At the end of Via del Capitano, you come to Piazza del Duomo with its fairytale view of the cathedral. The variously colored marbles, the beautiful examples of sculpture, the gold of the mosaics, the soaring cusps and pinnacles, the arch of the dome, the lofty two-tone belltower, all seems straight from a fairly tale.
The cathedral of Sienna is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption and was built in the second half of the 13th century. We know that the essential structure was completed in 1215, the dome in 1264 and, between 1284 and 1296, the great sculptor and architect Giovanni Pisano designed and built the lower section of the façade.
In 1339, both the population and wealth of Siena were increasing and, consequently, so was the city’s rivalry with Florence where they had already begun the construction of their grandiose cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It was therefore decided to build a much larger cathedral in Sienna – today’s Duomo would have been only one of the two transepts planned. However, on account of the terrible plague of 1348 and the accompanying economic depression, along with a blow-out of the proposed building’s costs, the ambitious work was cancelled in 1355. And so, it was decided to complete the part that had already been started. In 1382, the apse was finished and around the same time the façade also.
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