Siena Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Siena

The historic city of Siena in Italy's Tuscany, founded by ancient Etruscans, is laden with monuments. Among them are numerous medieval sculptures, some dating back as far as the 13th century, an unfinished Gothic cathedral by Niccolo Pisano and Donatello, and others. To find out more about the riches of Siena, follow this orientation walk and explore the city's top attractions.
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Siena Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Siena Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Siena (See other walking tours in Siena)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 18
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
Author: violet
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Piazza del Campo
  • Fonte Gaia
  • Museo Civico
  • Palazzo Pubblico
  • Torre del Mangia
  • Palazzo Piccolomini
  • Basilica of San Francesco
  • Palazzo Salimbeni
  • Fortezza Medicea
  • Basilica of San Domenico
  • Fonte Branda
  • The sanctuary of Santa Caterina
  • Battistero di San Giovanni
  • Duomo di Siena
  • Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
  • Via di Città
  • Pinacoteca Nazionale
  • Orto Botanico dell'Università
Piazza del Campo

1) Piazza del Campo (must see)

Piazza del Campo is the principal public space of Siena, and is one of Europe's greatest medieval squares. Its red-brick fan shaped paths radiate out from the facade of the Palazzo Pubblico. At the Piazza's completion, it has remained the site of the city's public events, including bullfights, executions, festivals and also the location of the Palio horse races in July and August. The open site of the public space was a marketplace established before the thirteenth century. There are ten lines of travertine on the piazza, which divide it into nine sections, radiating from the mouth of the gavinone (the central water drain) in front of the Palazzo Pubblico. The number of divisions are held to be symbolic of the rule of The Nine.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Fonte Gaia

2) Fonte Gaia (must see)

The Fonte Gaia is a monumental fountain located opposite the Palazzo Publico on the high side of Piazza del Campo in Siena. Surrounded by fences, the fountain is a protected monument in the city. The Fonte Gaia was designed by local sculptor, Jacopo della Quercia, in 1419, in keeping with the style traditional for Sienese fountains. It consisted of a rectangular basin surrounded by a high parapet on three sides. The parapet was covered with bas reliefs. The bas reliefs depicted the creation of Adam and the flight from the Garden of Eden. The long section has a statue of the Madonna and the Child surrounded by allegories of the virtues.

The fountain was placed on the site of a previous one, created in 1346. It got its name from the celebrations that took place when water flowed from the fountain for the first time. Legend holds that the fountain was met with much joy, and thus the name Gaia or joyous. Others suggest the term Gaia refers to the Latin term for "bride", and that the fountain was dedicated to the bride of God and patron of Siena, the Virgin Mary. The original panels, created by Jacopo della Quercia, fell into disrepair in the 19th century. Tito Sarrochi reproduced the originals, while the old panels were removed and displayed in the loggia of the Palazzo Publico. The Fonte Gaia was recently renovated again, in 1990, by the city council.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Civico

3) Museo Civico (must see)

Religious and secular art are displayed in the Museo Civico located inside the Palazzo Publico or Town Hall of the city. It houses works of Sienese and other Italian artists, as well as some European masters.

The Museo Civico was established in 1930. Works by Italian and international artists are exhibited in the first few rooms. Frescoes by Sienese masters adorn the walls of the inner rooms. The open air loggia of the building has faded painted panels by Jacopo della Quercia that once formed part of the Gaia fountain of Siena.

Notable frescoes in the Museo Civico include the Allegory of Good and Bad Government and Their Effects on the Town and Countryside by the Sienese master, Ambrogio Lorenzetti that adorns Salla della Pace, the room where the city council met. It is regarded as the finest piece of secular art from the medieval era. Sala del Risorgimento has a fresco dedicated to the first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II who ruled after the unification of the country. Sala del Mappamondo has two of the most celebrated works of the Sienese artist, Simone Martini. On the left, is his first painting, the Maesta, and the fresco of Guidoriccio da Fogliano about the conquest of Montemassi by Sienese troops is on the right. A bronze she-wolf, the symbol of Siena, is located in the vestibule.

Operation hours: November 1 - March 15: 10 am - 6 pm; March 16 - October 31: 10 am - 7 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Pubblico

4) Palazzo Pubblico (must see)

The Palazzo Publico is an impressive medieval building looking over the Central Piazza del Campo in Siena. It houses the municipal government offices and museum, located on the first floor. The construction of the Palazzo began in 1297 and continued till the completion of the bell tower, the Torre del Mangia in 1344. The style is the typical Sienese Gothic medieval architecture. The purpose of the Palazzo Publico was to serve as the office of the republican government consisting of the Podesta, which is a high official - equivalent to modern mayor, and a nine member council.

