Tour Locations | From the Golden Age to the Glory of Siena’s Present Traditions
Turn right here please and stop in the middle of this small square.
Standing in front of this facade a lot of people would imagine this must be the entrance to the Duomo: they could not be more wrong! The lower part is the access to the Baptistery whereas, above the frieze where the decoration is clearly not finished, the choir of the Cathedral in Siena would be hiding.
In a way, the Baptistery is an addition to the main church from when an expansion took place at the beginning of the 1300s. Yet we know that even more ambitious dreams were underway.
In the Christian tradition of the Middle Ages, adults, as well as children, needed to be baptized in order to be admitted into any church: generally, such buildings would be erected right across from the main door of the Cathedral. You can still see examples of this visible in Pisa or in Florence.
There is evidence of an older baptistery in front of the Duomo in Siena too but it was demolished and rebuilt on this side some years later.
The interior is not as impressive as the main Cathedral but something special is visible here: the baptismal font is one of the highlight of Renaissance art and the result of a peaceful collaboration among famous sculptors as Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Jacopo della Quercia.
Considering that some of them came from Florence and others from Siena, two cities that were at war for 400 years, this is really a memorable exception.
Facing the facade, please take the first street on the right. You'll spot an arch on the upper level.