15 best sights of Siena

*Review of the best according to the editors. About the selection criteria. This material is subjective, it is not an advertisement and does not serve as a guide to purchase. Before buying you need to consult with an expert.

Ancient Italian city of Siena, in the region of Tuscany, stands on three hills, surrounded by picturesque fields, olive groves and vineyards. Siena is known for its unique medieval atmosphere of the Trecento period. Its architectural appearance has remained virtually unchanged since the 15th century, with classic palazzos, ancient temples and narrow streets. The central part of the city is protected by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage. Despite the dense development, which has almost no green spaces, the streets do not suffer from smog as most of them prohibit automobile traffic except for cabs and public transportation. The settlement covers an area of 118 square kilometers and is home to about 54,000 people. Approximately 40 percent of residents are students attending the University of Siena, one of Italy’s oldest educational institutions, founded in the mid-13th century.

According to archeological data, an Etruscan settlement on the site of Siena has existed since at least the 5th century B.C. The city itself was founded by the Romans in the 1830s. A growing economy contributed to Siena becoming the center of the autonomous republic of the same name by the 11th century. It has long been in competition with its neighbor Florence, a rivalry that extends not only politically but also culturally. The talented artists and architects who lived in Siena sought to surpass their Florentine rivals. Today the city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Tuscany, with up to 180,000 visitors every year. Siena is literally filled with ancient sights and below we will introduce you to the most interesting ones.

Siena Attractions

The sights of Siena1Piazza del Campo5.0
2Palazzo Poglico and the City Museum of Siena4.9
3Torre del Mangia4.8
4Chapel di Piazza4.7
5Fountain of Joy4.7
6Palazzo Sancedoni4.7
8Piccolomini Library4.6
9San Giovanni Baptistery4.5
10Santa Maria della Scala Museum Complex4.5
11St. Dominic’s Basilica4.5
12Pinacoteca Nazionale4.4
13The Val d’Orcia cultural landscape4.3
14Medici Fortress4.2
15Villa Cetinale4.1

Piazza del Campo

sight rating: 5.0

Piazza del Campo

The central square of Siena is one of the most unusual and beautiful medieval squares in Italy. It is shaped like a semicircle deepened to the center, the height difference between the highest and lowest point is almost five meters. From Piazza del Campo 11 main city streets diverge like rays. Most of Siena’s main tourist attractions are either near the square or in its immediate vicinity.

Until the beginning of the 12th century, the site of Piazza del Campo was a field (which is reflected in the name in Italian “campo” meaning “field”). It served as a market place for the city and as a crossroads for the most important trade routes to the sea, Rome, and Florence. Soon after the Council of Nine came to power, the square was paved with bricks in various shades of red, divided into nine sectors by white limestone strips. The sectors symbolized each of the members of the government of the time. Piazza del Campo is still the site of all the major events in the life of the city. And twice a year, on July 2 and August 16, it hosts the famous Siena Palio – a round-robin race on unbridled horses. But on any other days, the square is a favorite destination for tourists and locals alike.

Palazzo Poglico and the City Museum of Siena

Rating of the attraction: 4.9

Palazzo Publiaco and the City Museum of Siena

The Palazzo Poglio is a true masterpiece of medieval architecture and stands at the base of the town’s central square. The palace was built by decision of the Council of Nine, as the administration needed a new, more respectable building. Construction lasted from the end of the 13th century to the 1440s. It combines the city council offices, the customs office and the mint. Overlooking Piazza del Campo the long main façade is slightly concave, it follows the shape of the square. The first floor is in white travertine stone, the second floor is in typical Sienese reddish-brown brick. Gothic-style building with large laced windows and jagged roof sections.

Nowadays, the upper part of the Palazzo Poglico is occupied by the city municipality, while the lower part houses the city museum. The museum collection contains ceramics, jewelry, coins, sculptures, and many works of art from the 14th and 16th centuries. The fresco Maesta by Simone Martini and the Allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti are Gothic masterpieces that occupy a special place.

