Siena, Piazza del Campo

Palazzo Comunale

The history of the building that is home to the Town Council and to the Mayor of Siena

Piazza del Campo, 1

The Palazzo Pubblico of Siena rises next to the slender Torre del Mangia above Piazza del Campo to which it is strongly linked in historical terms. It was built between 1298-1310, and not in stone but rather brickwork with white elements in marble. The building presents flat-topped merlons and develops longitudinally decorative windows. The numerous openings all over the buildings served to hold beams or girders for galleries.

In the years following 1193 the "Bolgano" or Mint of the Republic of Siena was built, along with the Customs house, where the Palazzo Comunale stands today.

Up to 1270, the seat of the government of the city was in the Curia of the Chiesa di San Pellegrino; the 'Consiglio' or Town Council met in three specific churches and its offices were actually housed in the palazzi of the noblemen, but when this government of aristocrats fell, a new, more 'neutral' seat was proposed. After much debate, in 1288 the decision was made to incorporate both the "Bolgano" and the Customs House into what would become the new Palazzo, the construction of which was terminated definitively in 1310 when the so-called 'Government of Nine' finally took office.

It is uncertain whether the last floor of the main part of the building, characterised by mullioned two-light windows and round arches, is part of the original construction, or whether it was built in 1326 as some historians sustain.
The second floors of the two wings were built only in 1680 though still maintaining the original style and balancing the proportions of the neighbouring buildings. The façade is built of stone up to the first row of three-light windows, and then of brickwork. In typical Sienese style, the windows have three small arches supported by 'cippi' or small columns while in the centre of each arched lintel (between the small arches and the main lancet of each window) there is a coat of arms of Siena. On the top of the main body, one floor higher compared to the lateral wings, there is a crenellated coping in Guelph style, that is with flat-topped, not swallow-tailed merlons. In the centre of the façade a large white disc presents the monogram of Christ.

The Palazzo Comunale is still today the official seat of the Communal Administration, housing the offices of the modern Town Council, those of the Mayor and some State rooms. On the first floor there is the Civic Museum and the theatre of the 'Rinnovati'. On the second floor there is the Town Council Meeting Room and a loggia facing south. Next to the Torre del Mangia there is the so-called 'Cortile del Podestà', the Podestà Courtyard, decorated with antique coats of arms, which also functions as entrance to the Palazzo.

Where not a single stone has changed down the centuries
Siena shines perfectly from a distance in its medieval magnificence. The three hills amid which the city rests rise up like an idyllic film set, the old boundaries soften like the past into a countryside that sometimes still seem like the scene painted by Ambrosia Lorenzetti in the Allegory of Good Government in the halls of Siena's city hall. ...