Florence / Siena (Italy)

Siena tourist attractions

Top 10 Siena attractions, sightseeing & activities Siena Italy

Siena tourist attractions

What are the Siena sights? Overview of the 10 most beautiful attractions and activities of Siena in Tuscany (Italy).

Top 10 Siena attractions

With cities such as Florence and Pisa nearby, the Tuscan city of Siena is sometimes overlooked. Nevertheless, a visit to the Italian city is more than worth it. Siena is an ancient city, which was one of Florence's main rivals politically and culturally as early as the thirteenth century. Since 1995, the historic center of Siena has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

SienaThe Skyline of Medieval Siena in Italy
Tourist attractions in SienaThe Duomo, or the beautiful cathedral of Siena

It is not for nothing that famous films are set in Siena. Think of the famous beginning of James Bond's Quantum of Solace or think of Letters to Juliet. The city with its famous shell-shaped square provides countless beautiful views and locations with its hillside location. Siena has a number of famous sights, but also its own legends á la the Italian capital Rome. According to the well-known legend, Siena was founded by two sons of the famous founder of Rome: Remus. These Senius and Aschius would have left Rome for fear of Remus' brother, their uncle, and traveled north on a black and white horse to live there in peace. Hence, the coat of arms of Siena is still a black and white horse. The Tuscan city has even more special stories, as well as endless sightseeing. It is the ideal place in Tuscany for a day trip. Click on one of these highlights for more information about these unique tourist attractions of Siena.

10x Things to do in Siena

1. Cathedral (Duomo)

The construction of the Cathedral of Siena started in the twelfth century and is now one of the most famous tourist attractions of the city. The Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta is one of the best known examples of Italian Gothic architecture. In addition to the distinctive black and white striped exterior, the cathedral's façade, built in 1380, is richly decorated. Next to the cathedral is the 77 meter high campanile, the freestanding bell tower.

Duomo SienaThe cathedral, the highlight of Siena
Things to do in SienaThe beautiful interior of the Biblioteca Piccolomini

Sightseeing in and around the cathedral

You can marvel at the outside of the Santa Maria Assunta, but don't forget to take a look at the interior and the places around the cathedral. For example, in the church you will find the Biblioteca Piccolomini. It consists of the Piccolomini altar, made by Andrea Bregno in 1481. You will also find frescoes by Pinturicchio about the life of the Piccolomini Pope Pius II. Another attraction around the cathedral is the Battistero di San Giovanni. This is a Renaissance religious building by Camaino di Crescentino with a hexagonal bronze baptismal font in it. Famous are the frescoes depicting the life of John the Baptist made by several well-known Italian artists, such as Ghiberti and Donatello. A final point of interest is Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana. This is the cathedral's museum, where statues that used to adorn the cathedral are kept. Famous statues you will find here are: Madonna and Child by Donatello, Maestà by Duccio and Madonna with the big eyes. The Metropolitana section was added in 1870 and exhibits works of art in bronze, pottery, gold and wood from different centuries.

Tip: You can book your tickets in advance to visit the cathedral. You can choose between the Opa Si Pass with which you can visit all parts in and around the Duomo. The standard ticket only gives you access to the Cathedral and Piccolomini Library. This way you can be sure that you can admire this beautiful highlight.

1. Tickets Siena Cathedral 2. Opa Si Pass Cathedral

Piazza del Campo Siena

2. Piazza del Campo

Siena is best known for the shell-shaped square in the city center. This square, the Piazza del Campo, is the heart of Siena and like all roads lead to Rome, all the cozy narrow streets in Siena lead to this bowl-shaped square. In the square you will find the Fonte Gaia, a monumental fountain that leads the water from the hills north of Siena to the Piazza. The formed underground channels are called bottini and they serve all the fountains in Siena. When the water first reached the piazza in 1342, a feast was held full of joy. That is why the fountain is named after this: Fonte Gaia means 'Source of joy'.

Siena attractions

3. Torre del Mangio

When you think of Piazza del Campo, you will automatically see a huge bell tower in your mind's eye. This is the 102 meters (88 meters if you don't include the Palazzo itself) high bell tower: Torre del Mangia. The tower is a true landmark of the city. Built in the fourteenth century by the Rinaldo brothers, it stands next to the Palazzo Pubblico. The striking thing about the tower is that the lower part is in Gothic style and the top is not. At the foot of the Torre you will find a chapel, which was added after the plague epidemic in 1352. You can also climb the Torre for a small fee for a beautiful view over the city.

What to do in Siena

4. Palazzo Pubblico (Museo Civico)

Also on the Piazza del Campo you will find the Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall, which was built between 1297 and 1310. Previously, the Palazzo was the seat of the Signoria and the Podestà; now it is one of the most elegant palaces of that time. The Palazzo has a recognizable appearance with light natural stone and orange bricks. In the town hall there is a museum, the Museo Civico, where you can view paintings and frescoes. In room 1 you will find important works about Italian unification. In room 2 you will find frescoes about Pope Alexander. In the Hall of the Cardinal and the Hall of the Consistory you will find allegorical images. In the Antekapel you will find paintings of politicians, gods and philosophers. In the Room of the World Map you will find the famous Maesta by Simone Martini. In the Hall of Peace you can see the frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and in the Hall of the Pillars are paintings by Neroccio di Lando (museum website).

Palio Siena

5. Palio, the event in Siena

When you think of Siena, you think of horse races. This palio is celebrated every year in the summer (around July 2 to August 16) and takes place from 7 p.m. The festival itself dates back to Roman times, but the famous horse races associated with this event took place for the first time in 1283. The participating riders represent the ten of the seventeen districts, contrade, during this competition. After drawing lots, the racehorses are blessed and processions are held for this event. The matches themselves last only a minute and a half, but thousands of people gather in the Piazza to watch it. The winner will receive a silk palio, banner, and will be celebrated for weeks (website Palio).

Siena tourist attractions

6. Complesso Museale Santa Maria della Scala

What used to be a well-known civilian hospital that catered to abandoned children, the poor, the sick and pilgrims is now one of Siena's best-known museums. In the Santa Maria della Scala you will find great masterpieces such as the interior frescoes, which are represented there. The outside frescoes have unfortunately perished, but through careful documentation there is still enough information to be found. Well-known frescoes include: Birth of the Virgin by Lorenzetti and Betrothal of the Virgin by Martini. You will also find several altarpieces, such as Beccafumi's oil painting Trinity Triptych (Info and bookings).

Siena activities

7. Basilica Cateriniana di S. Domenico

The San Domenico is a large church made in the Gothic style. The construction of this religious building started in 1226 and was finished in the fifteenth century. The church was built by the Dominicans in honor of Saint Domenicus. Catherine of Siena was laid to rest here in 1380 in a chapel dedicated to her. Artist Sodorna also has several frescoes dedicated to Catherine. In the Cappella delle Volte you will find the only authentic portrait of the woman made by her friend Andrea Vanni.

Siena Italy

8. Casa di Santa Caterina

The aforementioned Catherine of Siena was the patron saint of the city. Catharina Benincase was the daughter of a merchant. From the age of just eight, she decided to devote her life to the Christian religion. She had many visions, which made her the source of inspiration for many artists. Catherine died in Rome and was canonized shortly after. Casa di Santa Catharina is the house where the devout lady grew up. It is characterized by cloisters and chapels. A church was built in the orchard in 1623 and her house is decorated with paintings about Catherine's life (website).

Siena

9. Pinactoteca Nazionale

Pinacoteca Nazionale is an interesting museum, which is located in a former Palazzo. The Palazzo Buonsignori houses a collection of artworks from the Sienese School. For example, you will find works by Duccio, Martini and Lorenzetti. The views of the latter painter are premature examples of landscape painting. Remarkable in these works, and especially in Domenico's work, is that Byzantine art continued to influence the Sienese School (Picture: Domenico di Bartolo, more info museum).

Siena Tuscany

10. Basilica di San Francesco

The church for San Francesco was also built in the thirteenth century. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the originally Romanesque facade was transformed into the larger Gothic facade that we see on the building today. The interior seems a bit austere, but this is because the church was subject to a great fire in 1655 and the restoration in the nineteenth century, during which many Baroque altars were destroyed. Still, some works of art have survived the ravages of time: the remains of two fourteenth-century tombs, two partially preserved frescoes, and further works of art such as works by Zucchi, Lorenzetti, Nasini, and Da Cortona.

Siena Italy

More sightseeing in Lucca

When visiting Siena, you should also visit the Fortezza Medicea, a fortress built especially for Cosimo de Medici. Today, the red-brick fortress houses a well-known Enoteca, where you can taste different wines from the region. If you are more into the Palazzos, then you can also visit Palazzo Piccolomini. This is Siena's most important private palazzo, built for the Piccolomini family. Now the palace houses important documents from Sienese history. Archives, richly decorated merchant's books and tax documents from the thirteenth century can be found here.

Popular activities in Siena (Italy)

Are you looking for a fully organized day trip from Florence or are you looking for a fun activity in Siena? Then take a look at the offer of the following tours and activities:

Best hotels in Siena

Siena city center hotels

If you are looking for a hotel in the old town, the Grand Hotel Continental Siena - Starhotels Collezione is the most stylish and luxurious 5-star hotel. The interior of the 17th century building has the appearance of staying overnight in a palace. A particularly stylish and artistically decorated hotel in the heart of the city center is the Palazzetto Rosso. Furthermore, Il Chiostro del Carmine is a beautifully restored 14th-century monastery with views over the countryside. If you are looking for a Bed & Breakfast, Casatorre dei Leoni Dimora Storica and the Fonte Gaia Experience are two top rated locations in the old city center of Siena. Hotel Athena is also very popular, partly because of its location on the edge of the city (ideal: you can park for free at this hotel) and the terrace with a fine view of the city.

Hotels Siena
Grand Hotel Continental Siena
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Best hotels Siena
Palazzetto Rosso
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Siena hotel
Il Chiostro Del Carmine
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Hotels Siena
Casatorre dei Leoni Dimora Storica
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Siena hotel
Hotel Athena
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Hotel Siena Italy
Fonte Gaia Experience
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Unique hotels in the area

There are also some very unique accommodations in the Siena area. From here you can easily make a day trip to visit the old city center. Certosa di Maggiano , for example, is located in an old monastery in a beautiful location in the Tuscan countryside, with a swimming pool and tennis court. Would you rather spend the night in a castle? The Castello delle Quattro Torra is a bed and breakfast just 2 kilometers outside the city walls with many authentic features and stunning views. Finally, at 6 kilometers from Siena, Ca' Bianca is a rustic B&B between olive trees with a swimming pool and lovely garden to relax in.

Hotels Siena
Certosa di Maggiano (2 km)
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Siena hotel
Castello delle Quattro Torra (2 km)
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Hotels Siena
Ca' Bianca (6 km)
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Where are the sights in Siena?

FAQ What to do in Siena - sights and attractions

What are the sights in Siena?

The main attraction is the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, or the Cathedral of Siena. In addition, the shell-shaped square Piazza del Campo is an important highlight, partly because of its central role in the palio horse races. On the square is the Palazzo Pubblico with the Museo Civico and adjacent the Torre del Mangia for magnificent views over the city. In this article you can read all about the Top 10 Siena attractions.

What are the sights in Tuscany?

In Tuscany you will find a number of beautiful cities with a medieval character such as Siena, San Gimignano and Lucca. In addition, the Tuscan capital Florence should not be missed with its beautiful Duomo and the Uffizi museum. Furthermore, the Tower of Pisa will appeal to the imagination of many tourists. More info about Tuscany and the Florence area.

What are the sights in Florence?

Major attractions are the Duomo or Florence Cathedral, and the Uffizi Museum. Other places of interest are the Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria square, Palazzo Pitti with the Boboli Gardens, the Medici Chapels, the Galleria dell'Accademia, Piazzale Michelangelo and the Basilica di Santa Croce. In this article you can read all about the Top 25 Florence sights.

Where is Siena located?

Siena is located in the Italian region of Tuscany and also the capital of the province of the same name. The city is located 78 kilometers south of Florence and 231 kilometers north of Rome.

Siena attractions
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