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Siena’s museums: re-discovering a city

Siena and its museums: a World Heritage

The glorious history of the city of Siena has left a huge artistic heritage to its inhabitants and to all humanity. More and more tourists choose to visit this Tuscan city to appreciate its landscapes and architecture. It is no coincidence that the historic center of Siena, one of a kind for the structure and the medieval urban style, has been included among the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. With the intention of offering a complete itinerary to witness the identity of the city in all its aspects, the Fondazione Musei Senesi has listed over forty museums containing masterpieces and historical artifacts to witness the presence of all the civilizations that have inhabited and traversed these lands. Stepping inside one of the many museums of Siena means entering a fascinating world of art, historical and archaeological relics, but also naturalistic, scientific and ethnographic elements.

The municipal and diocesan museums of Siena

A special relation exists between Siena and its municipal museums. For instance, the Palazzo Pubblico, one of the most famous and characteristic buildings in Siena, also known as Palazzo Comunale, overlooking Piazza del Campo, and also hosting the current city administration, is also the Civic Museum. The palace, built at the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries during the Republic of Siena’s era, is next to the Torre del Mangia and preserves in its halls important frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Simone Martini, Domenico Beccafumi and Duccio di Buoninsegna. The museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala, instead, is located in Piazza del Duomo, opposite to the cathedral. After being one of the oldest hospitals in Europe, and a free hospice for pilgrims, today the hotel is home to one of the most important museums of the city. Inside, located in a definitely suggestive environment, you can find archaeological finds of immense value, historical and artistic testimonies that describe Siena and its past in a sort of journey back to almost three thousand years! There are two diocesan museums: the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, and, of course, the Museo Diocesano, where you can admire the works of the master Duccio di Buoninsegna, Jacopo della Quercia, Donatello and the most important painters of Siena.

Not just art in Siena’s museums

In PiaIn Piazza del Duomo, in the aforementioned museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala, you will find the National Archaeological Museum which houses collections and artifacts from all over the province of Siena since the time of the Bronze Age. The Siena State Archives, instead, preserves documents of great importance concerning the history of the city: more than 60,000 parchments including the resolutions of the Republic, correspondence, legal and financial documents. Here you can find documents written by many of the characters mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy, as well as Boccaccio’s testament and manuscripts that tell the story of the city, and of the saints and heretics who have lived in it. It’s also worth mentioning, finally, besides the Historical Museum of the University of Siena, the Museum of the Society of Executors of Pious Dispositions and the Museum of the Accademia dei Fisiocritici, the curious National Museum of the Antarctica “Felice Ippolito” offering 900 maps of Antarctica, a photo collection of the areas of the continent, nearly 20,000 samples of rocks and fossils and an interesting collection of over a thousand meteorite stones.