shot.
As mentioned, the light was changing radically from moment to moment. In the center
of the right pillar, and in the center of the array around the left spire, you can see other
gargoyles representing dogs with human faces. The mosaic (Coronation of the Virgin)
is surrounded by a sculpted stucco triangle composed of winged heads of cherubs.

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Images in this section are in three different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Siena Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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Direct Links to the three Galleries in the Photoshelter Siena Collection:

Siena Scenery
Siena Cathedral Exterior
Siena Cathedral Interior

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Bronze_Doors_Siena_Cathedral_6204


Bronze Doors Siena Cathedral 6204
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The bronze doors of the central portal stand over the replicas of the Late-Medieval inlaid marble floor which depicts the Ceremonies of Ordination, created by Nastagio di Gaspare, 1450 (the originals are in the Museo dell’Opera). The doors, with scenes depicting the Glorification of the Virgin, were executed by the celebrated sculptor Enrico Manfrini in 1958.

Bronze_Doors_Siena_Cathedral_6205


Bronze Doors Siena Cathedral 6205
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Enrico Manfrini created a number of monumental doors for cathedrals, as well as sculptures, medals, coins, and all of the Popes from Pius II through John Paul II. He was going to make doors dedicated to St. Catherine of Siena and St. Bernardino for the other portals, but controversy ended these projects.

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Central Portal Tympanum Siena Cathedral 6051
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The lunette over the central portal, with the 14th century bronze Trigram of the Name of Christ under the red and white marble of the archivolt. At the right is King Solomon standing over a lion, by Giovanni Pisano. In the pediment tondo is a half sculpture of Beato Giovanni Colombini by Tommaso Redi in the 1730s. Below the Rose Window, a row of Gothic niches with half-sculptures of prophets and apostles by Camiano di Crescentino accented with red marble.

Left_Portal_Tympanum_Siena_Cathedral_6060


Left Portal Tympanum Siena Cathedral 6060
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The lunette over the left portal, with the heads of satyrs in the keystones of the archivolt over a lion. At right is King David standing over a lion, by Giovanni Pisano. In the pediment tondo is a half sculpture of Beato Ambrogio Sansedoni by Tommaso Redi in the 1730s. Above the pediment are Gothic sculptures of an apostle, and angel, a lion and the winged cow by Giovanni Pisano. At the left of the archivolt stands a Pisano statue of a Sibyl. Originals of the sculptures are in the Museo.

CentralPortal_Detail_SienaCathedral_6051M


Central Portal Detail Siena Cathedral 6051 M
1500 x 1290 (933 KB)

A large M-sized detail crop of the Central Portal Lunette, with the 14th c. bronze
 Trigram of the Name of Christ under the red and white marble of the archivolt.
At the right is King Solomon standing over a lion, by Giovanni Pisano.

LeftPortal_Detail_SienaCathedral_6060M


Left Portal Detail Siena Cathedral 6060 M
1500 x 1290 (754 KB)

A large M-sized detail crop of the Left Portal Lunette, with the heads of satyrs in
the keystones of the archivolt over a lion. At right is King David standing over a lion,
 by Giovanni Pisano. Note the gargoyle of a dog with the beak of a bird over King David.

Gothic_Statuary_Siena_Cathedral_6052


Gothic Statuary Siena Cathedral 6052
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Detail of the Gothic sculptures on the right side of the facade, depicting biblical figures, a winged lion, a griffin, a horse, a sheep, birds, dogs, and other mythical creatures by Giovanni Pisano (13th c.). Many of these sculptures are replicas.

She-Wolf_Siena_Cathedral_6181


She-Wolf Siena Cathedral 6181
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The right side of the cathedral, with the She-Wolf of Siena nursing Romulus and Remus. This sculpture of the Lupa Senese was allegedly stolen from the Temple of Apollo in Rome by Senius and Aschius, the founders of Siena.

Siena_Cathedral_at_Sunset_6351_LC


Siena Cathedral at Sunset 6351 LC
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A perspective-corrected image of the Cathedral of Siena at Sunset, with
the first arch of the “Duomo Nuovo” (the 14th century extension) at right.

Siena_Cathedral_at_Sunset_6354_LC


Siena Cathedral at Sunset 6354 LC
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Perspective corrected image of the Cathedral of Siena at Sunset at a more oblique angle.

Monumento_della_Lupa_Siena_Cathedral_6207


Monumento della Lupa Siena Cathedral 6207
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On the left side of the foundation plinth of the Cathedral of Siena
is the Monumento della Lupa, balancing the She-Wolf of Siena on
the column on the right side (allegedly stolen by Senius, shown earlier).
—  Below is a resized detail crop of the sculpture (no linked image) —

Monumento_dellaLupa_SienaCathedral_6207cs
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Images in this section are in three different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Siena Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


Direct Links to the three Galleries in the Photoshelter Siena Collection:

Siena Scenery
Siena Cathedral Exterior
Siena Cathedral Interior

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Siena


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