The gateway to heaven: Secret walkways and attic rooms open in roof of Siena Cathedral



It is known as 'La Porta del Cielo' - the gateway to heaven.
And looking at the magnificent star-studded ceilings and gilded statues of Siena Cathedral its easy to understand why.
The beautiful interior of the Duomo in Tuscany has drawn tourists for years, but now, after decades of restoration, it is possible to see the 13th Century building from a unique perspective. Visitors are now permitted to climb up to a walkway near the top of the 16-metre high nave via a spiral stone staircase in one of two towers that flank the entrance. 

From there they can enjoy an aerial view of the medieval and Renaissance mosaics that cover the marble floor, as well as getting closer to its ornate vaulted ceiling, which is painted blue with gold stars.
The cathedral itself was originally designed and completed between 1215 and 1263


Eyes down: from the newly opened walkways visitors can enjoy an aerial view of the biblical and mythical scenes depicted in marble in the cathedral floor

Siena Cathedral in Tuscany is home to some unique works of art by the likes of Donatello and a young Michaelangelo

The cathedral's distinctive striped columns and walls are made from black and white marble in a nod to Siena's black and white civic coat of arms



Visitors can access the 16-metre high knave via a stone spiral staircase

The new walkways give visitors stunning views down into the heart of the cathedral