The Cathedral (Duomo) of Siena is one of the most beautiful Romanesque-Gothic church buildings in Italy. Opened to the public for the first time on 2013, the hidden structure of the cathedral offers spectacular views onto the architecture and art of this building. The Gate of Heaven Tour is back by popular demand – and you can be one of the few visitors allowed “closer to heaven.”
The visit is allowed only in small groups (maximum 18 people). Accompanied by security staff, you will experience the secret places heretofore known only to the architects and workers who built this magnificent edifice.
The Gate of Heaven Tour
Duration: 30 minutes
March 9 to October 31, 2015
- From Monday to Saturday: 10:30am to 6:00pm, each 30 minutes
- Sundays: from 2:00pm to 6:00pm, each 30 minutes
All visitors will receive the Roof Map, a useful visit tool that becomes a gadget to take home, available in the following languages: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and Russian.
Reservations must be made with a minimum of 1-day notice.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The time you select on the order form is your preferred time. The museum or attraction will automatically confirm the closest available time, which can be anytime during opening hours on the selected date, if your preferred time is no longer available.
Once a confirmation code has been assigned to your reservation, we can refund the cost of unused tickets, also for no shows, minus a service fee (reservation fee and online booking fee).
HOW TO REACH SIENA:
BUS LINE FLORENCE – SIENA (SITA): Click here for information regarding this line
From the North: A1 Highway – exit “Firenze Certosa”. Take “Superstrada Firenze Siena” - exit “Siena Porta San Marco.” Follow indications to “Il Fagiolone” Parking, Strada di Pescaia, to pass the checkpoint and continue until Porta San Marco, where passengers will be able to start the visit of Siena.
From the South: A1 Highway – exit “Bettolle,” then, take “Raccordo Autostradale Bettolle Siena” - entrance Siena West Ring Road - “Siena Porta San Marco.” Follow indications to “Il Fagiolone” Parking, Strada di Pescaia, to pass the checkpoint and continue until Porta San Marco, where passengers will be able to start the visit of Siena.
IMPORTANT GUIDELINES FOR VISITORS TO THE ROOF STRUCTURE
- Shoes: For safety reasons, the wearing of high-heeled shoes is STRONGLY discouraged. Visitors are advised to wear close-toed shoes with anti-slip soles (no slippers, thongs, sandals, clogs, or footwear with leather soles).
- Caution – mind your head: Visitors are asked to pay the utmost attention to the height of ceilings and passageways.
- Heights: The tour is not recommended for people suffering from heart conditions or dizziness, and anyone not in a suitable state of health to climb up to and visit the rooftop structures.
- Visitors are advised to carry cameras, mobile phones, eyeglasses etc. on a shoulder strap or tied to the wrist in order to avoid accidental falls.
- Children: Children must be held by the hand and kept under control at any time.
- Fire: Smoking is prohibited in all areas, inside the building as well as outside and at lookouts.
- Entrance/exit: Visitors are informed that for safety reasons, stopping at the winding staircase in the entrance/exit area is permitted only for the time strictly necessary to deposit or claim umbrellas (other personal effects cannot be deposited).
- Depositing personal belongings: Visitors carrying backpacks or large bulky bags will not be admitted. Visitors are advised that personal effects cannot be deposited in the OPA Museum Complex.
- Visitors displaying behavior that is illegitimate, illicit, harmful, or is dangerous for themselves and for other people present, such as failure to comply with the safety indications given at the time of booking and/or during the visit, will be asked to leave and have no right to reimbursement.
Save time ordering: Add all tickets for museums and other services you want into your basket, then fill in the form and send your request.
PLEASE NOTE: Immediately after submitting an order, you will receive an email with your order summary plus a second email confirming your successful payment. A confirmation email with links to the vouchers will be sent one business day after you place your order (Monday afternoon for orders submitted on Friday and during the weekend). Please make sure that your anti-spam filter does not block automatic emails from [email protected]
The magnificent facade of the Duomo, as the Cathedral is called, is flanked by two majestic towers ending in many spire-like forms that shoot upwards. Inside these towers, practically invisible to visitors, winding staircases lead up to the ‘heavens’ of the Cathedral.
An itinerary reserved for small groups accompanied by expert guides begins above the starry vault of the right aisle. You will indeed walk above the church and experience unusual points of view both inside and outside of the Cathedral.
From the vantage point of the polychrome stained glass windows depicting the Apostles by Ulisse De Matteis, you'll look onto the famous church floor and the principal sculptural monuments, as well as into the dome with the representation of Sienese saints, Saint Catherine and Saint Bernardino.
From the balcony of the dome, you will see the high altar, the copy of the stained glass window by Duccio di Buoninsegna with the “mandorla” of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the center, and sculptural masterpieces. From the left aisle, you will look onto a splendid panorama with the Basilica of San Domenico, the Medici Fortress, the entire dome of the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist, and the surrounding countryside up to hills known as the Montagnola Senese.
Then, you will step behind the facade, at the balcony that looks out onto Piazza del Duomo and the view of Santa Maria della Scala, and enter the gallery on the counter-facade. From here, you'll have an overall view of the nave, seeing the heads of popes and emperors from above, as well as the inlay work representing the philosophers of the ancient world.
The image of the “gate of heaven” refers to Genesis 28:10-22. In this bible chapter, a ladder appears to Jacob in his dream, a ladder that reaches heaven, with the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
In his dream, God promises Jacob the earth on which he has slept and an immense lineage. When he rises, Jacob exclaims “This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven,” a verse used by the liturgy of the catholic mass in dedicating cathedrals. In the litany of Loreto, the ‘gate of heaven’ also refers to the Virgin Mary as the Mother of Christ and of humanity, she is the ‘Queen assumed into Heaven.’
The Gate of Heaven itinerary will give you a different understanding of the dedication of the Cathedral of Siena to the Assumption of the Madonna, and the strong connection the people of Siena have had with the Virgin Mary for centuries – a connection reflected in the Siennese motto “Sena vetus civitas Virginis” (“Siena, ancient city of the Virgin”).
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