Siena

Siena
.

The Historic Centre of Siena has been well preserved since the 12th and 13rd century. Its urban fabric, size and artistic identity distinguish Siena from other medieval urban centres in Italy.

The city derived its wealth from banking activities - streets named Banchi di Sopra and Banchi di Sotto are a reminder of this. Siena also was the main rival of Florence, with which it disputed over territorial expansion.

The city had gained independence in 1189. The period that followed was to be crucial in shaping the Siena we know today. It was during the early 1200s that the majority of the construction of the Siena Cathedral (Duomo) was completed. It was also during this period that the Piazza del Campo, now regarded as one of the most beautiful civic spaces in Europe, grew in importance as the centre of secular life. New streets were constructed leading to it and it served as the site of the market, and the location of various sporting events.

Map of Siena

Load map
Els

Visit February 2009

With over 50,000 inhabitants, Siena is quite a bit larger than the other medieval towns in Tuscany. Although it also has been preserved well, I found it a lot harder to like (even tacky in some parts). I had to walk for about 20 minutes from one of the parking lots that surround the city center and are aimed at handling loads of tourists (and their buses) in the summer time. Parking at the Stadium is much closer, though not free.

February 2009

My first glimpse of something grand was at the Baptistry, an enormous white-and-black marble building. It is adjacent to the splendid Duomo. This cathedral has an overly decorated gothic facade, and a striped bell tower almost like a minaret. Its dome is under construction at the moment and covered up. The colours black and white are used all over the design of the Duomo, as they are the colours of Siena's coat of arms.

February 2009

The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo undoubtedly is the highlight of Siena. The square houses several monumental buildings, like the Palazzo Pubblico. It is also the place where the Palio horse race is run twice a year. I've watched that spectacle on TV once, and it is hard to imagine the crowds and the nervous horses at this so gentle public square. A sight not to be missed there is the 15th century Fonte Gaia, a fountain that is adorned on three sides with bas-reliefs.

February 2009

Community Reviews

Write a review


Nan

Germany - 05-Apr-18 -

Siena by Nan

As a stopover on my way from San Gimignano to the Val d'Orcia I had an hour or so to kill in Siena. I had been before twice, but still looked forward again at the chance to have another peek at Siena.

The previous time I had visited my original plan had been to also tick off San Gimignano the same day. But when faced with the choice on skipping on the Duomo in order to catch my train to San Gimignano or staying in Siena for the rest of the day I fortunately went all in and stayed. It was well worth it and I would encourage you to do the same.

Siena to me is the quintessential Tuscan city world heritage site. Pisa may have the most iconic construction in the Leaning Tower and the Piazza del Duomo, Florence the greater collection of individual sites in the Duomo, the Uffici and the Ponte Vecchia, San Gimignano and Pienza the more picturesque location. But none offer anywhere near the same level of consistency or size that Siena offers all the while not being short on stellar sites itself: the Duomo of Siena, the Campanile, ... there is plenty here to take in. Interestingly, Siena feels a lot less touristy than any of the other Tuscan cities. I would guess it's a combination of the relatively large size and the lesser publicity it gets.

Getting There

Siena is connected by train to Florence and Pisa. On weekdays there are also direct busses to San Gimignano. Alternatively, you can take the train to Poggibonsi and catch a bus there. Via Grosseto you should also be able to get to Tarquinia.

If you plan to head to Val d'Orcia and Pienza there are some busses but these don't run all that frequently, especially on weekends and holidays. In my case I took the train to Buonconvento where I stayed for the night before taking the first bus to San Quirico the next morning.

The Siena train station is quite far outside of the city center, up the hill, then down the escalades. Plan sufficient time to get there (20min).


Jay T

USA - 30-Oct-16 -

Siena by Jay T

Siena served as a scheduled rest stop during my tour of mainland Europe in the fall of 2003, and I thoroughly enjoyed my few days of relaxation and exploration in the town. Siena is probably most well-known for its annual Palio races, held twice a year at the Piazza del Campo in the center of town. On my first night in Siena I realized why the neighborhood where I was staying was festooned with green and orange flags and banners; the contrade (or district), called Selva, had won the Palio in July, and they were celebrating with a feast in the square below. Siena is composed of 17 contrade, and over the next couple of days I spent time wandering the narrow, winding streets of each neighborhood, looking for flags or seals marking their contrade. In the center of town was the amazing Piazza del Campo with its town hall and Torre del Mangia. The views of the fan-shaped piazza and the surrounding town and countryside from the tower were spectacular. Other explorations in town led me to city walls, cisterns, and churches; I particularly appreciated the rich interior and exterior of the Siena Cathedral, with its distinctive black and white striped bell tower. Siena is a beautiful town that I would love to return to some day.

Logistics: Siena can be reached by train, bus, or automobile from other major cities in Italy. The town itself is worth exploring extensively on foot.


Jeanette Shumaker

US - 12-Jul-15 -

Siena's black and white striped cathedral imparts a joyous, partyish feeling inside and out. Inside the cathedral, the Bernini statues of the Magdalen and St. Jerome who are lost in mystic ecstasy are incredibly beautiful. The interior of the cathedral is much more spectacular than Florence's.