Torre del Mangia Tower

Rating of the attraction: 4.8

Torre del Mancha

The Torre del Mangia is the dominant feature of the central part of Siena and one of its most recognizable symbols. The tower adjoins the Palazzo Poglio building and rises 102 meters above the square. Long after its construction, which lasted more than twenty years (until the middle of the 14th century) it was the second highest tower in the country, after the 112 m high Torazzo of Cremona, located in the Lombardy region. The project was designed by two brothers: Francesco and Minuccio di Rinaldo. The main part of the structure is made of terracotta bricks, and the top of the bell tower is lined with white travertine. The name Torre del Mangia translates from Italian as “the tower of gluttony”, and this unusual name was attributed to the first bell ringer, Giovanni di Balduccio, known for his profligacy and excessive love of food.

the tower bell has been changed several times over its history, and today it has a seven-tonne bell from the middle of the XVIIth century with a characteristic “hoarse” sound. With the striking of the city bell you can hear the start of important events, like the Palio horse race. The top of the tower is open for tourists; to get to the upper observation deck one has to climb a narrow, steep staircase up to 400 steps. Magnificent views of the city and the natural landscape around it. Torre del Mangia is very famous, not only in Italy, but also far beyond its borders. There are several duplicates of this bell tower in the world, for example the Chamberlain Memorial Tower in Birmingham, England or the Pilgrims’ Monument in Provincetown, USA.

Chapel of the Piazza

Rating of the sight: 4.7

Chapel di Piazza

At the foot of the Torre del Mange you can see the marble loggia, it was built in 1352, after the city was rid of the plague. The graceful chapel is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as it was believed that it was her patronage that saved the townspeople during the Black Death. The main part of the chapel was built by the architect Domenico di Agostino, but was not completed; his work was completed by Giovanni di Cecco. After about a hundred years, the chapel was completed with arches and columns by Antonio Frederighi in the Renaissance style. In the 16th century, the artist Antonio Bazici completed the decoration of the Piazza Chapel with frescoes depicting biblical scenes, including the Madonna and Child in her arms.

Fountain of Joy

Attraction rating: 4.7

Fountain of Joy

Siena’s Fountain of Joy is located in the city’s main square, opposite the Palazzo Público building. It was built in the middle of the 14th century on a project of the architects Agnolo and Agostino and kilometers of underground aqueducts were built to supply the water. It was also planned that Agostino would create a marble decoration, but he soon died, and in 1408 the city authorities commissioned the famous sculptor Jacopo della Quercia to do the decoration. He decorated the three walls of the fountain with bas-reliefs and figures on Biblical themes: the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child and angels, as well as compositions telling the story of the creation of the first man and the expulsion from paradise. In addition, as a reference to the mythology of Siena, Jacopo della Quercia sculpted Rea Silvia (mother of the legendary twins Romulus and Remus) and placed statues of lions and she-wolves, the ancient symbols of the city, below. The decoration of the Fountain of Joy was completed in 1419.

In the middle of the XIX century it was decided to move the original composition in order to preserve it in the main city museum. The place of the originals in the fountain was taken by copies made by the talented local sculptor Tito Sarocchi.

Palazzo Sancedoni

Rating of the sight: 4.7

Palazzo Sancedoni

Not far from the Fountain of Joy, the arc-shaped facade follows the outlines of Piazza del Campo. The Gothic building was built in the 13th century to unite the surrounding aristocratic houses, which belonged to the Sienese noble family, the Sancedoni. The building was designed by Giovanni di Agostino. The most impressive element of the palace for a long time was the tower, but in the 18th century it had to be significantly shortened due to the danger of collapse.

Four centuries after its construction, this splendid building was modernised, maintaining its original stylistic features. In addition to the widening of the facade, the layout of the house was also changed and a wide grand staircase appeared. The interior rooms were decorated with frescoes and sculptures. Today, the building houses the offices of a bank and the first floor is occupied by restaurants. Nevertheless, guided tours of the medieval halls are available. Of particular interest to visitors are the ceiling paintings by the artist Giandomenico Ferretti and the chapel built in honor of the twelfth-century Dominican monk Ambrogio Sancedoni.


