It’s not normally available for viewing, but for a short period between the end of summer and early fall, the magnificent inlaid marble mosaic floor of Siena’s Cathedral is uncovered for everyone to marvel at.
The fiberboard panels that cover the fragile mosaics for most of the year, to protect them from foot traffic, are generally removed after the Palio for a couple of months. This year, you can watch this masterpiece that took five centuries to complete until October 27.
Giorgio Vasari, the art historian who penned the seminal Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, described the Duomo’s floor as the “largest, most beautiful and most magnificent ever made,” and he knew a thing or two about art.
The mosaics works comprises 56 panels covering 14,000 square feet. They were crafted between the 14th and 19th centuries by Senese artists, with the exception of Pinturicchio, who was from Umbria and painted the Monte della Sapienza (Mount of Wisdom).
Now your gaze can space from the entrance to the apse without any visual obstacle. The mosaics tell their stories through images; the underlying message is an invitation to give up wealth in order to devote oneself to learning; they portray a symbolic journey in search of the highest values of the human spirit.
The Siena Cathedral, or Duomo, was designed and completed between 1215 and 1263.
With one ticket, you can access all of the Duomo complex’s sites, including the so-called Porta del Cielo (Gate of Heaven), which allows you to look at the inside of the cathedral from the attics, a spectacle that is even more impressive now that the mosaics floor is uncovered.
Open every day 10:30 am to 7 pm, 9.30 to 5:30 on Sunday.