The Tuscan hill-city of Siena retains its medieval character. Narrow streets populated
with ancient tower houses and medieval palazzos wind throughout the city, the center of
which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for the breakneck horse race known as
the Palio, run around Piazza del Campo bi-annually. Over 50 images of street scenes,
palazzos and piazzas of the south and central contrades of Siena are shown below.

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Images in this section are in three different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Siena Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links to the three Galleries in the Photoshelter Siena Collection:

Siena Scenery
Siena Cathedral Exterior
Siena Cathedral Interior


Siena Porta San Marco 5983
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The 13th century Porta San Marco (St. Mark’s Gate) in the ancient city walls protecting the southwest entrance to Siena.


Medieval Doorway Via di San Marco 5987
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Medieval warehouses and workshops line Via di San Marco in Siena’s Contrade of the Snail (Contrada Chiocciola).


Chiesa della Chiocciola 6377
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The contrades of Siena (districts or wards) were originally set up in the Middle Ages to provide troops for the military which defended Siena from Florence and other Tuscan city-states. There were originally 59 contrades, now consolidated into the 17 current districts. Having lost the administrative and military functions, the contrades are now primarily neighborhoods with extreme emotional and patriotic importance to the Sienese, as each is represented in the Palio, the bi-annual horse race run around the Piazza del Campo. This no-holds-barred bareback race on mixed-breed horses (no thoroughbreds allowed) runs for three laps around the Piazza, which is covered with dirt. Often, the riders are thrown off in the corners (which are protected with crash-barriers), and it is common for horses to finish the race without their riders. The winner is the first horse across the finish line, with or without its rider. Chiocciola is the second most successful of the contrades in the Palio with 51 wins.

A block further up Via di San Marco is Our Lady of the Rosary (Chiesa della Chiocciola, or The Church of the Snail). Located at the Bivio (crossroads) at the junction of Via della Diana and Via di San Marco, it was built into an existing building in 1656. It operated as the Oratory of Chiocciola until 1813, at which time the Oratory was moved to the church attached to the former Monastery of the Nuns of St. Paul further up the street.

After the Palio win in July, 1722, the deteriorating facade and roof of the church were rebuilt, and the fresco of the Madonna on the facade was redesigned and painted, resulting in the facade which can be seen today.

The church operated as Casa del Cavallo (the House of the Horse) for the Palio of 1962. The yellow sign seen over the entrance commemorates this event.


Madonna del Forcone 6373c
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Detail of the niche fresco of Chiesa della Chiocciola.
Known as Madonna del Forcone (Madonna of the Fork),
it replaced the original image on the front of the church, a
1323 painting by Jacopo del Pellicciaro. The 1723 fresco
was by Francesco Feliciati (design by Pietro Montini).


Chiesa della Chiocciola 6375
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In front of the church is the Well (pozzo) of San Marco (1522). This public well is fed from the Bottini, the ancient system of elaborate underground galleries carrying water into Siena. There were separate systems carrying drinking water, water for animals, and water to wash clothes.


Baptismal Fountain Chiocciola Oratory 5990
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Each of the contrades has its own baptismal font. This was the first of the modern Contrada fonts installed (1947). The inscription on the base reads “When Victory Smiles on the Snail, Good Wine will Flow from this Fountain”. Victory in the Palio is very important to the Contrades of Siena.


Medieval Siena Via di Stalloreggi 5998
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Ancient tower houses in Via di Stalloreggi. Located in the Terzo di Citta district, which was the area where the original settlers of Siena lived, in the 14th c. this was the most densely populated and wealthy area of Siena. Around the curve is the Arco dell due Porte, an archway built into the 11th c. walls.


Medieval Courtyard Via di San Marco 5989
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Shuttered windows and a wall shrine adorn this small courtyard off Via di San Marco.


Alle Due Porte Via di Stalloreggi 5992
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Two of the ornate studded doors on Via di Stalloreggi.
This house is now the Alle due Porte Bed and Breakfast.


Isletia Via di Stalloreggi 5995
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Many of the ancient tower houses in Via di Stalloreggi
are now B&Bs and hotels. This is Isletia at number 35.


