Paradise in Siena: unveiled the marble floor of the Duomo

From 27 June to 31 July and from 18 August to 18 October 2023, the extraordinary marble floor will be discovered in the Cathedral of Siena, usually protected from trampling by visitors except for two temporary windows a year. It is an absolute masterpiece in art history, both for the construction technique and the great symbolic and iconographic value, created in over five hundred years, from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century.

Interior of the Cathedral of Siena
Courtesy Opera del Duomo di Siena

The marble carpet, built using the marble inlay and graffiti technique, saw the collaboration of the most important Sienese masters, including Sassetta, Domenico di Bartolo, Matteo di Giovanni and Domenico Beccafumi. The latter, in particular, renewed the technique of the marble inlay giving life to surprising light-dark shades, including the spectacular frieze with Moses causing water to flow from the rock.

The floor is designed to transport the visitor on a path of meditation and purification, passing through the depiction of philosophers and prophets, sibyls and stories from the Old Testament. The central nave is the absolute protagonist thanks to the alternation of allegorical figures and narrative scenes, with the figure of Hermes Trismegistus, the first great theologian of antiquity, to welcome visitors as soon as they enter.

Detail of the pavement in the Cathedral of Siena
Courtesy Opera del Duomo di Siena

A book has been dedicated to this monumental work by Marilena Caciorgna, professor of iconography and classical tradition at the University of Siena, active in the field of enhancement of the artistic heritage of the Opera del Duomo. The volume, the result of over thirty years of work, analyzes the representations in detail and explains the message promulgated by the iconographic apparatus of the pavement.