The Floor of the Siena Cathedral - “in the dazzling sunshine of its marble and terracotta” (Mario Luzi) - is the unique space in which Siena, in a single glance, holds both the City of Earth and the City of Heaven.
Once again, the monumental complex of the Cathedral has managed to "read" the current times and proposed uncovering the floor to symbolise a safe pathway, a journey in search of the greatest values of the human soul to "bring delight and joy to strangers, and to bring honor, prosperity and growth to the city and its citizens ” (Consitution of Siena 1309).
While the floor was uncovered, the Cathedral welcomed over 360,000 people to admire the precious marble not just for its historical and artistic depth, but also for its unique message: look for eternal Wisdom in humanity’s history. Archbishop Augusto Paolo Lojudice, because of the current difficulties we find ourselves in, therefore deemed it appropriate to accept the city’s request, entrusting the task to the Rector of the Opera della Metropolitana di Siena, Guido Pratesi, so that this unique masterpiece could remain open for as long as possible.
The exceptional opening of the Cathedral’s floor has therefore been confirmed from 4 to 26 November and from 10 to 20 December 2020.
In rememberance of the Cathedral’s solemn Dedications, which traditionally took place on November 18, 1179 by the Sienese Pope Alexander III, visitors will be able to wander through the Cathedral’s churchyard, past the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (which depicts the Temple, acting as an invitation to enter the Cathedral with humility). The floor of the Cathedral thus reinterprets the Temple of Jerusalem mentioned by Solomon in the Old Testament: "but he beautifully paved the floor of the temple with extremely precious marble".
In front of the entrance door there is also an inscription recalling the figurehead of the temple, the Virginis Templum, the House of the Virgin Mary: "CASTISSIMUM VIRGINIS TEMPLUM CASTE MEMENTO INGREDI". This inscription explains the enduring bond that Sienese citizens have had with their 'Patroness and Queen' over the centuries: Sena vetus civitas Virginis. The Madonna is also defined as Sedes Sapientiae (the seat of Wisdom) and the inscription is immediately followed by the famous inlay of the Hermes Mercury "Trismegistus" (thrice greatest) Egyptian sage, enigmatic philosopher, and seeker of a hidden Wisdom that would prepare the world for the advent of Christ, Wisdom incarnate.
From November to December, in accordance with the liturgical calendar, visitors will be able to 'listen' to the Sibyls that herald the birth of Christ in the side aisles,: "From the sublime abode of the heavens the Lord looked upon his humble servants and a Jewish virgin will bear his son in the cradles of earth ”(Hebrew Sibyl).
In addition to the Cathedral floor, the complete OpaSiPass and Porta del Cielo itinerary allows visits to the Opera Museum, access to the so-called "Crypt" and the Baptistery.
The "itinerary" for the uncovering of the Cathedral floor, at the Door of Heaven, entitled Virginis Templum (Siena, Cathedral, Crypt, Baptistery), published in five languages, will guide the visitor around the monumental complex of the Cathedral. The book contains an easy “floor path” clearly marked by white and dark green ornamental marbel patterns, acting as a “guide” in the “guide”.
Among the services offered there will also be guided tours. Available in various languages, professionals will lead visitors around this extraordinary masterpiece.
The uncovering, alongside other services, was promoted by the Opera della Metropolitana di Siena, in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Siena - Colle di Val d’Elsa - Montalcino, and is organized by Opera - Civita.