The square got its name from its former life as a green space that hosted the town’s market, and today acts as its prime activity hub and open-air arena where twice a year the famous Palio takes place.
On July 2 and August 16, the quiet stone-paved square is covered with a layer of earth, made up of sand and gravel, and the horses of the different districts face off.
On the Campo (field), where during the Middle Ages people would meet to discuss city matters, we find some of the most important Sienese monuments: the Palazzo Pubblico (Public Palace), inside which various city councils have governed from the late 13th century onwards, when the Nine Lords were instated.
Given that I Nove were unable to leave the palace for the six months that they would be in office, they commissioned the construction of the Loggia dei Nove, a balcony overlooking the Piazza del Mercato at the back of the Palace, where they would enjoy the fresh air over beautiful views of the Orto dei Pecci.
The Palazzo Pubblico hosts the Museo Civico (Civic Museum) with its masterpieces of Sienese art, among which the wonderful 14th-century fresco of the Allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, as well as Simone Martini’s Maestà.