Lupa Giuliano Vangi Piazza di Postierla 6067
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The Lupa (She-Wolf) is a symbol of Siena. There are statues of the Lupa with Romulus and Remus all over the city. This is a modern version in Piazza di Postierla by Giuliano Vangi.


She-Wolf of Siena 6211
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Medieval mosaic of the Lupa Senese (She-Wolf of Siena) on the floor of the Cathedral of Siena (the second-oldest floor mosaic in the cathedral, laid in 1373).


Lupa Giuliano Vangi Piazza di Postierla 6069
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The Lupa Senese atop the column in Piazza di Postierla, by Giuliano Vangi.

Piazza di Postierla is a small square also known as Quattro Cantoni, with four streets
leading into it, in the Terzo di Citta district. It is at this junction where Via di Stalloreggi
becomes Via di Citta, the street leading into Piazza del Campo where many of Siena’s
most wealthy families built their Palazzos (such as the Piccolomini and Chigi families).


Medieval Dragon Rein Ring 6072
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Medieval Rein Ring outside of an ancient building in
Piazza di Postierla (on Via di Citta at Via di San Pietro).
Decorative rein rings like this are everywhere in Siena.


Monumento della Lupa Siena Cathedral 6207
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The Monumento della Lupa stands on the west corner of the foundation plinth of the Cathedral, opposite the column which supports the Lupa allegedly brought to Siena by the founders.


Images in this section are in three different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Siena Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links to the three Galleries in the Photoshelter Siena Collection:

Siena Scenery
Siena Cathedral Exterior
Siena Cathedral Interior


Siena Grocer Antica Bottega Via di Citta 6074
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Antica Bottega Di Massimo Marchetti e Khalimova Galina is an old stone
fruit and vegetable shop located just beyond Piazza di Postierla on Via di Citta.
This attractive spot of color is just before the dark scene shown in the image below.


Palazzo Chigi Via di Citta 6078
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Palazzo Piccolomini (on the left), with the battlemented tower of Palazzo Chigi-Saracini in the background on Via di Citta. Narrow, heavily shaded medieval streets are typical in Siena.

Located on Via di Citta, Siena’s main street connecting the Piazza del Campo with the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral), Palazzo Chigi-Saracini was originally built in the 12th c. for the Marescotti family, a powerful Ghibelline family (supporters of the Holy Roman Emperor), who were important members of the aristocracy. The original stone tower is still a part of the building. Before the Palazzo Pubblico was built, meetings of the Council of Governors of the Republic were held there. In 1506 it was bought by the Piccolomini-Mandoli family.

The Piccolomini family was a powerful Guelph family in the 14th c. (supporters of the Papacy), and a very strong trading family from  the 12th century. Conflicts between Guelph and Ghibelline tore apart Siena and Florence in the Middle Ages.

Palazzo Piccolomini (aka Palazzo delle Papesse, so called because it was owned by the sister of the Piccolomini Pope Pius II) is one of two Piccolomini palaces in Siena (the other palazzo is on the opposite side of the Piazza del Campo about 1/4 mile away). Built by Caterina Piccolomini between 1460 and 1495, Palazzo delle Papesse was designed in Florentine Renaissance style with the rustication (studded stonework lower facade) typical of many Florentine palazzos.

In 1770, Palazzo Chigi-Saracini was bought by the Saracini family, enlarged, and curved to follow the line of the street. They also acquired 12,000 pieces of art and furniture over the next 100 years, and in the early 1800s opened part of the palazzo as a museum to exhibit some of their art.

In 1877 after the death of the last Saracini family member, the palazzo passed on to the Chigi family, descendents of the Sienese (or Senese) banking family, the most prominent member of whom was the fabulously wealthy Agostino Chigi, banker to Pope Julius II. Another famous Chigi was Fabio, who became Pope Alexander VII in 1655. The Chigi family was very prominent in the 17th through 19th centuries in the Church, and remains extremely powerful in Italy today. Their palace in Rome is the current seat of the Italian Government.


Pizzicheria de Miccoli Bicycle 6080
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Pizzicheria de Miccoli is next to Palazzo Chigi-Saracini on Via di Citta. This antique family-run delicatessen offers wines, cheese, meats and other deli fare, and makes spectacular sandwiches. It is very popular with Sienese (Senese) locals.