We loved the pan fuerte, Siena's special fruitcake, too.


Clyde

Malta - 07-Sep-12 -

Siena by Clyde

I visited this WHS in May 2003. The heart of the medieval city of Siena is Piazza del Campo where the local Palio takes place.


Ann Reeves

USA - 12-Nov-08 -

It has been awhile since I visited charming Siena but there

wasn't much posted on it so decided to give some input using

my scrapbook to jog my memory. The town, is marvelous and

the Duomo is fantastic with it's stunning mosaic floors. It's always so incredible to view Europe's amazing archi-

tecture. The highlight of our visit to Siena was having

lunch at Antica Osteria "Da Divo". It is on Via Fanciosa

close to the Piazza del Campo. The atmosphere with Etruscan

vaults and nooks and crannies is terrific, and the food was

the best we experienced on the entire trip to Italy, and that is saying something!! We ate our way through every city. The marketplace was fun and we enjoyed exploring

the typical narrow cobblestone streets twisting here and

there filled with delightful little shops and businesses.

I can see why it is described as the heart of Tuscany.


Klaus Freisinger

Austria -

I seem to be one of the few people who like Siena less than Florence, but since I like Florence a lot, that doesn't mean that Siena is not a very nice city and a great place to visit. The unique cathedral and the stunning Piazza del Campo make Siena special and I would gladly return there to see more of it.


Graeme Ramshaw

Siena, the perennial rival of Florence, may not equal its neighbour to the north in sheer artistic achievement, but its charm and exuberance is all its own. The center of town is dominated by the Piazza del Campo around which every summer the Palio, a no-holds-barred horse race, is run to the delight of locals and tourists alike. Siena is also home to an unusual cathedral, which still sports the initial foundations of a massive planned expansion of the building that was cut short by the arrival of the plague. And of course, all of this is best seen while munching on one of the local ricciarelli, almond-based cookies.


Site Info

Full Name
Historic Centre of Siena
Unesco ID
717
Country
Italy
Inscribed
1995
Type
Cultural
Criteria
1 2 4
Categories
Urban landscape - Medieval European
Link
By ID

Site History

1995 Inscribed

Locations

The site has 1 locations

Siena

Connections

The site has

Architecture
Constructions
History
Human Activity
Individual People
Religion and Belief
Timeline
Trivia
WHS Hotspots

Visitors

Community Members have visited.

