educational services

The Opera della Metropolitana's Education Department has devised tours and activities for schools from kindergarten through to sixth form throughout the monumental complex comprising the Cathedral, the Museum, the Baptistry and the Crypt.

The Opera della Metropolitana's Education Department has devised tours and activities for schools from kindergarten through to sixth form throughout the monumental complex comprising the Cathedral, the Museum, the Baptistry and the Crypt. The scheme aims to involve students in the history of Siena Cathedral from its origins to the 19th century, so we have planned a series of educational tours designed to allow students to explore the themes, approaches and "statutes" of Sienese culture that reflect the city's role in broader artistic movements rather than reflecting purely sectoral or marginal aspects. The outstanding richness and variety of the collections in the monumental complex of Siena Cathedral allows teachers to supplement the activities in their school curricula with tours designed to further their students' cultural education and maturity.

Tours led by art historians are available every day of the week (weekdays only).
Reservations are required.
For INFORMATION and RESERVATIONS, please contact:
tel. +39 0577 286300

For detailed information on the tours available, please contact our cultural office:

tel. +39 0577 530032

You can choose between educational tours and guided tours:

educational tours

Educational tours (for children aged 6 to 12) are tailored to cater for each age group and explore certain specific themes relating to the story of the Cathedral and the museum complex as a whole.

guided tours

Guided tours (lower and upper secondary schools) illustrate the monumental complex's most important art historical aspects following traditional itineraries.
Sena Vetus Civitas Virginis
This tour aims to acquaint students with the cult of the Virgin Mary in the history and art of the city of Siena, with a particular focus on the Cathedral. From the Madonna of the Large Eyes and Duccio's stained-glass windows with the Stories of the Virgin to the Madonna del Voto or Madonna of the Vow and the Maestà with its accompanying stories, the tour explores the iconographical categories relevant to the Virgin Mary in an attempt to grasp the extent of the Sienese people's devotion to their "patron", from the Madonna Enthroned, the Madonna of Humility, the Madonna of the Milk and the Stories of the Life of the Virgin right up to the Assumption. During the tour we also examine the techniques and materials used in the works of art that we inspect.
The Medieval Building Site
The second tour explores the various phases in the Cathedral's construction from its origins up to and including the most recent work. In this connection, we look at the function and tasks of the Opera della Metropolitana, the organisation charged with caring for the fabric of the Cathedral since the Middle Ages with a host of architects, sculptors and skilled craftsmen at its beck and call. The tour focuses in particular on the "crypt", the "former foundry" and the remains of what is traditionally known as the "new Cathedral" in Piazza Jacopo della Quercia.
Siena Cathedral's Floor
Siena Cathedral contains numerous masterpieces from every age but its marble mosaic inlay and graffito floor is in many ways its most prized possession. Giorgio Vasari certainly considered it the "most beautiful..., largest and most magnificent floor ever made". The floor we see today is the product of a programme implemented between the 14th and the 19th centuries. The preparatory cartoons for the fifty-six inlay panels were supplied by leading artists, all of them Sienese save for the Umbrian painter Bernardino di Betto known as Pinturicchio, who designed the inlay depicting the Mount of Wisdom in 1505. An iconographical study of the various panels reveals a strong single programme behind the pathway mapped out for the visitor from the moment he or she enters the "most chaste temple of the Virgin", via the message of the ancient philosophers, the Sibylline prophesies and the story of the Children of Israel, up to the time of salvation accomplished and achieved in the figure of Christ who is constantly evoked but never actually portrayed in the floor since He is present on the altar towards which the artistic and spiritual pathway converges.
Harking Back to the Classical World in Renaissance Art
This tour highlights the role of the Classical world in the age of the Renaissance. The rediscovery of the ancient world had an impact on both the style and the choice of subject matter of such artists as Jacopo della Quercia, Vecchietta, Donatello and Michelangelo. In that light, we explore some of the Cathedral floor panels depicting such Classical figures as the Sibyls and the philosphers, or the frescoes in the Piccolomini Library illustrating the deeds of Pope Pius II, the Holy Saturday font in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist (where the Stories of Hercules are twinned with stories from Genesis), the baptismal font in S. Giovanni and the 15th and 16th century paintings in the Museo dell'Opera.
Sculpture in Siena Cathedral
Siena Cathedral is home to numerous sculptures, masterpieces of art from every age, carved by a number of truly great artists: Nicola Pisano who produced the celebrated Pulpit between late 1265 and November 1268, Donatello who cast an intense bronze effigy of St. John the Baptist now in the chapel of the same name (c. 1455-7), Michelangelo who carved the four statues set in the niches of the Piccolomini Altar by order of Cardinal Francesco Tedeschini Piccolomini in 1501, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini who carved the statues of St. Jerome and St. Mary Magdalen, which now grace two niches in the Cappella del Voto, in Rome in 1661 and 1663.
Painting in Siena Cathedral
The paintings in Siena Cathedral, be they panel, canvas or fresco cycle, offer a rich and many-faceted overview not simply of Sienese art but of the broader cultural picture in Italy from the 13th to the 19th centuries. The oldest painting is a picture known as the Madonna del Voto, or Madonna of the Vow. Attributed to Dietisalvi di Speme, it is of the greatest religious and civic importance for the city of Siena. The Renaissance is well represented by the lavish decorations in the Piccolomini Library built off the Cathedral's north aisle where the priest's house once stood. Alongside the Library, the Chapel of St. John the Baptist hosts a series of scenes frescoed by Pinturicchio but partly repainted by Francesco Rustici and Cesare Maccari. And finally, artists from the Mannerist (Domenico Beccafumi), Late Mannerist (Ventura Salimbeni) and Baroque (Carlo Maratti) eras, or Caravaggesque painters such as Mattia Preti, all contributed over the centuries to the embellishment of one of Europe's most illustrious cathedrals.