Our network: Guides | Hotels
Tuesday 28 May 2024
Italiano English
Sapori Tipici Toscani
Sapori Tipici Toscani
Sapori Tipici Toscani
Sapori Tipici Toscani

Palazzo Piccolomini and Palazzo delle Papesse

Email this page | Printable
On Via Banchi di Sotto, opposite the former Jesuit convent that today houses the University of Siena, stands the magnificent Palazzo Piccolomini, undisputedly Siena’s finest Renaissance construction, erected by Giacomo and Andrea Piccolomini Todeschini – nephews of Pope Pius II. This building was once the town house of this noble dynasty, which grew to considerable power and influence from the 12th century when they began to act as bankers to the Papal Court in Rome. The original project of the building was probably a joint effort by Bernardo Rossellino, the favourite architect of Pope Pius II, and Enea Silvio Piccolomini. The works, which started in 1469, were supervised by Pier Paolo del Porrina. The elegant and proportioned facade of the palazzo is in stone on three floors, decorated with two coats of arms of the Piccolomini family as well as by bifore and guelph cross windows, surmounted by a cornice. The capitols of the columns that line the interior courtyard are without doubt by Marrina, who completed them between 1509 and 1510.
The opulent design of the building is reminiscent of both Palazzo Ruccelai, designed by Leon Battista Alberti, and the Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza, designed also by Rossellino. When the Piccolomini line finished, towards the end of the 17th century, the Consorteria Piccolomini decided to rent the palazzo to the Collegio Tolomei (founded by Celso Tolomei in 1629 as an institution for educating young nobles), which continued to occupy the building until the beginning of the 19th century. When the Collegio moved to other premises, in 1824 the palazzo was granted to the Scrittoio delle Regie Fabbriche and was occupied by government offices. Since 1858 the building has housed the Archivio di Stato state archives, which contain a conspicuous collection of artistic and literary documents, including the so-called ‘Galleria delle 103 Tavolette Dipinte’ the covers of the Biccherna e Gabella accounts books of the city of Siena from the 13th to the 18th century. The palazzo has undergone a number of refurbishments over the last century, including an enlargement to cater for the growing needs of the Archivio. Currently the building contains 108 offices, laboratories and deposits.

No far from Piazza del Campo, along the prestigious Via di Città, stands the Palazzo Piccolomini known also as Palazzo delle Papesse. This palazzo was built by order of Caterina Piccolomini, sister of Pope Pius II, between 1460 and 1495, to designs by Bernardo Rossellino. In typical Florentine Renaissance style, the palazzo is on three floors, with the ground floor sheathed in studded stone and bifore windows opening up on the floors above. In 1884 the palazzo was acquired by the Bank of Italy and has since undergone a number of refurbishments, including the decoration of some first floor rooms with neo-Renaissance frescoes. A terrace on the second floor offers a fine view of the so-called facciatone, the facade of the Duomo, while the whole of the city can be observed from the covered roof terrace on the summit of the palazzo.
Following a meticulous restoration, in November 1998 the palazzo was reopened to the public as a contemporary arts centre, financed by the Siena town council together with private sponsors. The centre’s intense programme of exhibitions, teaching courses and other activities aims to promote contemporary art. The centre is divided into three areas: the exhibition area, the Bookshop on the ground floor (designed by the artist Luca Pancrazi), and the former strong room of the Bank of Italy, built originally in 1952 and which today acts as a temporary exhibitions space.


  General information
Town map 
Siena in the Renaissance 
Siena in the Middle Ages 
Siena in Antiquity 

  Transport in town
Map of Hotels in Siena 
Town Map Siena 

  Transport out of town
Train services 

  Where to Stay
Farm Holidays and Country Houses  
Residence, Apartments 
Bed & Breakfasts 
Historical Residences 

Reservation Services Siena 
Last Minute Siena 

  Where to eat and drink
Disco Dancing 
Pubs & Wine Bar 

Siena University 
University for Foreigners 

  Art and monuments
Palazzo Piccolomini and Palazzo delle Papesse 
Palazzo Chigi-Saracini 
Palazzo d’Elci degli Alessi 
Loggia della Mercanzia 
Palazzo Sansedoni 
Palazzo Chigi-Zondadari 
Fonte Gaia fountain 
Carthusian Monastery of Pontignano  
Forte di Santa Barbara 

  Art and religion
Church of Sant’Agostino 
The Duomo – The Cathedral of the Assunta 
Church of the Osservanza  
The Oratory of San Bernardino 
Church of San Francesco 
Short Biography of St Catherine of Siena  
St Catherine Sanctuary 
Church of S. Niccolò al Carmine 

  Museums and galleries
The Museo Civico 
Bologna-Buonsignori museum 
Accademia dei Fisiocritici 
I Musei Senesi 

  Art and tourist attractions
Cappella di Piazza 
The Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia 
Piazza del Campo 
The Montagnola Senese and the Fortified Village of Sovicille 
The Castles of Belcaro and Quattro Torri 


  The Palio of Siena
The Origins 
The July and August Palio 
The Contrade 
The Days of the Palio 
The Drappellone 
The Eve of the Palio 
The Corteo Storico Procession 
The Race 
The Patron Saint and Oratory of Each Contrada 
Weekly Appointments in each Contrada from April onwards 

Via di Città (formerly Via Galgaria), Siena’s Most Elegant Street 
Croce del Travaglio Place 
From Piazza del Campo to the Duomo Along Via di Città 
The Curves of Piazza del Campo 
Costarella dei Barbieri street 
Borgo d’Ovile 
The Terzo of Camollia – main streets 
Casato di Sopra e Casato di Sotto 
Terzo di San Martino district  
The Terzo di Città District - Via Stalloreggi, Via San Quirico 
The Terzo di Città District – The Pinacoteca Nazionale 

  What to see & do
Wedding in Siena 
Golf courses in Siena and Tuscany 
Wedding in Tuscany - Siena area 
San Casciano dei Bagni 
Chianciano Terme 
Bagni San Filippo 
Bagno Vignoni 
Rapolano Terme - Baths of San Giovanni and Baths of the Antica Querciolaia 
The Countryside around Siena and its Thermal Water Springs 

  Monte Amiata
Monte Amiata - nature tourism the year round 
SkiPass Monte Amiata 
WebCam sul Monte Amiata 
Meteo Monte Amiata 

  Specials - Out of town
Gift Ideas for traveling 
The Val d’Orcia and Its Main Towns 
Pienza - the old town centre 
Montepulciano - the old town centre 
San Quirico d’Orcia - the old town centre 
Montalcino and the Land of Brunello 
The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and the Crete 
The Crete Senesi 
Castellina in Chianti and the Via Chiantigiana Towards Siena 
Siena and Southern Chianti - from the Castle of Montalto to the Castle of Brolio and on to the Castle of Meleto 
The Chianti Hills - Monte Calvo, Monte Luco and Monte San Michele 
Cortona and the Valdichiana 
San Gimignano - The old town centre and its major sights 
The Val d’Elsa - Monteriggioni and Colle di Val d’Elsa 
Along the Old Via Francigena 

  Typical products
Typical Tuscan flavours 
Oleum Evo online selling 
Sapori Tipici Italiani buy online now 
il Prosciutto Cotto