The architecture of the building is in the Gothic influenced medieval style. The façade of the first floor is made of stone and the upper stories are made of brick. It is curved slightly inwards to be in harmony with the outward curve of the Piazza del Campo. To the left of the building is the Torre de Mangia that was once Italy’s tallest structure. The walls of nearly all the rooms are covered with frescoes. Many of them have secular themes which was unusual at a time when most works of art in Italy had a religious subject.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Torre del Mangia

5) Torre del Mangia (must see)

The Torre del Mangia is adjacent to the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. When the tower was completed, it was the tallest structure in Italy. The tower was built to be exactly the same height as the Siena Cathedral as a sign that the church and the state had equal amounts of power. Literally meaning ‘Tower of the Eater’, the name refers to its first bellringer, Giovanni di Balduccio, nicknamed Mangiaguadagni (‘eat-the-profits’, or, ‘profit eater’) for his spendthrift tendency or his idleness or gluttony.

The Torre del Mangia was built between 1338 and 1348. The upper part was designed by the Sienese Byzantine style artist Lippo Memmi. In 1352, a loggia, dedicated to the Holy Virgin, made of marble with a wooden ceiling, called the Cappella di Piazza, was added by the Sienese survivors of the Black Death. In 1360, a clock was placed in the tower. The present pilaster was a restoration, made in 1378, and the sculptures on the pilaster were carved between 1378 and 1382. The wooden ceiling of the loggia was replaced with marble between 1461 and 1468. The medieval structure served as a watchtower to warn the citizens of enemy attacks. The design has inspired later many towers located in the UK and the USA. The Torre del Mangia is 88 meters high. It is a brick structure with a stone bell hall at the top. A bell, weighing 6,764 kg, was placed here in 1666. A winding staircase, consisting of 400 steps, takes visitors to the top of the tower where they can take in breathtaking views across Siena.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Piccolomini

6) Palazzo Piccolomini

Palazzo Piccolomini is a palace built in 1469 that was designed by Bernardo Rossellino. At present it is the home of the State archives. The construction of the massive palace was composed of three floors and was one of the town houses of members of this dynasty who grew to considerable power. This structure is similar to either Alberti's Palazzo Rucellai in Florence or Palazzo Piccolomini from Pienza also designed by Rossellino.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Basilica of San Francesco

7) Basilica of San Francesco (must see)

The Basilica of San Francesco is a 13th century church that was once attached to a Franciscan convent and renaissance cloister. The convent and the cloister today house the law faculty of the University of Siena and its library. The Basilica of San Francesco was built by Francesco di Giorgio Martini between 1228 and 1255. At first the building had a Romanesque facade. It was gutted by a fire in 1655 and the original interior artwork was destroyed. The structure was expanded in the 14th and 15th centuries and its present large facade has a Gothic design. The basilica is on the Egyptian Cross plan, with a nave covered by spans and a transept, according to type favoured by the Mendicant Orders, which needed spaces capable to house large crowds of faithful. It has a single nave and chapels in the transept. The frescoes on the walls are by artists from the Quattrocento Sienese School.

The counter-facade houses the remains of two 14th century sepulchers, as well as two large fragmentary frescoes from the former city gates of Porta Romana and Porta Pispini: an Incoronation of the Virgin by Sassetta and Sano di Pietro (1447–1450) and a Nativity by Il Sodoma (1531). Also visible is the ancient 15th century portal by Francesco di Giorgio Martini. Two notable works are St. Ludwig D’Angio at the Feet of Boniface VIII by Pietro Lorenzetti and The Martyrdom of the Franciscan Brothers in Ceuta by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. In the right transept is a 14th-century marble of St. Francis, from the ancient façade. The tomb of Cristoforo Felici, a magistrate of the Council of the Republic of Siena is located in the second chapel on the right of the choir.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Salimbeni

8) Palazzo Salimbeni (must see)

The Palazzo Salimbeni is a 14th century fortress that flanks a piazza of the same name. The original structure was remodeled into neo Gothic style in 1879.

The Palazzo Salimbeni was built on the site of an earlier structure that dated back to 12th century. It was the residence of the Salimbeni family until they were driven out of the city in 1419. The city council then took over the building and sold it in 1866 to the Monte dei Paschi di Siena a major Italian bank. It now serves as the bank’s headquarters.

