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. SHORT HISTORY 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. ARCHITECTURE The central body of the palace has four floors, while the two side wings have Read more [...]
With a historical center that has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Siena is one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany and, at the same time, one of the most visited cities in Italy. The main attractions are the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Duomo di Siena), Piazza del Campo with Palazzo Pubblico and its slender Torre del Mangia, medieval palaces like Palazzo Salimbeni, Palazzo Sansedoni, or Palazzo Tolomei, and beautiful churches like the Basilica of San Domenico and the Basilica of San Francesco.
With its unique shell shape, Piazza del Campo, the main square of Siena, stands as one of most beautiful in Italy and the world. Renowed as the place where Palio di Siena is held twice a year, Piazza del Campo is a perfect example of cultural and architectural integrity, invaluable for humanity. SHORT HISTORY The first documented information about the square dates back to 1169, describing the arrangement of Il Campo, referring both to the current Piazza del Campo and to the near Piazza del Mercato (Market Square) as a singular area. Starting with 1193, the area was divided in two, and until 1270, the space was used for fairs and markets. In 1262, the first measures to improve the layout of the square were taken, imposing among other things the obligation to build only buildings with mullioned windows and forbidding the construction of terraces. The history of the square is strongly intertwined with that of Palazzo Pubblico, began in 1297 and completed in 1310. At the same time, private palaces were built in the square, Torre dell Mangia was raised between 1325 and 1344, and the square was paved with fishbone-patterned red brick and divided by eight lines Read more [...]
The Cathedral of Siena, dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, is located in the historical center of the city, in Piazza del Duomo. A great exemple of Romanesque-Gothic architecture, the Cathedral of Siena is one of the most beautiful churches in Italy. SHORT HISTORY It seems that the current Cathedral of Siena replaced a first church dedicated to Saint Mary, built around the 9th century, which in turn replaced an ancient temple dedicated to Minerva. The first documented information about the building of the Cathedral dates back to 1226, when the first costs and contracts related to the construction were recorded. Probably, the works began some time before that, because the consecration tooked place, according to the tradition, on November 18, 1179. Between 1238 and 1285, the church was administered by the monks of San Galgano. From 1284 to 1297, Giovanni Pisano was responsible for the construction of the lower part of the facade, completed between 1299 and 1317 by Camaino di Crescentino, father of the sculptor Tino di Camaino. The bell-tower, at a height of 77 meters, was finished in 1313. The works were completed in 1370. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is Read more [...]
Palazzo Sansedoni is a medieval palace located on the northern side of Piazza del Campo, in Siena. Today, the palace houses the Monte dei Paschi di Siena Foundation. SHORT HISTORY The palace takes its name from the noble Sansedoni family, one of the most powerful families of Siena during the Middle Ages. Palazzo Sansedoni was built at the beginning of the 13th century, by joining several ancient buildings. In 1339, the architect Agostino di Giovanni oversaw the reconstruction and expansion of the palace. The majestic brick facade of the palace facing the square dates back to an 18th-century renovation in Gothic style by the architect Ferdinando Ruggieri. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The concave facade of Palazzo Sansedoni, which follows the curvature of the square, is composed of four orders, three of them with trifore mullioned windows. The facade is topped by battlements above a frieze of round arches. The tower of the palace, positioned asymmetrically to the left of the building, was truncated in 1760, because Torre del Mangia, located nearby, had to be the tallest building in the square. Inside, various rooms have 18th-century decorations, work of Francesco Melani, Giuseppe Melani and Gian Domenico Ferretti. Anton Domenico Gabbiani Read more [...]
