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Photo © Opera del Duomo di Siena
Photo © Opera del Duomo di Siena

Crypt in the Siena Cathedral

Places of worship

The walls of the building are covered in splendid decorations painted by top artists of the Sienese school

The Crypt in the Siena Cathedral was discovered unexpectedly in 1999 during renovations to the church in via dei Fusari, when portions of the wall paintings were discovered in a room underneath the pulpit in the cathedral.

It took about three years to empty the room and experts, and then art historians and archeologists from all over the world found themselves surrounded by a stunning discovery that would go on to add new and important elements to the history of medieval art: the room, completely painted on all 180 square metres of its walls, dates to the second half of the 1200s. Filled with debris in the 1300s, it remained buried and hidden for almost 700 years.

Crypt of Siena Cathedral
Crypt of Siena Cathedral - Credit: Alessandro Farese

Exceptional paintings, original colours, subjects and intact architecture were all brought to light, offering additional examples of the 13th-century Sienese school and its greatest exponents, including Guido da Siena, Dietisalvi di Speme, Guido di Graziano and Rinaldo da Siena.

The scenes depict episodes of the Old and New Testaments. The Passion of Christ is extraordinary, portraying three important moments: the Crucifixion, Deposition from the Cross and the Entombment.

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