The Palazzo Salimbeni was at first an imposing medieval fort like structure with a Sienese Gothic architectural style. Giuseppe Partini remodeled it after the takeover by the Monte dei Paschi di Siena Bank and the size of the structure was enlarged. The battlements on the roof of the building and the arches below formed part of the original medieval structure. In 1959, the building was renovated again to modernize the offices of the bank. After the takeover, Monte dei Paschi di Siena have added many works of art to the interior of the building including masterpieces by artists, Beccafumi, Pietro Lorenzetti and Sassetta. The bank holds many valuable documents about the economic history of Siena in its archives.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Fortezza Medicea

9) Fortezza Medicea (must see)

The Fortezza Medicea, or Medici Fortress, is located near the San Prospero District of Siena, next to the Stadio Artemio Franchi. It is also known as the Fort of Santa Barbara. The Medici Fortress was commissioned by Cosimo di Medici after the conquest of the city by the Florentines. It was built on the site of an earlier fort built by the king of Spain, Charles V, after the Spanish army conquered Siena in 1548. In 1552, the Sienese revolted against the Spanish and razed the fort to the ground. Cosimo I built the fortress on the site, to prevent a further revolt by the Sienese, in 1560.

At first, the Medici Fortress had an L shape. After the Medici family completely established their power over Siena, their military engineer, Baldassarre Lanci, rebuilt the fort and gave it a square shape. On each of the four corners is an imposing brick built rampart, and on three of these the Medici coat of arms stands above the head of a lion. On the fourth, south facing corner, however, there is only the head of a lion. The fortress was demilitarized only at the end of the eighteenth century, at which point it became part of the city’s public life. In 1937, following a major restoration, the fortress was transformed into its present condition as a public park. It houses an Enoteca (a commercial center focused on the local wine industry) and frequently hosts art exhibitions. It is also used for festivals and concerts and is home to the Siena Jazz foundation. The fortress is a substantial structure, with internal dimensions of approximately 180 by 125 meters and external dimensions of about 270 by 200 meters. If the outer wall is included, the structure has an external perimeter of approximately 1,500 meters.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Basilica of San Domenico

10) Basilica of San Domenico (must see)

The Basilica of San Domenico is a church established by the Dominican Order. The church was begun in 1226-1265, but was enlarged in the 14th century to the Gothic appearance it has now. The site was donated by the Malavolti family. It is a large edifice built, like many contemporary edifices of the mendicant orders, in bricks, with a lofty bell tower on the left, that was reduced in height after an earthquake in 1798 that had badly damaged the whole building. The present structure is the result of extensive renovations made between 1940 and 1962. The interior is on the Egyptian cross plan with a huge nave covered by trusses and with a transept featuring high chapels. The church contains several relics of St. Catherine of Siena, who was born in a nearby building that is now a Santuario or convent. After the canonization of St. Catherine, her head and thumb were brought from Rome to Siena by her confessor, Raymond of Capua, and remain preserved in the church.

The Basilica of San Domenico has a plain and austere Dominican style exterior and an interior covered with religious artwork by famous artists. The chapel on the western part has a portrait of St. Catherine by Andrea Vanni. The Chapel of St. Catherine is covered with paintings depicting her life by the artist, Giovanni Antonio Bazzi II, who was better known by the name Sodoma. There is also a painting of St. Catherine performing exorcism, by Andrea Vanni, in the chapel. The head of the saint is on a marble altar worked by sculptor Giovanni di Stefano. Some of the finest works of the Sienese artist, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, are also found in the church.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Fonte Branda

11) Fonte Branda

The Fonte Branda is the oldest city fountain in Siena. It was principal source of water in the city during the middle ages. The Fonte Branda was designed by Giovanni di Stefano and built in 1246. It is mentioned as an ancient fountain even in Dante’s Inferno and the writings of Boccaccio. During the middle ages, it was surrounded by houses of craftsmen and their workshops. Later it became the site of a slaughterhouse. The area has been restored today to house workshops of craftsmen who strive to preserve the ancient arts and crafts of Siena. Visitors can view the Fonte Branda on their way to the house of St. Catherine of Siena and the Basilica of San Dominico.