The Basilica of San Francesco is a Romanesque church in Siena, located in the homonymous square. Dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, the church is officiated by the Order of Friars Minor Conventual. SHORT HISTORY The Franciscans arrived in Siena shortly after the death of Saint Francis in 1226. Between 1228 and 1255, a first church was erected on this site. The current church was built between 1326 and 1475 in Gothic style, enlarging the pre-existing church. In 1655, a fire damaged the church, leaving it in ruins for over two centuries. Between 1763 and 1765, the current bell tower was built, based on a project by Paolo Posi. In 1855, following the suppression of religious orders carried out by Napoleon, the convent became the property of the Archdiocese of Siena, which made it the seat of the Archiepiscopal Seminary. The church was restored in Neo-Gothic style at the end of the 19th century. The works were entrusted to Giuseppe Partini for the interior, and to Vittorio Mariani and Gaetano Ceccarelli for the exterior. In 1968, the ancient Convent adjacent to the Basilica was purchased by the University of Siena, where the Department of Economics, Politics and Statistics is Read more [...]
Fontebranda is a medieval fountain in Siena, located near Porta di Fontebranda, one of the remaining gates of the ancient city walls. SHORT HISTORY The first mention of Fontebranda dates back to the year 1081. The fountain was enlarged in 1193, and rebuilt in bricks and travertine in 1246 by Giovanni di Stefano, for the Wool Guild, who needed a permanent source of water. Saint Catherine of Siena was born and lived near the fountain, and that is why she is also known as the Saint of Fontebranda. ARCHITECTURE The fountain is characterized by three large ogival Gothic arches surmounted by merlons and a row of blind arches with triangular motifs. The front is adorned with four lion-shaped gushes, with the emblem of Siena in the center. Beyond the water tank, there are more than 25 kilometers of conduits, partly excavated and partly inside the walls, whose medium height is about 1.75 meters, with a width of about 0.90 meters. Today, you can walk through this tunnels, where rainwater, collected in a small channel carved in the walkway, flows with an inclination of one meter per kilometer, from the springs located in the Sienese countryside. These pipelines, in Read more [...]
The Basilica of San Domenico, also known as Basilica Cateriniana, is a Gothic church in Siena, located in Piazza San Domenico. The church contains the head-relic of Saint Catherine of Siena, placed in a splendid Renaissance chapel. SHORT HISTORY The Dominicans arrived in Siena in 1220, a year before the death of their founder, Dominic de Guzmán. In 1225, they received a piece of land on the Camporegio Hill, and built a church there between 1226 and 1265. In the 14th century, the complex was enlarged in Gothic style, and took its current appearance. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the church underwent numerous alterations in Baroque style, such as the reconstruction of the side altars. After the earthquake of 1798, the bell tower, already in ruins, was truncated to its present level, and equipped with the current crenellated crowning. The last intervention dates back to 1941, when the Baroque decorations were removed, the ancient Gothic forms were partially restored, and the stained glass windows with the Stories of Saint Catherine by Bruno Cassinari were added. ARCHITECTURE The basilica has a simple but massive appearance, typical of the mendicant orders. Suggestive is the view of the rear side Read more [...]
Fonte Gaia is a monumental fountain in Siena, located in the historical center of the city, in Piazza del Campo. SHORT HISTORY The fountain was inaugurated in 1346, and was met with much joy, hence the name Gaia (joyous). The fountain was supplied with water by a hydraulic system consisting of a tunnel about 30 kilometers long and a large cistern, strengthened during the 15th century by Francesco di Giorgio. The fountain was decorated with a series of sculptural reliefs commissioned in 1409 to Jacopo della Quercia, and completed ten years later, in 1419. The weak local marble used for the construction of the fountain contributed, over time, to the material degradation of the monument. In 1859, it was decided to replace Jacopo’s fountain with a copy made of the more durable Carrara marble, commissioned to the Sienese sculptor Tito Sarrocchi. The new fountain was completed only ten years later. On that same occasion, Fonte Gaia was moved to a more central position in the square, and was protected by a gate, work by the architect Giuseppe Partini. The original reliefs, very damaged, were restored and are now in the Museum of Santa Maria della Scala, after being exhibited Read more [...]