Rating of the sight: 4.7


Siena Cathedral is one of the most unique and majestic buildings in the city. In ancient times there was a Roman temple dedicated to Minerva, then it was replaced by a Christian church and finally in 1215 the construction of a grandiose temple in honor of the Virgin Mary began. The basic works were carried out until 1263, and at the beginning of the 14th century a 77-meter-high bell tower was added to the cathedral. Later, at the height of the economic boom, the expansion of the building began; it was planned to surpass St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. But an outbreak of bubonic plague ruined all the plans of the Sienese, and now only the foundations of the walls remind us of the ambitious medieval project.

The cathedral is in the traditional form of a Latin cross. Its decoration lasted almost two and a half centuries, so it is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles. The façade is decorated with many sculptures and above the central arch there is an artistic painting depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary. Black and white, the heraldic colors of Siena, alternate in both the exterior and interior. The interior is decorated with paintings by Luigi Mussini. The marble floor is covered with more than half a hundred themes of religious art, which were painted by various artists from the time of its construction until the 19th century. Another of the temple’s treasures is the statue of John the Baptist by the famous sculptor Donatello.

Piccolomini Library

Rating of the sight: 4.6

Piccolomini Library

The Piccolomini Library is within the Cathedral grounds. This unique collection of books and manuscripts was founded in the 15th century by Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini, archbishop of the city and nephew of Pope Pius II. The library, surprisingly enough, is not primarily known for its books, but for its superbly preserved Renaissance frescoes and ornaments. Pinturicchio painted important events from the biography of Pius II, including his attempt to organize a crusade against the Turks. The central part of the library is decorated with a sculptural group of the “Three Graces,” which is a Roman copy of an earlier Hellenistic work.

San Giovanni Baptistery

Landmark Rating: 4.5

San Giovanni Baptistery

The Baptistery is behind the Cathedral of Siena, and has been used for baptizing the city’s citizens since the 14th century. The building, designed by the architect Camaino di Crescentino, is lined mainly with white marble with decorative elements of black and red marble. The interior of the baptistery is decorated with frescoes depicting scenes from the life of John the Baptist.

Most impressive is the hexagonal font of bronze and marble. The main part of this masterpiece from the Trecento period is by sculptor Donatello. The marble ark above the font with bronze angels, allegorical statues of Christian virtues and a statue of John the Baptist was created by Jacoppo della Quercia.

Santa Maria della Scala Museum Complex

Rating of the attraction: 4.5

Santa Maria della Scala Museum Complex

The former hospital of Santa Maria della Scala faces the cathedral. In the Middle Ages it was one of the first major institutions of its kind, providing reception for pilgrims, assistance to the poor and shelter for street children. Originally founded by Catholics, the hospital was taken over by the city council in the 14th century. Thanks to its generous patrons, the edifice flourished and played an ever-increasing role in the life of Siena. The hospital attracted many artists who took part in its decoration.

Since 1995, the Gothic building has been serving as a museum complex, with three of its four floors open to the public. The Pilgrims’ Hall, with frescos by Domenico di Bartolo and other renowned Sienese artists, is most popular. Frescoes depict episodes from the history of the hospital. Here you can find the richly sculpted Church of Santissima Annunziata and two ancient chapels. St. Catherine’s Chapel on the third floor. The Archaeological Museum on the first floor displays artefacts discovered during excavations carried out in the vicinity of Siena. The complex also hosts a variety of exhibitions and other arts-related cultural events from time to time.

Saint Dominic’s Basilica

Rating of the sight: 4.5

Saint Dominic's Basilica

The Basilica is 300 meters from Piazza del Campo. It was built in 1226 by the Dominican monks on the hill of Camporegio, that the order received as a gift from the Sienese Malavolti family. In the 14th century, it was redesigned to increase its size and add Gothic features to its profile. A bell tower with a crenellated top was built at the same time. The massive brick building looks rather austere, which is typical for religious buildings of poor monastic orders. During its history the basilica has suffered earthquakes and fires many times, but each time it was completely reconstructed.

