Siena Cathedral is a medieval age church situated in Siena, located 40 miles south of Florence, Italy . Siena is a city in Italy which is known for its black and white colour buildings. It was a part of Roman Catholic marian church and now to Santa Maria Assunta . The Cathedral was designed and built between 1215 – 1263 on the old Cathedral site. It consist of a Latin cross , a dome and a bell tower. Greenish Black and white marble was used both inside and outside with red marble on the façade in the Cathedral. Black and white are the symbolic colour of Siena. There is also a lantern at the top of cathedral which was added by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The history of the church is very heroic and dramatic. At the present location of cathedral there was a 9th centuary church with bishop palace . In 1196 the Cathedral, give charge to the Opera di Santa Maria to construct a new cathedral. Works were started with the north – south section and the main part of cathedral was planned to construct later. The records say there was transport of white and black marbles from 1226 onwards. In 1259-1260 vaults and the transept were constructed. In 1259 Manuello di Ranieri and his son Parri made some wooden choir stalls, which were replaced by cathedral about 100 years later and have disappeared now . A record says in 1264, Rosso Padellaio was paid to construct the copper sphere on top of the dome .In 1939, a construction on the main body was planned to start .It has double the size of old structure due to addition of new Nave and two aisles perpendicular to the existing nave. The construction was begun in the supervision of Giovanni di Agostino, known as a sculptor. In 1348 Construction was halted by the Black Death. Basic errors in the construction were already clear by then, however, and the work was never resumed. The remains of this extension, the outer wall can now be seen to the south of the Duomo . The floor of the uncompleted nave now used as a parking purpose and museum, and yet unfinished, the remains shows the power of Sienese , ambition, and artistic achievement.
Inside the cathedral the pictorial view of the black and white marble pattern on the walls and columns give a wonderful view. Black and white colours are at the coat of arms of the officers of Siena. The horizontal moulding all around the nave and the presbytery( a reserved section) contains 172 plaster busts of popes from the 15th and 16th centuries . The first one is St. Peter and Last one is Lucius III. The extrados of the round arches below this frame shows the busts of 36 emperors. The vaulted ceiling is decorated in blue with golden stars, replacing darkening on the ceiling.
In 1288 , the stained-glass round window in the choir was made to the designs of Duccio. It is one of the oldest remaining examples of Italian stained glass. The stained-glass window in the façade dates from 1549 and denotes the Last Supper. It is design of Pastorino de’ Pastorini.
The presbytery keeps save all the beautiful wooden choir stalls, present between 1363–1397 and extended in the 16th century. Actually there were more than 90 choir stalls, placed in double rows. The cathedral’s treasured pieces of art including The Feast of Herod by Donatello, and works of Bernini and the young Michelangelo converted it into an extraordinary museum of Italian sculpture.The communication between St. Ansanus and St. Margaret, a work of Gothic painting by Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi, brighten a side pedestal of the church until 1799, when it was transferred to the Uff izi of Florence. The funeral monument was erected between 1317 and 1318 by the Sienese sculptor Tino di Camaino of cardinal Riccardo Petroni ( a juris consult of Pope Boniface VIII). Tino succeeded his father as the master builder of the Siena cathedral. The marble memorial in the left transept is the oldest example of 14th-century funeral architecture. It is composed of a highly decorated sarcophagus, held above on the shoulders of four statues. In the pavement, in front of this monument, there is a bronze tombstone of Bishop Giovanni di Bartolomeo Pecci( bishop of Grosseto), designed and made by Donatello in 1427. Looking at a angle from the end of the tomb, gives a view of a three-dimensionality. It was located in front of the high pedestal and transferred to the present location in 1506.In the left transept the Chapel of saint John the Baptist is situated. At the back of this chapel, lies the bronze statue of St. John the Baptist by Donatello. In this chapel the most impressive are the eight frescoes by Pinturicchio, instructed by Alberto Aringhieri, and painted between 1504 and 1505. Repainting of the two was done in 17th century and the third was completely removed in 1868. Thus the Siena Cathedral is one the most beautiful place in Italy holding its natural beauty and welcoming a lot of tourist every day.