Palazzo Pubblico, also known as Palazzo Comunale, is a medieval palace in Siena, located in the beautiful Piazza del Campo. Currently, the palace houses the Civic Museum of Siena on the first floor, and the city’s Town Hall on the second floor.
After the Council of Nine (Governo dei Nove) came to power in 1287, some ancient buildings in Piazza del Campo were purchased and subsequently demolished, to make room for a new public palace.
The construction of Palazzo Pubblico began in 1297, and by 1310 the building was already completed. The tower of the palace, known as Torre del Mangia, was built between 1325 and 1348.
By 1350, the second and the third floors of the central body, and the Loggia on the second floor facing Piazza del Mercato were also completed.
The marble Cappella di Piazza (Chapel of the Square) was built in 1352 to thank the Virgin Mary for the end of the black plague that struck the city in 1348.
The last floor of the palace was added only in 1680 by the architect Carlo Fontana.
The central body of the palace has four floors, while the two side wings have only three. The facade of the ground floor is built of travertine, while the upper floors are made of bricks. The last floor of the central body is crowned by battlements.
The ground floor has a series of arches, some framing the portals and the others framing large windows. The windows of the second and third floors have three Gothic arches resting on columns, enclosed by a larger arch, each decorated with the city’s coat of arms in black and white.
In the center of the facade, on the last floor, there is a large disk with the trigram of Christ, while below, on the second floor, we can find the Medici coat of arms, evidence of Florentine rule of Siena starting with 1560. Next to the Medici coat of arms, there are two other marble coats of arms, one belonging to the city, and the other representing the Lion of the People.
Through the left portal of the facade, next to Torre del Mangia, you enter the courtyard entitled Cortile del Podestà. Entirely in terracotta, decorated with ancient coats of arms, the courtyard has a portico on four sides, with large three-mullioned windows on the second floor. The courtyard also serves as the entrance to the palace and to the tower’s staircase.
The Civic Museum of Siena, inaugurated in the 1930s, features the beautiful frescoes and decorations of Palazzo Pubblico. Here, you will also find many important works of art, including paintings from the 16th up to the 18th centuries, a collection of golden religious objects, wooden sculptures and ancient decorations.
The museum preserves the famous fresco of the Allegory and Effects of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, one of the most significant representations of the European 14th century, and other famous works by Simone Martini, Duccio di Buoninsegna, Sodoma and Beccafumi.
HOW TO GET THERE
Palazzo Pubblico is located about 1.9 kilometers away from the Siena railway station. The closest bus stop is Angolo Via Delle Terme, located about 160 meters away, in Via di Città, on the bus Line 590.
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