The Fonte Branda resembles a small fortress with three pointed arches and crenellations which formed a Guelph battlement during the battle of Montaperti. During the middle ages, it was a rich water source that quenched the thirst of passing travelers, gave power to nearby mills and supplied water to tanners and dyers of woolen fabric in the city. Like all fountains in Siena, the first basin of the Fonte Branda contained water for drinking, the second was used for watering animals and the third was a toilet.
The sanctuary of Santa Caterina

12) The sanctuary of Santa Caterina

The sanctuary of Santa Caterina is located in Sienna on the Coast of San Antonio. A portal leads to the church of the Crucified, with plant to a Latin cross, which derives its name from the "Crucifix" miraculous, from which Catherine received the stigmata, now placed within a frame on the high altar with doors decorated. The sanctuary dates from 1464 and is dedicated more to meditation and contemplation than its artistic qualities.
Battistero di San Giovanni

13) Battistero di San Giovanni

The Battistero di San Giovanni, or St. John’s Baptistry, is a religious building located in the square with the same name, near the final spans of the choir of the city's cathedral. It was built between 1316 and 1325 by Camaino di Crescentino, a well known Sienese architect, whose son, Tino di Camaino, designed many notable buildings across Italy. The façade, in Gothic style, is unfinished in the upper part, such as the apse of the cathedral. Adorned with many valuable paintings and sculptures, the interior has a nave and two aisles.

Made of bronze, marble and vitreous enamel, the baptismal font is one of the earliest masterpieces of Florentine Renaissance art. It was the work of Jacopo della Quercia. He also designed the shrine made of marble on the font and created the statues of the five prophets in the niches and the statue of St. John the Baptist on the top. Other pieces of art in the baptistery are by Giovanni di Turino, Ghiberti and Donatello. The frescoes adorning the walls are by the artist Vecchietta. He also painted two pieces found in the apse depicting the ‘Flagellation’ and the ‘Road to Calvary’.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Duomo di Siena

14) Duomo di Siena (must see)

From its earliest days, The Cathedral of Siena was dedicated as a Roman Catholic Marian church, although it has since been dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. The cathedral itself was originally designed and completed between 1215 and 1263 on the site of an earlier structure. It has the form of a Latin cross, with a slightly projecting transept, a dome and a bell tower. The dome rises from a hexagonal base with supporting columns. The lantern atop the dome was added by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The nave is separated from the two aisles by semicircular arches. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with addition of red marble on the façade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, etiologically linked to black and white horses of the legendary city's founders, Senius and Aschius.

In the interior, the pictorial effect of the black and white marble stripes on the walls and columns is striking to the eye. The round, stained-glass window in the choir was made in 1288 from the designs of Duccio. It is one of the earliest remaining examples of Italian stained glass. The inlaid marble mosaic floor is one of the most ornate of its kind in Italy and covers the whole floor of the cathedral. It consists of 56 panels in different sizes. The facade of Siena Cathedral is one of the most fascinating in all of Italy and certainly one of the most impressive features in Siena. Each of the cardinal points (west, east, north, and south) has their own distinct work; by far the most impressive of these is the west facade. Acting as the main entryway to the Duomo proper, it boasts three portals; the central one is capped by a bronze-work sun. There is debate as to when work on the upper facade was completed. Most scholars agree that it was finished sometime between 1360 and 1370, though when it began again is not known.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

15) Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (must see)

The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo houses the art treasures of the Cathedral of Siena. It is one of the oldest private museums in Italy.

In the year 1339, Siena was one of the wealthiest cities in Italy. At the time there were plans to extend the cathedral structure to make it one of the biggest in the world. Construction had started when the plague epidemic that swept across Europe killed almost two thirds of the population of Siena in 1348. As a result, the new nave remained unfinished. The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo was established in 1879 in the walled up right aisle of the unfinished new nave of the cathedral. It has an impressive collection of religious art and sculpture by well known Sienese artists.

Treasures at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo include Sienese religious sculpture which was to have adorned the façade of the unfinished structure, stained glass windows by the artist, Duccio di Buoninsegna, tapestries and manuscripts. A separate air conditioned room houses the Maesta altarpiece also by Duccio di Buoninsegna which is the treasure of the museum. When the artist finished the piece in 1311, it is said that it was carried in procession to the cathedral by the clergy, statesmen and townsfolk. Visitors can climb the stairs on to what was planned to be the façade of a new cathedral in 1339 and get spectacular views across Siena.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Via di Città

16) Via di Città (must see)

The Via di Citta is one of the main streets of old Siena. Today it is a pedestrian road that is flanked by many of the well known historical buildings in the city. The Via di Citta or City Road was once called the Via Galgaria. This was because it consisted at the time of the shops of the city shoemakers. The road is laid as a slope and the highest point which is a quarter flanked by medieval structures commands spectacular views across the Siena. At one end of the street is a square called the Quattro Cantoni. The square is the meeting point of the main streets of the city. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the high society of the city frequented the site.

