The Fortezza Medicea in Siena is also known as Forte di Santa Barbara. The square fortress has been a public park since 1937 and one of the bastions now houses the Enoteca Italiana.
Fortezza Medicea Siena
The address of the Fortezza Medicea is Piazza Caduti delle Forze Armate, 53100 Siena. The park is free to enter.
History and description
The Forte Medicea was built between 1561 and 1563. It was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici and the architect was Baldassare Lanci.
On the site where it was built there had previously been a defensive structure erected by the Spaniards. This had been built in 1548 by order of Charles V and demolished in 1552 by the people of Siena.
The originally L-shaped Fortezza Medicea was later changed to its present square layout. At each corner it has a hexagonal bastion. It is made of brick. On the sides there were so-called piazze basse (“low squares”), from which one could fire artillery in a protected manner.
The construction of the fortress underscored the authority that the Medici exercised over the city and symbolized, as it were, the end of independence. The coats of arms of the Medici are therefore triumphantly sculpted on three of the bastions. The oats of arms are crowned by lion heads. The bastion facing south only has the lion head.
The entrance is on the north eastern side, near the Lizza Gardens.
On the south eastern side, which faces the city, a statue of Saint Catherine of Siena has been mounted.
From the end of the 18th century the fortress was no longer used for military purposes and from 1937 onward it has served as a public park, from which one also has a magnificent view of the city and the hilly surroundings. Footpaths, lined by benches and trees, have been created on top of the walls.
In the center a sort of amphitheater has been built. In the summer months this is used for concerts and other cultural events.
In the cellars of one of the bastions is the seat of the Enoteca Italiana, where one can taste Italian (and foreign) wine.