Symbol of the city of Siena
Beautiful, stunning Piazza del Campo!
It’s the universal symbol of Siena with its distinctive shell shape and it’s just one of the reasons the city’s old town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Siena’s main square was built on the intersection of three roads leading into the city. Its shape and the layout of the buildings facing it were not designed by chance, but are the result of special regulations laid down by the Municipality in 1297. For example, all buildings were required to have only mullioned windows with two or three lights facing the square, and if a building did not meet these rules it would be demolished.
With a circumference of 333 metre, the square was paved with a fishtail red brick pattern divided by 10 rows of white travertine to create the shape of a shell- The shell is divided into 9 parts that seem to point toward Palazzo Pubblico. What’s more, the number 9 isn’t random, but represents the 9 governors who exercised their power during the ‘Government of the Nine’ in office from 1287 to 1355.It was considered one of the most peaceful and stable governments in Italy.
The exterior of the square is made of sandstone and during the Palio, which take place on 2 July and 16 August each year, it’s covered with tuff.
In 1419, Fonte Gaia fountain was sculpted by Jacopo della Quercia. The original fountain is now kept at the Santa Maria della Scala hospital while in Piazza del Campo we find a 19th-century replica made by Tito Sarrocchi. Meanwhile, at the lowest point, one can see the so-called ‘gavinone’, a water drain now adorned with a sculpture created by Sienese artist Massimo Lippi.
Piazza del Campo was created to become a meeting place for citizens, hosting various activities such as markets, games and political events, hence the reason for its large size.
Even today, the most important events in Siena take place in this spectacular square, including the Palio of course, various events related to the carnival, the famous Mercato nel Campo market that takes place during the Christmas season as well as various initiatives and concerts organized by the City during the summer.
Always visible wonder