The interior rooms are decorated with frescoes by Sodoma and Andrea Vanni depicting scenes from the life of St. Catherine of Siena. There is also a reliquary where relics of a revered saint rest. The Cappella delle Volte contains a portrait of St. Catherine, painted during her lifetime by Andrea Vanni. Also within the walls of the basilica you can see the masterpieces “Ecstasy of St. Catherine” by brush Sodom, a triptych “Madonna and Child” by Matteo di Giovanni and other works by prominent Sienese masters of the Middle Ages. Visitors have access to the observation deck of the tower, from where most of the city center, including the cathedral, can be seen.

Pinacoteca Nazionale

Rating of the sight: 4.4

Pinakothek Nazionale

The Pinacoteca Nazionale is one of Siena’s largest art galleries. It is located in two buildings: the 15th century Palazzo Buonsignori and the 14th century Palazzo Brigidi. Most of the collection of paintings is housed in the Palazzo Buonsignori, a perfectly preserved example of late Gothic architecture. The gallery displays works by artists of the Siena school from the 13th to the 16th century.

The core of the exhibition consists of paintings collected by Abbot Giuseppe Chaccheri in the late 1700s. The museum was later enriched by a large number of donations of paintings by Siena noble families. And around the end of the twentieth century, the gallery featured paintings by famous foreign artists. Today guests of the Pinacoteca can admire such masterpieces as “Madonna” by Guido da Siena, “Annunciation” by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and “Adoration of the Magi” by Bartolo di Fredi. In addition to the collection of paintings the gallery houses a small collection of sculptural works from the 14th and 15th centuries.

Val d’Orcia Cultural Landscape

Rating of the attraction: 4.3

Cultural landscape of the Val d'Orcia

The Val d’Orcia natural region is located in the valley of the Orcia River, it belongs to the province of Siena and extends over 185 square kilometers. The picturesque landscape consists of gentle green hills, olive groves, golden fields and neatly planted rows of vineyards. In the midst of all this magnificence you can see the neatly built farms and private estates. At the southern end of the valley rises Mount Amiata. The region is rich not only in flora, but also in fauna – there are eagles, long-eared owls, foxes, martens, wild boars and even wolves.

In ancient times Val d’Orcia played an important role in the economic life of Italy, as the Cassia road ran through it, connecting the capital to the northern regions of the state. From the 14th century onwards the valley went through a phase of settlement and development. Its landscapes have inspired generations of Renaissance painters to create magnificent masterpieces. Today, the region is a World Heritage Site. It is extremely popular among fans of eco-tourism. The beautiful landscapes have not escaped the attention of world cinema – it is in the expanse of the Val d’Orcia that scenes from the films “Gladiator” and “The English Patient” were filmed.

Medici Fortress

Rating of the attraction: 4.2

Medici Fortress

This fortress was built in the 16th century as a fortified residence for Duke Cosimo de Medici. It was formerly the site of an ancient Spanish castle. The construction work was designed by the architect Baldassare Lanci, and as a result the massive brick building, reinforced with side bastions, became a symbol of power for the new ruler of the city.

From the beginning of the 19th century, the fortress lost its military significance and was converted into a temporary exhibition. Part of the premises are also occupied by the city’s Jazz Association and in the basement of the building there is a wine cellar where visitors are invited to taste a selection of Tuscan wines.

Villa Cetinale

Rating of the attraction: 4.1

Villa Cetinale

Located 10 kilometers west of Siena the villa was built in the 17th century upon the project of Benedetto Giovannelli for Fabio Chigi, the future Pope. It was then inherited by Fabio Chigi who redesigned the building, giving it its Baroque features. Kigi family owned the villa for about 250 years, then it was bought by British politician Anthony Lambton. He restored the pretty dilapidated structure and refurbished the citrus orchard, which was adorned with period statues. Today the luxury property has been converted into a comfortable first class hotel.

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