Palazzo Pubblico (The Town Hall)
Finished at the beginning of the 1300s, to house the Government of the Nine, the Palazzo Comunale or Palazzo Pubblico (the Town Hall) of Siena sits on the Piazza del Campo. It has an elegant plain façade with little decoration, and expands horizontally. On this façade, one distinctive feature stands out – the white strip of clear marble on the ground floor.
The architectural rhythm on the façade is created by the consistent alternating of big trifore (three-arched) and bifora (two-arched) windows, and also by the delicate design of the architectural frames that refine the appearance of the building.
Recurring on the tympana of the doors and windows is the black and white coat-of-arms of the Town Council of Siena, the so-called 'Balzana'.
It comes directly from the ancient legend to which Siena attributes its origins: while fleeing from Romolo, the mythical sons of Remo, Aschio and Senio - after whom the city is named - arrived on the hill where Siena was founded, on 2 horses, one black and one white.
Beside the Palace soars the slender figure of the Torre del Mangia, 102 metres high. Climbing the 332 steps you can admire the exceptional panorama of the urban fabric of the city, one of the most uniform and best conserved in Italy.
A panorama that , however, in the 1300s, would have been very different: a jungle of high towers – it is said that one could count more than 100 of them in the city – that noble families competed against each other to build, and that gave Siena that particular vertical tension, still visible today, even if to a lesser extent, in other smaller centres, like San Gimignano. Broken off following fights between families, the rest of the towers were demolished by the Spanish to be utilised as construction material.
Today, the Campo only partially conserves that which is the original architectural uniformity, dictated by the Palazzo Pubblico: all doors and windows of buildings had to incorporate the Sienese arch – a lowered arch surmounted by a pointed arch - the main windows had to be trifora (three-arched) or bifora (two-arched).
Close to the entrance portal of the Palace you find the other symbol of Siena, the wolf with the two Roman twins, in gilded bronze. The work of Giovanni and Lorenzo di Turino, in 1430, is today kept inside the Palace.