The Palazzo Pubblico is one of the most famous Sienese monument. Looking at its façade from Piazza del Campo, it's possible to see, immediately, its different periods of construction: on the lower level of the three-mullioned (triple-arched) windows, stone was used and then later brick. Of all the buildings that look onto Piazza del Campo, the Palazzo Pubblico is the most imposing and stands as the natural centre of the square's architectural perspective. It was built in the end of 13th century. The outside of the structure is an example of Italian medieval architecture with Gothic influences. The lower story is stone; the upper crenelated stories are made of brick.
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A Brief History of Palazzo Pubblico
The construction of Palazzo Pubblico began in 1297 to serve as the Republic of Siena's government, which consisted of the Podestà and Council of Nine, the elected officials who performed executive functions. The campanile or bell tower, Torre del Mangia, was built between 1325 and 1344 with its crown designed by the painter, Lippo Memmi. The tower was designed to be taller than the tower in neighboring rival Florence; at the time it was the tallest structure in Italy. The large council chamber, known as the Salone del Gran Consiglio, along with two side-wings, were completed in the first half of the 14th century. The large copper disc bearing the monogram of Christ was placed here in 1425 in memory of the fact that St Bernardino of Siena preached in this very square. The top of the tower, which is 88 metres high and can be reached by mounting exactly 400 steps, commands magnificent views over the city and the surrounding countryside. Currently the Palazzo Pubblico houses the offices of the town administration. The first floor houses the Museo Civico, which is open to the public and contains a number of unique art treasures.
The Civic Museum of Palazzo Pubblico
If you like frescoes, the Civic Museum (Museo Civico) hosted in the Palazzo Pubblico is the place to visit. It's the first thing to do at Palazzo Pubblico. You can step into the courtyard without paying but there's a ticket for the Museo Civico. At the end of the courtyard, you will find the ticket office to the museum, beside the entrance to the city theater. The museum has a few rooms that are wall-to-wall with frescoes.
Climb the Tower Of The Palazzo Pubblico
Another thing to do at Palazzo Pubblico is to climb the tower. Torre del Mangia is also known as the bell tower was built between 1338-1348. The tower was built to be exactly the same height as the Siena Cathedral as a sign that the church and the state had equal amounts of power. The marble loggia on the top, known as Cappella di Piazza, was added in 1352 as a vow for the Holy Virgin by the Sienese survivors from the Black Death. Climb the 400 narrow steps to get to the top of the tower, the Torre del Mangia, and you'll get a 360 degree view of the city and surrounding countryside. Be aware that only 25 people are allowed in at a time in high season, so expect a wait. You'll be asked to leave your bags in lockers on the first floor. You need a ticket to climb this tower.
How to Get Tickets?
You can access the courtyard of Palazzo Pubblico for free but you need to buy a ticket to see the museum. There is a ticket office in the building, you can buy your tickets there. If you don't want to wait in line, you can purchase your tickets online, there are websites that sell these tickets, mostly combined with the entrance to other museums. If you purchase the tickets online, you will get emails for your ticket confirmation and e-tickets.
How To Get Around?
Walking is the only choice to get around Palazzo Pubblico. The area is accessible on foot and there are steps to get to the top of Torre la Mangia. Make a few stops to admire the works of art in this building when you're walking around.
What Should I Wear?
A t-shirt and a pair of jeans are what most people wear when visiting Palazzo Pubblico. Don't forget to wear comfortable shoes if you're planning to climb the Torre la Mangia. Sunscreen and sunglasses are recommended during the summer.
Best Time to Visit
Visiting Palazzo Publicco really early in the morning when it opens or a few hours before it closes is the best decision. Chances are you won't see a lot of people and you will get a little time for yourself to enjoy this beauty.
Will I Need a Guide?
No, you won't need a guide. Everything you need to know about Palazzo Pubblico can be found online. The site is easy to find and you won't get lost inside.
How To Get There?
Reaching Palazzo Pubblico is easy, since it's located in the city center. You can reach it by foot from the train station easily by 30 min walking. From the train station you could take the escalator that passes in the middle of the Commercial Center and arrives at the Antiporta Camollia. Take your left hand and enter inside the big gate Porta Camollia. Walk always straight until you will see the big square Piazza il Campo on your left and you will find Palazzo Pubblico after. To reach it by bus, buy your tickets at the Edicola or Tabacchi shop and take the first bus available, all busses arrive to the city center.