The Basilica of San Francesco

20 agosto - Basilica di San Francesco

An imposing church that has undergone many transformations over time.

The Basilica di San Francesco is located in Piazza San Francesco and is among the most important churches in Siena.

It’s easily reached by walking down Via dei Rossi, one of the cross streets of Via Banchi di Sopra, a few steps from Piazza Tolomei and Piazza Salimbeni.

It was built in the 13th century at the behest of the Franciscans, but over time it underwent numerous renovations and transformations. For instance, following a fire in 1655, it was restored with Baroque additions that did little to match the Romanesque style of the basilica.

At the end of the 19th century, architect Giuseppe Partini decided to dismantle the Baroque altars and remove some paintings to restore stylistic uniformity in the interior.

The restoration work also led to the replacement of the original facade in green and white marble stripes (in the same style as the exterior walls of Siena Cathedral) with the current very sober neo-Gothic style made of bricks.

Among the few decorations, it’s worth mentioning the marble cusped gateway depicting St Francis and St Bernardino in adoration of the Virgin and Child with two angels at the sides and Christ with the cross at the top of the cusp.

The rose window represents the symbols of the four evangelists on its sides. On the facade are the marble coats of arms of Siena and the families that contributed to the restoration of the basilica. The rose window is the only original element of the 15th-century facade by Francesco di Giorgio Martini.

As for the interior, the basilica consists of a single nave and has an Egyptian cross plan. The wide nave and transept feature roof trusses. The interior walls are characterised by white and green marble stripes (as was the original exterior).

The beautiful crypt of the Basilica is currently used as the Library of the Faculty of Economics of the University of Siena.


Where: Piazza S. Francesco 5, Siena

Opening hours:

From 7:30 am to 12:15 am;

From 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm.


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