July 9, 2014

1030, 1134 ITALY (Tuscany) - Historic Centre of Siena (UNESCO WHS)

Posted on 12.03.2014, 09.07.2014
Settled for the first time by Etruscans (c. 900-400 BC), Siena was founded, according to legend, by Senius, son of Remus. Anyway, it didn't prospered under Roman rule, because it wasn't sited near any major roads. After the Lombard occupation, the situation was changed, and the city developed as a trading post. Conquered by Charlemagne in 774, the city became republic in 12th century, which existed for over 400 years. In the Italian War of 1551-1559, the republic was defeated by the rival Duchy of Florence in alliance with the Spanish crown, and that ceded it to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, to which it belonged until the unification of Italy in the 19th century. In 1995, its historic centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, because "the whole city of Siena, built around the Piazza del Campo, was devised as a work of art that blends into the surrounding landscape."

The Siena Cathedral, dedicated on its earliest days as a Roman Catholic Marian church, and now dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta (Holy Mary, Our Lady of the Assumption), begun in the 12th century, and is one of the great examples of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Its main façade was completed in 1380. After the completion of the transept and the building of the east wall the money ran out and the rest of the cathedral was abandoned. In the interior the pictorial effect of the black and white marble stripes on the walls and columns strikes the eye. Black and white are the colours of the civic coat of arms of Siena. The capitals of the columns in the west bays of the nave are sculpted with allegorical busts and animals. The horizontal moulding around the nave and the presbytery contains 172 plaster busts of popes dating from the 15th and 16th centuries starting with St. Peter and ending with Lucius III. The spandrels of the round arches below this cornice exhibit the busts of 36 emperors.

The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, the town square, which houses the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia, is another architectural treasure, and is famous for hosting the Palio horse race. The Palazzo Pubblico, itself a great work of architecture, houses yet another important art museum. Its construction began in 1297 and its original purpose was to house the republican government, consisting of the Podestà and Council of Nine. The outside of the structure is an example of Italian medieval architecture with Gothic influences. The campanile or bell tower, Torre del Mangia, was built between 1325 and 1344 with its crown designed by the painter, Lippo Memmi. The tower was designed to be taller than the tower in neighboring rival Florence; at the time it was the tallest structure in Italy.

About the stamps
On the first postcard
The first postcard, depicting Mario Calderara, is part of the series Italian Pioneers of Aviation, about which I wrote here. The second, depicting a woman portrait by Filippino Lippi (0.23 EUR), is part of a definitive set named Donna nell'arte (Women in Art), about which I wrote here.

On the second postcard
The stamp belongs to a series of definitive stamps, about which I wrote here.

Siena - Wikipedia
Siena Cathedral - Wikipedia
Historic Centre of Siena -UNESCO official website

sender: Marius Vasilescu
sent from Siena (Tuscany / Italy) on 17.04.2012
sender: Ana
sent from Siena (Tuscany / Italy) on 31.05.2014

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