Siena's Historical Buildings Tour (Self Guided), Siena

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.
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Siena's Historical Buildings Tour Map

Guide Name: Siena's Historical Buildings Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Siena (See other walking tours in Siena)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Author: irenebo
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Fortezza Medicea
  • Palazzo Salimbeni
  • Palazzo Tolomei
  • Loggia della Mercanzia
  • Palazzo Pubblico
  • Palazzo Chigi Saracini
  • Battistero di San Giovanni
Fortezza Medicea

1) 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
Palazzo Salimbeni

2) 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
Palazzo Tolomei

3) Palazzo Tolomei

The Palazzo Tolomei is one of the oldest private palaces in Siena. It was carefully restored in 1971 and is one of the most beautiful among the grand residences of the city.

The Palazzo Tolemei was commissioned in the year 1208 for Jacopo di Rinaldo Tolomei. The Tolomeis were a wealthy banking family who traced their origins to Egypt. They were descendants of the kings of Egypt and came to Italy with Charlemagne. They received patronage from many churches in the city including the nearby church of St. Christopher. The family was driven out of the city in 1267 and their residence was damaged by the Ghibellines after the Battle of Montaperti. It was restored shortly after between the years 1270 and 1272.

The Palazzo Tolemei has a well preserved Gothic style stone façade that was typical of palaces in the 13th century. Two lines of elaborate double lighted windows look over a wide central portal. The large stone building has pointed arches and has two floors. The symbol of the Tolemei family consisting of three upright crescents and an upturned triangle is carved on the façade above the portal and above the two doors. The Palazzo Tolemei, today houses a bank and several offices.
Loggia della Mercanzia

4) Loggia della Mercanzia

The Loggia della Mercanzia is a medieval gothic building located behind the Piazza del Campo in Siena. It served as an early trading venue in the city.

The Loggia della Mercanzia, also called the Loggia di San Paolo or Loggia dei Nobili, was a lodge for the merchants of the city. It was designed by Sano di Matteo and built between 1417 and 1444. It served as a medieval version of the modern chamber of commerce. The well preserved building has a style that combines Sienese Gothic and Renaissance styles with beautiful sculptures in its façade and frescoes in the interior.

The Loggia della Mercanzia has three arches with highly decorated pillars. The statues on the pillars are of St. Peter, St. Paul by the sculptor Vecchietta and the three patron saints of Siena, Saint Savino, Ansano and Vittore by Ferdinando Fuga. A tabernacle was added in the 17th century supported by columns. The vaults of the building have stuccos and frescoes that have been extensively restored in the 19th century. Notable among them is one by the Pastorino of Pastorini and another by Lorenzo Rustici. The building gives visitors a unique insight into the ethics of medieval traders and merchants who had a strong sense of civic duty and stood for republican ideals.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Pubblico

5) 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
Palazzo Chigi Saracini

6) Palazzo Chigi Saracini (must see)

The medieval Palazzo Chigi Saracini built in the 14th century contains the eclectic art collection of Count Galgano Lucarini Saracini. It houses the prestigious Academia Musicale Chigiana founded by Fabio Chigi Lucarini Saracini who inherited the Palazzo in the early 20th century.

The Palazzo Chigi Saracini was built in the middle of the 12th century. At one time it belonged to the wealthy and influential Marescotti family. In 1506 it was purchased by Piccolomini-Mandoli who renovated its façade in a Renaissance style. In 1770 the house changed hands again and was purchased by the Saracini family who enlarged the façade in keeping with the line of the street and collected the works of art that adorn the interiors. The Academia Musicale Chigiana that now functions from the palazzo was established in 1932 and has produced many illustrious musicians like Carlo Maria Giulini, Salvatore Accardo and Claudio Abbado.

Guided tours are available around the academy today and visitors can view the art collection of Count Galgano Lucarini Saracini. The collection includes statues, bas reliefs, paintings, ceramics, artifacts made of precious stones, ivory and wood. It spans the Renaissance through the 18th century period, including paintings by Botticelli, Sodoma and Sassetta.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Battistero di San Giovanni

7) 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

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 Introduction Walking Tour

Siena Introduction Walking Tour

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.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
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