A. Mehmet Haksever AP-TW AYB Aalberty Adolfo Afshin Iranpour Aitia Alberto Peterle Alessandro Votta Alex Pflugfelder Alexander Alexander Barabanov Alexander F. Somers Alexander Lehmann Alfons and Riki Verstraeten Alias65 Alice DuCharme Aljaz Alliosoncita La unica Peruchita Altacyr Amy chin Ana Lozano Anders Burholm Andrea & Uwe Zimmermann Andrea Gormley Andreas Thum AndreasThum Anna Wludarska Argo Arianna Arjan Artur Anuszewski Artworks Ashioleno Aslak Eide B Assif Astrid Wagner Atila Ege Atuzhikova Bamse Ben Buckley Ben Mandel Bergecn Bertrand Bgbaum Bin Bob Finnie Bob Parda Bob pateman Bojana Bartol Brigitte Huber Butterflybird Camille Carlo Medina Caspar Dechmann Celine Gramlich Cezar Grozavu ChenMing Chenboada Chenqtao Cheryl Chessjsr Christer Sundberg Christian Ochse Christian Wagner Cindy Casey Claire Bradshaw Clyde Cobaltrage Comensal Coppi Craig Harder Cristina Erba DL DMORMAR DMORMAR DOn Szumowski Dachangjin3 Dan Pettigrew DanVoyageur Dani Cyr Daniel Chazad Daniel Gabi Daniela Hohmann David Aaronson & Melanie Stowell David Berlanda David Gee David Pastor de la Orden Davied Dean Swift Deborah Caster Devenyi Dgjohansson Dibro Diggy Dimitar Krastev Dimitrios Polychronopoulos Donna S Doug Robertson Duesi73 ERIC ZHOU Eanna81 Echwel Edward Elaine Baran Elaine Ganderton Elena Elia Vettorato Ellenmck Els Slots Enrico Cerrini Enrique Clemente Erdem Engin Tavlayan Eric Lorentz Erik Jelinek Esther Westerveld Eva Kisgyorgy Evajuk FK FS Fabi-ddorf Fan Yibo Farinelli Fedekiwi Feldhase Felicite Fairer-Wessels Felix Femke Roos Filippo Ubaldi Fool79 Frederik Dawson Fredrik Tjøgersen Fuaron Fvdd G. ingraham G.L. Ingraham Gary Arndt Geert Luiken Geo George Evangelou George Gdanski Gernot Gewo Gi Gijs Gile363 Gilles Gretell Scott Gucsie Gustavo Leit Hadrianus Haining Guan Hamid Hannes Muehlbacher Happyrini Harald T. Hdimoshi Homadism Howard Howard Brayer Hsjamsil Hubert I&W Rohde IC Iain Jackson Ian Coldwell Ilya Burlak Inigo Cia Isabel Aguirre Ivan Ivan Rucek Jack Jacob Otten Jakob Frenzel James Hammond Jan-Willem Jani Hyppanen Janie Switzer Janina Lehmann Janmoch Jarek Pokrzywnicki Javier Coro Jay T Jean-Philippe Platroz Jeanne OGrady Jenni Jennifer Prout Jens Jessica Rademacher Jgera Jiangnan Cai Jianhui Song Joachim Nölte-Baumann Joao Durao Jochem Taanman Joe Wang Joel Baldwin John booth Johnson Zhao Jon Eshuijs Jonas Hagung Jonas Kremer Jordi Martinez Jorge fitzmaurice Jorgioz Jose Antonio Collar Josef Mikus Joseph João Aender Judit Dalla Judith Tanner Juergen Geiger Julianna Lees Jun Jun Zhou Jungliemonkey Jurgen Stevens Juwels KAO Kai Thorben Karina Kasienka5 Katelewisingermany Katelewisingermany Kati Drimmer Kayakka Kbecq Klaus Freisinger Klmargit Koen Vliegenthart Krijn Krisztina zill Kutasp Lale Eralp Turkey Lara Adler Lars Gunnar Gardo Laszlo Buga Leckie118 Leontine Helleman Lidb93 Linda Sereno Lindsay Hasluck Lois Dekker Lorenzo Mejino Luca Molinari Lucia Luciano Imperadori Ludvan Luigi Tura Lut & Theo M. Huineman de la Cuadra MAURO PODDA MBennett MMM MaYumin Magnien Majkl20 Malgorzata Kopczynska Marc Marcel Benard Marcel staron Mariaana Nelimarkka Mariam Marie Morlon Marius Markus Marta Lempert Marthalfreeman Martin Funkhauser Martina Librio Martina Ruckova Massimiliano croce Matejicek Mateusz Matthew Harris Matthewsharris Maureen Benefield Mauro Martino Mdnichol Melissa Harder Merveil Michael Turtle Michal Marciniak Michele Armstrong Michelle Michelle.has.murphy Michiel Dekker Miguel Gallego Miguel Marchi Mikael Bjork Mikko Milan Jirasek Miriam laschever Mistysmoke Monica Tasciotti Monika and Rini Monxton Morodhi Nadia Balduccio Nan Naveed Panjwani Nevin Salman Nicole P Nihal Ege Nikolamus Ninalr Omnisppot Oscar Martinez PabloNorte Pang Liang Fong Pascal Cauliez Pat OBrien Patphilly Patricia Schiller Patrick C. Venenoso Patrick Matgen Patriks Patty Verhoeven Paul Chatterton Paul Schofield Paulfrancois Peter Day Peter Loov PeterH Peterhorst6974 Petteri Philipp Peterer Pieter Dijkshoorn Pietprive06@kpnmail.nl Piotr Sebastian Sikon Qqalexqq Randi Thomsen Rascleberry Ray matlock Reza Riccardo Quaranta Richard van deusen RobRos Robin F. Rochelle Angus Roel Sterken Roger Ourset Rogerlee Rom Roman Koeln Ronald Lange Ronaldo Michels Rosen Roych Rswood Ruben Mend Rvanbuskirk Sabrina Liebehentschel Sally Galman Schnitzel Scubarrie Sebastian Sergio Arjona Shandos Cleaver Sharon Wheelock Shaun Ankers Shirley Xue SirLoydd Socon Solivagant Squiffy Stanimir Stanislaw Warwas SteO153 Stefan A. Michelfeit Stefan and Mia Stephen Brooker Stephen S. Kamin Su Yen Chen Sue hayton Super-Sophie Susan Stair Sutul Suzy OBrien Svein Heltberg Svermeulen Szabo Viktoria Szucs Tamas Tamara Ratz Tammy Gouldstone Theresa Goh Thibault Magnien Thijs van den Berg Thomas Buechler Thomas cahalan Thomasvdw Thorben Timothy C Easton Tjagmax Tkinou Tom Flaten Tonioto Tonisan Tony Crouch Tony0001 Tram2net Travel Addicts Trevni Truls Brekke Tsunami Uros Bonsek Urs Uwagner ValiaVeweth Van Hung Vanessa Buechler Veelineen Vernon Prieto Victor Corr Victoria | Bridges and Balloons Vidiot Vlad Lesnikov Voyager WILLIAM RICH Walter Walter H. Watkinstravel Werner Huber Widy Heuver Willem van Altena William Quan Wojciech Fedoruk Wolfgang Hlousa WolfgangHl Xander Taylor Xiong Wei Yuri Samozvanov ZiggyAngelo8 Zizmondka Zlatko Rihter Zoë Sheng Zsuzsanna Forray