Pizzicheria de Miccoli Via di Citta 6082
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The nearsighted boar over the doorway (wearing glasses) and the unique bamboo bicycle along with the colorful window displays create a striking contrast with the brick and the dark stone of the rusticated palazzo facades around it.


Julius III Palazzo Chigi-Saracini 6112
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 The statue of Pope Julius III, last of the High Renaissance
Popes (1550-55). The statue by Fulvio Signorini (1609)
stands in the entrance tunnel to Palazzo Chigi-Saracini.


Julius III Palazzo Chigi-Saracini 6086
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Julius III narrowly survived the Sack of Rome in 1527.


Julius III Palazzo Chigi-Saracini 6114
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A capable statesman and diplomat, he was elected as the Pope when the conclave became deadlocked between rival French and German factions and the Cardinals loyal to the Holy Roman Emperor. Early in his papacy, Julius attempted to institute reform, but he soon retired to a life of luxury in his villa.


Julius III Palazzo Chigi-Saracini 6119
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Julius III’s Papacy was soon scandalized by his nepotism, indulgence and favoritism towards a young beggar-boy whom he made Cardinal-Nephew (a high position in the Church) and gave appointments making his income one of the highest in Europe. The ensuing scandal changed Papal policy forever.


Palazzo Chigi-Saracini Entrance Vault 6101
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The frescoed vault over the entrance tunnel at the courtyard of Palazzo Chigi-Saracini. When the Piccolomini family bought the Palazzo in 1506, they refurbished it in Renaissance style.


Palazzo Chigi-Saracini Entrance Vault 6099
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Originally built by the Marescotti family in the 12th century, the refurbishment in the new Renaissance style included this ornate vault with nature scenes, figures of animals and human heads, and stylized images, some of which used the newly rediscovered style of the Grotesque brought from Rome.


Palazzo Chigi-Saracini Entrance Vault 6096 M
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The style was used in Raphael’s cartoons for the vaults of the Piccolomini Library in Siena Cathedral a few years before this vault was created. Raphael also used the Grotesque style for the decoration of the Vatican Palace in Rome (the Stanze). These decorations predated the Grotesque vaults and Cortile at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.


Palazzo Chigi-Saracini Courtyard 6090
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The interior of the inner courtyard of Palazzo Chigi-Saracini.


Palazzo Chigi-Saracini Courtyard 6091
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False machicolations atop the courtyard walls resemble those used in castles to drop stones and hot liquid on attackers.


Palazzo Chigi-Saracini Courtyard 6094
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This is an example of an early use of false machicolations for decorative effect (they were common in 19th c. buildings).


Palazzo Chigi-Saracini Courtyard 6104

The Renaissance-era inner courtyard of Palazzo Chigi-Saracini in Siena.


Images in this section are in three different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Siena Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links to the three Galleries in the Photoshelter Siena Collection:

Siena Scenery
Siena Cathedral Exterior
Siena Cathedral Interior


Piazza del Campo Lantern 6128
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An antique spiked lantern with a mythical animal
figurehead and rein ring in the Piazza del Campo.


Piazza del Campo Rein Ring 6170
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A medieval rein ring in Piazza del Campo. Ornate
rein rings are still mounted on buildings all over Siena.


Piazza del Campo Gothic Houses & Lantern 6139
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13th-14th century Late Gothic houses line the perimeter of the Piazza del Campo (town square). The Palazzi Signorli house aristocratic families of Siena, and were built with equal-height rooflines to show unity, unlike the earlier tower-houses.


Piazza del Campo Archway Bridge 6163
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One of 11 narrow medieval streets leading into the Piazza, with a bridge between the Late Gothic houses spanning the gap. The uniformity of the palazzo bricks was dictated by the commune, which had a monopoly on brick-making in Siena.


Piazza del Campo Gothic Houses and Lantern 6141

Late Gothic houses (Palazzi Signorli, 13th-14th c.) and an ornate spiked lantern with a mythical animal
figurehead and rein ring at the perimeter of the Piazza del Campo (or “il Campo” as the Sienese call it).


