San Gimignano, perched on top of a hill in the beautiful province of Siena, is famous and renowned all over the world mainly for its charming medieval towers, that make its cityscape absolutely unique and unmistakable.
These impressive buildings were owned by aristocrats and noble men during the Middle Ages, when rising towers and palaces as high as possible in the sky was synonymous with power and a visible sign of one’s own political and economic influence.
The majestic towers of San Gimignano dominate the wonderful surrounding countryside with an astonishing panorama, for this reason San Gimignano has been called “the Manhattan of the Middle Ages”.
Originally there were as many as 72 towers and tower-houses, that flourished during the golden age of the town’s municipality, in a period of great conflict between the Guelfi and Ghibellini, led respectively from the wealthy Ardinghelli and Salvucci families.
Only 16 towers have been preserved and have miraculously survived against wars and conflicts to the present day.
In Piazza Duomo you can admire what is the most ancient tower in San Gimignano: the Torre della Rognosa, also called Torre dell’Orologio (clock’s tower), rising from the beautiful Palazzo del Podestà, the town’s hall. That’s one of the highest towers and amongst the better preserved.
An edict of the year 1255 ordered that no other building of the city should have been taller than the municipality’s tower, but the disposition was soon ignored by many wealthy families that soon erected similar towers nearby.
Through the imposing appearance of these buildings the richest families of the time exerted their supremacy and power over the city.
The beautiful tower on the northwest corner of Piazza della Cisterna, next to Palazzo Cortesi, is known as Torre del Diavolo, the Devil’s Tower.
According to the legend, its owner returned after a long journey and found the tower to be taller, he so became convinced it was the work of the the Devil itself, that had been working during his absence.
The Torre Grossa or great tower is the highest tower of San Gimignano, located in Piazza del Duomo, next to Palazzo del Podestà, was begun the 21th of August 1300, some months after the visit of Dante Alighieri as the Guelfi’s ambassador, and was finished in 1311.
It is 54 meters high and can be visited, once on its top you get a fabulous panorama over all the village and the surrounding beautiful lanscape.
You can climb the tower with the same ticket of the Museo Civico, that we highly recommend visiting.
Finally, the Torre Chigi, to be found in Piazza del Duomo, though not very high, is one of the most beautiful towers of the town, and is flanked by splendid medieval palaces.
The central location of our lovely and welcoming Hotel L’Antico Pozzo, will give
the possibility to admire these unique and fascinating historical buildings, each telling a different story.
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