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SIENA Art and monuments - Forte di Santa Barbara


The Giardini della Lizza gardens, laid out in the 19th century over an area previously used by the cavalry for exercises, leads to the Forte di Santa Barbara, known also as the Fortezza Medicea. This fortress was built to a design by Baldassarre Lanci in 1560 by order of Cosimo I de’ Medici, with an aim to securing the city and quashing any possible hopes the Senese might have of attempting to regain their independence.

Imposing in structure, the fortress stands over the area previously occupied by the fortress built by Charles V and which the Senese had razed to the ground in 1552. Initially the fortress had an L-shaped design but this was later modified to the current square structure by Baldassarre Lanci, an engineer from Urbino, who also planned the deep angular bastions.

The fortress was demilitarised towards the end of the 18th century and converted into a public garden in 1937, from which it is possible to enjoy a magnificent view of the city and the surrounding countryside. Exhibitions are often organised in the building today and the underground passages house the Enoteca Italiana, where visitors can come and taste some of the finest wines produced in Italy.

The Siena Jazz Association, founded on September 9th 1977, is also housed here, in 20 teaching rooms, a sound archive and a library. The association runs training courses and music workshops.




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