Piazza del Campo Restaurants 6165

The piazza was built at the end of the 13th century in an area between three hillside communities which was used for fairs, markets and public celebrations. The ground level of the Late Gothic Palazzi Signorli around the perimeter of the sloping, shell-shaped medieval square house restaurants with terrace seating and awnings to provide shade. The piazza is still the main square and the focus of city life in Siena, and it is the site of the medieval Palazzo Pubblico with its famous Torre del Mangia (Tower of the Eater), which gets its name from the first bell-ringer, Giovanni di Balduccio (Duccio), who had the unfortunate nickname of Mangiaguadagni as he had a habit of spending all of his money on food.

At right is the lunette over the entrance to Palazzo Pubblico, with a blatantly rampant lion and two emaciated Lupa Senese nursing Romulus and Remus and a flock of wayward pigeons.


Lion Rampant Lupa Palazzo Pubblico 6155
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Palazzo Pubblico portal lunette, by Agostino di Giovanni.


Palazzo Pubblico Torre del Mangia 6136
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The Palazzo Pubblico (town hall) was begun in 1297 to house the Podesta and the Council of Nine (the government of the Republica of Siena). The Council of the Nine, once elected, were confined to the building permanently during their office and were only allowed to leave on feast days.


Palazzo Pubblico Torre del Mangia 6145
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The piazza was paved (1327-1349) with special knife-shaped bricks in nine wedges separated with white stone to represent the Council of the Nine. The lower story of Palazzo Pubblico is stone with Sienese arched windows. The upper, crennelated stories are of brick and feature mullioned Gothic windows.


Torre del Mangia 6136c
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The tower crown of Torre del Mangia (Tower of the Eater), designed by the painter Lippo Memmi, was completed in 1348 by Agostino di Giovanni just before the onset of the Black Death (the bubonic plague, which killed 80% of the population of Siena in 1348). The tower itself was designed by Francesco and Muccio di Rinaldo, artists from Arezzo, and constructed by Agostino di Giovanni. It was built to be the same height as the Cathedral of Siena, to make the point that the Church and State had equal power. The tower was also built to be taller than that of the Palazzo Vecchio in Siena’s rival Florence, which was at the time the tallest tower in Italy.

Below the first level of battlements, called Guelphic merlons because of their square shape (as opposed to swallow-tail shaped Ghibelline merlons, such as those which were used on Arnolfo di Cambio’s tower for Palazzo Vecchio, Florence), are machicolations, which are openings through which stones, boiling oil or water could be dropped on attackers. The corners of the tower at the level of the machicolations have buttressed gargoyles mounted. There are another set of gargoyles below the false machicolations on the uppermost central tower.

The Bell (called Sunto by the Sienese) is the third mounted. The original (1348) was replaced by a bell which failed in 1634. The bell was built in 1666, and weighs 6.76 tons. Due to its bulk it was installed above the tower. The bell is rung manually only on the day of the Palio, and its distinctive sound varies depending upon where the bell is struck.


Palazzo Pubblico Torre del Mangia 6161
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A view down the concave facade of the Palazzo Pubblico. On the tower is the clock, added in 1360 by Bartolomeo Guidi. It was painted in 1428, then in 1776 was clad in stone and decorated with a fresco. When the clock was restored in the early 20th c., the stone and fresco were removed. To the right of the clock are the mullioned Sienese trifore (three-arched) Gothic windows, with the arches supported by two columns and the Sienese crest above the arches. The trifore are on the two lower brick levels.

Below is a detail crop of the central trifore with the Medici Ducal crest (installed in 1560). In the pointed arch above the trifore (three-arched) Gothic windows is the Balzana (the black and white heraldic shield symbol of Siena).


Palazzo Pubblico Torre del Mangia 6157 M
1000 x 1600 (398 KB)

An M-sized crop of the battlemented upper section of Palazzo Pubblico and Torre del Mangia. The stone and copper disc in the center of the tower is the Trigramma di Cristo, or St. Bernardino’s monogram, created in 1425 by Battista di Niccolo and Turino di Sano to commemorate the fact that St. Bernardino of Siena used to preach in Piazza del Campo.


The central tower was part of the original 14th century construction. The side wings, which were raised to their current level in the 17th century by Carlo Fontana’s design to balance the coherence of the facade, are an early example of the Neo-Gothic style. The upper story of the central tower has round-headed lancet windows. The construction period of this upper section is controversial, either in 1304-08 or in 1326.