The beautiful buildings along the Via di Citta are the Palazzo Patrizi that dates back to the 14th century and houses the Accademia degli Intronati today, the music academy at the Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, the Palazzo delle Papesse, a Florentine renaissance style building that houses a contemporary arts center, the Gothic style, Palazzo Marsili and the Loggia della Mercanzia, the Sienese equivalent of a chamber of commerce. Of the three main streets of old Siena, the Via di Citta is flanked by the most stately and elegant buildings in the city.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Pinacoteca Nazionale

17) Pinacoteca Nazionale (must see)

The Pinacoteca Nazionale is a national museum inaugurated in 1932, housing especially late medieval and Renaissance paintings from Italian artists. The gallery has one of the largest collections of Sienese paintings with gold backgrounds from the 14th and 15th centuries. Valuable works by international painters donated by art collectors are also displayed.

Two palaces, the Brigidi and Buonsignori house the Pinacoteca Nazionale Art Gallery in Siena. The Brigidi palace is a 14th century building that served as the residence of the Pannocchieschi family. The Buonsignori palace is a 15th century building although its façade dates back to the 19th century. The art collection was founded by the Abbott Giuseppe Ciaccheri in the 18th century and was expanded through donations and acquisitions. The Italian government took over the museum in 1930 and from 1977, the museum displayed works by international artists. The second floor of the Pinacoteca Nazionale has a valuable collection of Sienese paintings on gold backgrounds from the 14th and 15th centuries. They are documented and displayed in chronological order at the gallery. The first floor has works of Sienese artists from the 15th century onwards. The Spannocchi Collection added in 1977 has works by Northern and Flemish masters. The ground floor is dedicated to cartoons, sketches and sculpture displays. Well known Sienese artists featured at the gallery are Sodoma, the Lorenzetti brothers and Simone Martini.

Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 8:15 am-7:15 pm; Monday, Sunday and holidays: 9 am-1 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Orto Botanico dell'Università

18) Orto Botanico dell'Università

The Orto Botanico dell'Università di Siena (2.5 hectares) is a botanical garden operated by the University of Siena.
The garden's history reaches back to 1588 when the university began to raise medicinal herbs.
Today the garden is located inside Siena's city walls, covering one hillside of the valley S. Agostino. Its central collection is arranged in systematic order within brick-bordered, rectangular flower beds, along with old specimens of exotic and local plants. A farm area grows fruit, olive trees and vines of the main Chianti grapes. The garden also contains three greenhouses enclosing a total of about 500 m², namely, a tropical greenhouse, tepidarium that houses exotic species in winter as well as a succulent collection (120 m²) organized by country of origin, and an orangerie containing carnivorous plants and the principal citrus varieties grown in Europe.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Siena, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Siena

Create Your Own Walk in Siena

Creating your own self-guided walk in Siena is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Siena Sightseeing Tour

Siena Sightseeing Tour

Siena is a beautiful medieval city situated in the center of the Toscana region. As a city with a rich history, it has a lot of cultural and historical attractions to offer visitors. The following tour will lead you to the most famous sights of Siena.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Museum Tour of Siena

Museum Tour of Siena

Siena is famous for its museums, which preserve a great number of cultural masterpieces. The museums of Siena showcase paintings, sculptures and frescoes that date back to ancient times. You can also get aсquainted with other objects related to the cultural and historical development of the city. If you want to feel the spirit of Siena, visit the notable museums included on this tour.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Top Religious Buildings

Top Religious Buildings

Churches in Siena have both historical and cultural value, as almost every one of them is decorated with Renaissance art. Some of the masterpieces date back to the 13th century. A walking tour of Siena's places of worship is the best way to learn about the cultural and spiritual center of the city. Take this tour to visit some of Siena's most famous churches.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Siena's Historical Buildings Tour

Siena's Historical Buildings Tour

Siena is the city of ancient architecture. You can observe architectural styles from different periods of history in Siena's imperious castles, palaces and other historic buildings. Be sure to visit Siena's most important historic structures that are found on this tour.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles