Siena (also written as Sienna in Dutch) is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of the same name and has a population of 55.000.
Siena was an Etruscan settlement and a small Roman city. By the 5th century AD. ch. it became the seat of a Christian bishop, but it was not until the 12th century that it began to become a city of importance, when an autonomous commune replaced the earlier aristocratic government.
Struggling internally between the nobility and the popular party, the Republic of Siena tended to work in political opposition to its great rival, Florence, and was mainly Ghibelline in the 13th century, unlike the Guelp position of Florence, which formed the backdrop to Dante's Divina Comedy.
The University of Siena, renowned for its faculties of law and medicine, was founded in 1203. During the Middle Ages, Siena was also a rival to Florence in the arts.
Siena was badly battered by the Black Death (the plague) of 1348 and never regained its former glory, partly because it couldn't handle the rivalry with Florence. Until 1557, Siena retained autonomy within Tuscany.
Siena's university is still one of the most important universities in Italy and the picturesque city remains an important cultural center, especially for the humanities.
Siena's cathedral, whose construction began in the 12th century, is one of the great examples of Italian Gothic architecture. Its main facade was completed in 1380. The bell tower and its baptismal font form a beautiful whole.
The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, the town square, is another architectural treasure and is known for hosting the Palio. The Palio delle contrade is a horse race that takes place twice a year. The Palio is so important that an Italian proverb even goes: 'Chi dice Siena, dice Palio.', 'Who says Siena, says Palio', which is used when two things are so inextricably linked that one cannot be missed. without mentioning the other.