Piccolomini Library Siena

The Piccolomini Library is located inside the Cathedral of Siena. Built by Pope Pius III in honor of Pius II, the library is famous for the frescoes painted by Pinturicchio and the sculpture group ” The Three Graces”.

Piccolomini Library Siena

Useful information

Piccolomini Library Siena
Pinturicchio fresco, themed “Pius II as Ambassador to the Court of Scotland”.

The address of the Libreria Piccolomini is that of the Duomo itself, namely Piazza del Duomo 8 – 53100 Siena, Italy ;(tel. +39 0577286300). Opening hours: From 1 March to 31 October from 10:30 to 19:00 (Sundays and holidays from 13:30 to 18:00); from 1 November to – 28 February from 10:30 to 17:30 (Sundays and holidays from 13:30 to 17:30). Admission: With the Opa Si Pass you have access to the Library and the Cathedral itself, the Museo dell’Opera and the view from the Facciatone, the Crypt and the Baptistery. From January 1 to October 31 the card costs 12 Euros, from December 26 to January 6 10 Euros, and the rest of the year 8 Euros.

History and description

The Piccolomini Library is located along the northwest side of the cathedral. The library was commissioned between 1492 and 1495 by Cardinal Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini (the later Pope Pius III).

This was done in honor of his uncle Enea Silvio Piccolomini, or the former Pope Pius II. Moreover, it did make for a nice place to house the family library.

To do this, some rooms of the former rectory were converted into one large room, which one can enter through a bronze door.

What to see

The exterior of the library is lined with a richly worked marble decoration by Marrina in 1497.

After the death of Pius III, the library was decorated with wall and ceiling paintings executed by Pinturicchio. The ten paintings show as many important events in the life of Pope Pius II, while the entrance door depicts the coronation as pope of Pius III himself. it took Pinturicchio seven years, from 1502 till 1509, to finish the cycle.

The center of the room is taken up by the famous sculpture group the “Three Graces”, a 3rd century Roman copy of a Greek original. The Cardinal purchased the work especially for the library.

In display cases below the frescoes are a number of large antiphonaries (choir books with hymns), properties of the Cathedral and the Santa Maria della Scala hospital. Between 1469 and 1475, these books were decorated with miniatures by Liberale da Verona, Girolamo da Cremona, Sano di Pietro, and others.

Piccolomini Library Siena


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