The holes visible in the brick are Buca pontaia, used to mount the wooden poles used to support construction scaffolds. These scaffolding holes were common in Late Gothic and Renaissance-period construction, and were sometimes filled.


Palazzo Pubblico Cappella di Piazza 6134c
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Detail of the Palazzo Pubblico, showing the stone lower structure with Sienese arched windows,
the brick battlemented upper sections with mullioned Sienese trifore (three-arched) Gothic windows
(with the arches supported by two columns) and the Sienese Balzana crest above the window arches.
On the Torre del Mangia at left is the one-handed stone clock of Bartolomeo Guidi, and on the upper
tower of the Palazzo is the stone and copper Trigramma di Cristo, or St. Bernardino’s monogram.

At the far left below Torre del Mangia is Cappella di Piazza. Built in 1352 as the fulfillment of a vow
to the Virgin Mary by survivors of the Black Death, which reduced the population of Siena to 16,000 in
1348, the Chapel is the only structure which protrudes into the Piazza del Campo. The marble pillars
were rebuilt several times and were finally completed in their present form in 1376, with only six of
the statues of Apostles having been completed to fill the 12 niches in the pillars and pilasters.
The roof (originally wood) was replaced by a marble vault in 1461-68 by Antonio Federighi.
 At the base is a 14th c. wrought iron railing (Conte di Iello Orlandi and Pietruccio Betto).
Marble panels line the chapel balustrade, built by Giacomo Cozzarelli in 1470 and
representing Arithmetic and Geometry. The originals are on the Palazzo stairs.


Cappella di Piazza di Tomme Apostles 6146
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Apostles in the pillars of the Capella di Piazza. The crudely finished Gothic sculptures were created between 1378-1382 by Mariano d’Angelo Romanelli and Bartolomeo di Tomme.


Cappella di Piazza di Tomme Apostles 6151
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The best of the sculptures is St. Bartholomew (6151 left), which was the only one created by Bartolomeo di Tomme. The others were created by Mariano d’Angelo Romanelli.


Palazzo del Vescovo Siena 6365
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On Via Piano dei Mantellini just north of Via della Diana
stands the 14th century church of San Niccolo al Carmine
and the Bishops Palace (Palazzo del Vescovo), later called
Palazzo Celsi-Pollini, built in 1527 by Baldassare Peruzzi.


San Niccolo al Carmine 6366
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The Bell Tower of San Niccolo al Carmine is the border of Contrada Chiocciola (Contrade of the Snail). The Contrade boundaries are very important in Siena. The square Carmelite bell tower built in four orders dates from the 14th century.

Baldassare Peruzzi worked in Rome for Bramante, Raphael, and Sangallo
during the construction of the new Saint Peter’s Basilica. Returning to Siena
after the sack of Rome in 1527, he was employed as Architect to the Republic,
building fortifications for the city and designing the dam on the Bruna River. He was
the painter of a number of frescoes in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist in the Cathedral,
and is possibly most famous as the designer of Villa Chigi (now called Villa Farnesina) in
Rome. Especially notable in Villa Chigi is the Salon of Perspective, painted by Peruzzi,
which (when seen from the left side of the room) gives the illusion of standing on an
open-air terrace lined by pillars, looking out over a continuous landscape.


San Niccolo al Carmine 6363
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Begun in the middle of the 13th century and largely completed by the 14th century, the
single-nave 14th century interior is intact. The Rose Window is in the gable directly over
the portal (lower right), which is decorated with a Baroque pediment created by Peruzzi.
The nave is lit by large single Gothic windows. Also known as Santa Maria del Carmine.


Tuscan Countryside at Dusk 6379 6384
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A view of the Tuscan countryside east of Siena at dusk, from just outside the Porta San Marco.


A detail crop of the Monumento della Lupa at the west corner of Siena Cathedral.

Use the navigation buttons below or the display composite linking to the Siena Index page
to visit the pages detailing the exterior and interior of the Siena Cathedral, Santa Maria Assunta.


Images in this section are in three different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Siena Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links to the three Galleries in the Photoshelter Siena Collection:

Siena Scenery
Siena Cathedral Exterior
Siena Cathedral Interior


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