Piazza del Campo in Siena
Prenota il Sangallo Park Hotel e scopri il centro storico di Siena
The land on which the Piazza del Campo is located, was bought by the community of Siena in 1169, to be used for public fairs, markets and public celebrations. It was during the government of the Nine that the destination was changed and it became the natural integration of the Palazzo Pubblico. The square, semi-circular and shaped like a shell, transformed into a masterpiece of harmony and elegance, following the natural anomaly of the ground. The paving (1327-1349) was made with special building blocks, inserted vertically, "a coltello". It was divided into nine sectors (nine as the number of The Nine, the rulers of that time), bordered by strips of white stone, which converged towards the Palazzo Pubblico, dominated by the Torre del Mangia. The buildings surrounding it were erected according to regulations requiring compliance with specific aesthetics (even a church, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, had to be demolished, because it hang over the edge of the surrounding buildings). The square has been witness to all the historical events of the city of Siena: it has hosted the gatherings of the population and it has been the stage of countless festivals and tournaments, from the ancient games of the Elmora and of the Pugna to the races of buffaloes. The Palio of Siena takes place here, on July 2nd and August 16th, every year.
The Chapel in the Square
This marble tabernacle at the foot of the Torre del Mangia was built in 1352 to thank the Virgin Mary for having protected Siena from the Black Death (the plague). The terrible epidemic struck Siena in 1348 and reduced its population to less than 16,000. Above the altar, Sodoma painted the Madonna with the Son and God the Father (1537-39). The remains of the frescos are preserved today in the Civic Museum in the Palazzo Pubblico. The sculptor Antonio Federighi, commissioned by the City of Siena, in 1468 replaced the simple roof with Renaissance arches.
The water arrived in Piazza del Campo in 1342, after eight years of work. To nourish the fountain, a massive hydraulic work had been made, consisting of a long tunnel about twenty miles long. Siena named it "Fonte Gaia" because of the greatest enthusiasm with which the population celebrated its construction. The first fountain made of marble was built in 1343. It became the queen of the Sienese fountains when, between 1414 and 1419, it was rebuilt by the great sculptor Jacopo della Quercia, commissioned by the City of Siena. The artwork is considered among the greatest expressions of the Italian sculpture of the fifteenth century. Inspired by the structure of the public fountains of medieval Siena, Jacopo gave to Fonte Gaia the form of a great marble altar, consisting of a rectangular basin surrounded on three parts by a high parapet. Currently in Piazza del Campo there is a copy made by Tito Sarrocchi: in the mid-nineteenth century it replaced the original fountain, ruined by the time. The original sculpture is located in the Museum of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena.