Located in Tuscany, Italy, Siena may seem like just a simple city at first. However, one glance at Siena’s iconic buildings would reveal that this city has a deep history and culture. Medieval churches, towers, and museums on the historical square are some of Siena’s iconic buildings that fill the city with history and wonder. Siena’s population is not more than 55,000. However, each year, 1 million tourists visit the city. This number is considered small compared to other places in Italy.
Duomo di Siena
Duomo di Siena is not only one of the oldest cathedrals in Siena but one of the oldest in Italy. Its construction started in 1215 and continued until 1263. It consists of a transept in the shape of a crucifix, a dome, and a bell tower. Moreover, it has been the main seat of bishops and archbishops since the 15th century. It is a place of both historical and religious importance for Siena.
The tiles of the cathedral are mainly black and white which are symbolic of the city’s history. It is believed that the founders of Siena, Senius and Aschius, had black and white horses. Therefore, the black and white tiles represent their cooperation and strong brotherhood. What is the most interesting part of the cathedral is that each façade has a distinct identity courtesy of many architects who worked on the cathedral over centuries.
Piazza del Campo
Considered as one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares, Piazza del Campo has been Siena’s public square for centuries. The square is first and foremost famous for its circular shape. Each building around the square is built accordingly with a curve. The surface of the square has 9 slices all pointing towards the middle. This was a symbol of the nine oligarchs that ruled Italy during that time.
The major tourist attraction of the square is the Fonte Gaia or the Joyous Fountain. It originally dates back to the early 15th century and was the wish of the nine rulers. They ordered the construction of tunnels stretching for miles to bring water to aqueducts and fountains. Moreover, the fountain had sculptures of mythological figures from the 15th century but the Italian government replaced them with copies in order to protect them.
Arguably the most important building in Piazza del Campo is Palazzo Pubblico, the former main seat of the Republic of Siena. It was the town hall where the committee conducted executive and judicial tasks. The palazzo is a prominent example of medieval Italian architecture. Its bronze façade, plates on top of it, and frescoes in each room make the palazzo one of Siena’s iconic buildings.
Palazzo Pubblico is also home to the Civic Museum of Siena. The museum is on the first floor and contains the rooms with the frescoes. Moreover, it serves as a gateway to the different eras of Siena’s art and artists. There are many great artworks in the museum that are from different centuries. The visitors have the chance to experience the finest works of the finest artists of Sienna between the 13th century and 16th century.
Torre del Mangia
A 14th-century tower in the heart of Siena, Torre del Mangia is the second tallest tower in Italy with a height of 102 meters. Furthermore, it is one of the tallest secular towers in the medieval ages. In those times, aside from palaces and churches tall structures were not really popular. In order to show that the church and the state had the same power, Torre del Mangia had the same exact height as the Siena Cathedral.
The tower has 5 distinct levels which are visible from the bottom to the top. Its bottom loggia has sculptures that functioned as a form of thanks for the end of the Black Death. Its bronze-red exterior is in accordance with the traditional color palette of the square the tower is located in. Moreover, the tower inspired many other towers all across Europe due to its magnificent artistry and height.