Basilica di San Domenico

Basilica of San Domenico in Siena

Visiting the basilica of San Domenico in Siena is a must-do. This Renaissance church has much to offer: magnificent frescoes by the famous painter Sodoma, an imposing nave and the relics of St Catherine. If you decide to visit this beautiful church, below you will find the history of the basilica, the works that can be admired inside and all the details you need.

Basilica of San Domenico Siena: between style and history

The basilica of San Domenico in Siena is an important church dedicated to Saint Domenico of Guzmán, founder of the Dominican order. Known for its imposing size and Gothic architecture, it is one of the most important places of worship in the city and one of the most beautiful masterpieces of Gothic art in Italy.

Construction began in 1226 and was not completed until 1465. The construction work was troubled from the outset and several fires reduced some areas of the church to its foundations in the years 1443, 1456 and 1531 respectively. Thus, significant renovations were necessary to create the basilica as we know it today.

The church is located in a panoramic position, close to the Fortezza Medicea and the house-museum of St Catherine. The façade of the church is decorated with numerous frescoes and sculptures inside. On the outside, looking at the façade, one can see the rose window by Giovanni Pisano, which lends character and liveliness to the façade. 

The basilica is approximately 77m long and 30m wide. At its highest point, it is 27m tall. This church has a gabled roof covering the nave. The interior has an Egyptian cross plan with a single nave. Large, majestic cross vaults rise over the nave. 

To the left of the nave is the chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas, on the right is the chapel of St Catherine of Siena where the head-relic of the saint is kept. 

Basilica of San Domenico Siena: the Sodoma frescoes

The basilica, symbol of the city of Siena, houses frescoes of extraordinary beauty, created by the illustrious Renaissance artist Sodoma. These paintings were created between 1525 and 1530. The chapel of St Catherine was skilfully decorated with quicklime pigments and natural dyes. 

The luminous environment immersing you was created by the choice of colours, which contribute to the play of light and shadows, creating a very strong visual impact and realistic sense of depth. 

These 16th-century frescoes depict the beheading of Niccolò di Tuldo, who was sentenced to death and whom Catherine had converted shortly before his death. Inside the chapel of St Catherine, there are frescoes of the Ecstasy of St Catherine and the Fainting caused by the stigmata. They were created in 1526, respectively. Finally, among the works created by Sodoma, we cannot fail to mention ‘Saints Luke and Jerome’, located in the upper part of the basilica.  

Basilica of San Domenico Siena: prices and opening hours 

The basilica is open to the public every day from 07:30 to 18:30. Admission to visit the basilica of San Domenico is free of charge every day of the week.

The beauty and majesty of this basilica will undoubtedly leave you impressed, housing works of art of great artistic and cultural value which will contribute to a fantastic memory of your visit to the basilica of San Domenico.

I Comuni di Terre di Siena