Palazzo Chigi Zondadari is an 18th-century palace in Siena, located on the northeast side of Piazza del Campo, adjacent to Palazzo Sansedoni. SHORT HISTORY The palace, which dates back to the 14th century, was rebuilt starting with 1724 on a project by Antonio Valeri, comissioned by Cardinal Antonio Felice Zondadari. Although the cardinal lived in Rome, he would often return to Siena to rest in his palace. Zondadari is typically a Sienese surname, and it comes from the ancient Zendadari, sellers of zendadi (silk fabrics). ART The interior rooms were frescoed by various artists, including Marco Benefial, Placido Costanzi and Giuseppe Colignon, while some paintings are the work of Giambattista Marchetti, Roman painter comissioned by Giuseppe Flavio Chigi Zondadari. Inside, there is also a bust of Alessandro VII Chigi, the work of the famous sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. HOW TO GET THERE Palazzo Chigi Zondadari is located about 1.9 kilometers away from the Siena railway station. The closest bus stop is Logge Del Papa Bibo, located about 60 meters away, on the bus Line 590.
Dama Ignuda (Naked Lady) is a beautiful sculpture located in Via dei Rossi, in Siena. SHORT HISTORY The sculpture was comissioned by the Contrada del Bruco to the sculptor Pier Luigi Olla, and placed on the wall of the building in Via dei Rossi in 1995. Pier Luigi Olla was born in Pistoia in 1939, but he lives in Siena since 1946, where he alternates his work as a teacher with sculpture. He is a contemporary artist, who carries forward the ancient tradition of Sienese sculpture. Pier Luigi Olla worked for the Palio di Siena, making costumes, flags, heraldic symbols, as well as the banner for the Palio of 1976. Contrada del Bruco (Contrada of the Caterpillar) is one of the 17 contrade (districts) of the city, which competes every year in the Palio di Siena. DESCRIPTION The sculpture depicts a naked young woman partially hidden behind curtains. The work of Pier Luigi Olla looks like another window on the wall, and you can easily pass it without noticing it. HOW TO GET THERE Dama Ignuda is located about 1.6 kilometers away from the Siena railway station. The closest bus stop, Porta Ovile, is located about 260 Read more [...]
Palazzo delle Poste is a palace located in the historical center of Siena, in Piazza Giacomo Matteotti. The palace houses the local headquarters of the Italian Post (Italy’s national postal service provider). SHORT HISTORY At the beginning of the 20th century, the ancient Church of Sant’Egidio and the former Capuchin convent located in Piazza Umberto I, today Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, were demolished, and the entire area was restructured. On September 18, 1910, the first stone of the new Palazzo delle Poste was laid. The works, entrusted to the architect Vittorio Mariani and carried out by the Sienese construction company of Pietro Ciabattini, lasted exactly two years. The new Palazzo delle Poste e Telecomunicazioni was inaugurated on September 20, 1912. HOW TO GET THERE Palazzo delle Poste is located about 1.5 kilometers away from the Siena railway station. The closest bus stop is located in Viale Federico Tozzi, about 140 meters away, on the bus Lines 0S1, 0S3, 0S6, 501, 506, 616, 640 and S18.
Palazzo Salimbeni, also known as Rocca Salimbeni, is a palace located in the historical center of Siena, in Piazza Salimbeni. The palace houses the headquarters of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena Bank. SHORT HISTORY Palazzo Salimbeni was built in the 14th century, by expanding a pre-existing castle from the 12th century belonging to the Salimbeni family. The rear of the palace shows signs of its previous medieval construction. In 1419, the palace was confiscated by the Sienese Republic and partly used as the headquarters of the Salt Customs House. The institution Monte di Pietà (Mount of Piety) was also located here since 1472. In 1866, the building was bought by Monte dei Paschi di Siena. The palace was restored and remodeled in Neo-Gothic style starting with 1877, by the architect Giuseppe Partini. Another restoration was carried out at the beginning of the 20th century by Carlo Ariotti and Vittorio Mariani. At the same time, the other buildings located in the square were also remodeled. ARCHITECTURE Palazzo Salimbeni has a facade in Sienese Gothic style. The restorations of the 19th and 20th centuries in Neo-Gothic style tried to reproduce the architecture of Siena from the 14th century, with Read more [...]