Museo Civico di Siena

The museum

The Museo Civico di Siena is housed on the first floor of the Palazzo Pubblico in Piazza del Campo. The Palazzo, still used for its original function, contains the offices and rooms of the municipal council. From the main entrance, one enters the Cortile del Podestà, where the entrance to the museum is located, and the Torre del Mangia, from which one can enjoy a splendid view after climbing more than 400 steps.

The history

The Palazzo Pubblico was built between 1297 and 1310 during the government of the Nine (1287-1355) of the Republic of Siena, named for the nine representatives of the citizens from the middle class. The nine governors remained in office for two months during which they never left the palace, so as not to be influenced by anyone.

The collection

The exhibition itinerary begins with a large picture gallery with works from the 16th-18th centuries, and continues with the Risorgimento Room, whose walls are decorated with a monumental cycle of frescoes depicting episodes from the life of Victor Emmanuel II, the first sovereign of united Italy. This is followed by the Sala di Balìa, with wall paintings executed in the early 15th century by Spinello Aretino and Martino di Bartolomeo; the Sala dei Cardinali, where various detached 14th and 15th century frescoes are preserved, which come from outside walls or from other rooms in the palazzo; and the Sala del Concistoro, famous for its vault, painted by Domenico Beccafumi between 1529 and 1535, with episodes of civic virtue taken from Greek and Roman history.

Passing the Chapel, built in the early 15th century and decorated by the painter Taddeo di Bartolo, one enters the adjoining Sala del Mappamondo, which takes its name from the lost parchment disc on which Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted in 1344 the possessions of the Sienese state and the then known world. This is the largest room in the Palazzo Pubblico, originally intended for meetings of the General Council of the Republic and therefore also called the Council Chamber. The walls house works by Simone Martini: the famous Maestà, painted between 1315 and 1321, one of the greatest masterpieces of European Gothic art, and, as a testimony to the political and military successes achieved by the Sienese State in those years, Guidoriccio da Fogliano at the Siege of Montemassi, representing the conquest of Montemassi Castle in Maremma by the Captain of War Guidoriccio da Fogliano in 1328.

One of the most important rooms adjacent to the Sala del Mappamondo is the Sala della Pace or Sala del Buon Governo, where one can admire the cycle of frescoes on Good and Bad Government painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti between 1338 and 1339. The scenes covering three walls of the room depict secular and not religious subjects; The Government of the Nine was intended to demonstrate through the allegory of the figure of Justice how the city and surrounding countryside function under a just government (good government) and how it would be if it were the other way round (bad government). The visit ends with the Hall of the Pillars where various works of Sienese painting and sculpture from the 14th and 15th centuries are preserved. Also part of the museum tour is the monumental 14th-century loggia that offers a wide view of the valley behind the Palazzo.

The artists

    • Spinello Aretino (1350-1410)
    • Martino di Bartolomeo (1389-1434)
    • Domenico Beccafumi (1486-1551)
    • Taddeo di Bartolo (1362-1422)
    • Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1290-1348)
    • Simone Martini (1284-1344)

Picture: Majesty in Siena’s Palazzo Pubblico, 1312-1315, Simone Martini

Il CAMPO, 1, 53100 SIENA
Opening hours:

From 1 November to 28 February from 10 am to 6 pm. Ticket office closing time and last admission at 5.15 pm.

New Year’s Eve, from 12 am to 6 pm. Ticket office closing time and last admission at 5.15 pm.

From 1 March to 31 October, from 10 am to 7 pm. Ticket office closing time and last admission 6.15 pm.

Closing time:

25 Dicember.

Average visit time:

1-2 hours

Books and guides

Merchandise

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The Complesso Monumentale Santa Maria della Scala, erected in front of the cathedral in the 12th century, originated as a medieval hospital, fulfilling multiple functions over the centuries related to the reception of travellers and pilgrims, the sick and needy, and children abandoned to the hospital family. Since the 1990s, the Complex has been transformed into an exhibition-museum space, housing civic and state collections, where it is possible to retrace a thousand-year architectural, artistic, social, political and economic history. Since 2008, the cultural proposal has also been extended to the promotion of contemporary art through group and solo exhibitions of internationally renowned artists.


Average visit time:

1-2 hours

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