MONTERIGGIONI

Monteriggioni medieval castle Monteriggioni medieval castle

MONTERIGGIONI : THE CASTLE

 

Seen from a distance, the Castle of Monteriggioni with its walls and remaining towers witnessing the distant past, gives an impression that time has come to a stand-still - both inside and outside of its walls.

Even though the inhabitants and their ways of life have changed through centuries, those that still choose to live in the castle today remain in touch with history and the old agricultural values, retaining the slow, natural rhythm of life.

The image of the fortification on the hill-top, a sentinel in the defense of the Republic of Siena, has always inspired travelers.

Because of its beauty and position, it became a natural magnet for tourists -- nowadays it is visited by some 70,000 people every year.

But how much more majestic and powerful it must have appeared to Dante Alighieri who saw it at the time of battle during one of his travels! The fortress , at the time just a few decades old, was at the height of its splendour. With its circular shape and high towers crowning the walls , it certainly instilled enough sense of cyclopic majesty for Dante to find it worth of description (Dante Alighieri Inferno Canto XXXI)

Actually, Dante can be considered among the very first "tourists" to visit Monteriggioni. Among those that visited it recently were Ted Kennedy, Tony Blair, and many other VIPs.

The Castle has often been chosen as a site for films and short commercials .

The image of Monteriggioni is famous for yet another reason: it is a part of the emblem of Italy, the crown on the head of its effigy symbolizing Italy's invincible spirit.

In fact, due to the type of its fortification, Monteriggioni remained an invincible fortress (see the reconstruction) for three centuries. From the time of its construction in 1213, it resisted every siege, thus ensuring freedom to the Republic of Siena. It fell only in 1554, and that because of a betrayal; the traitor, the ill-famed Captain of the garrison, made a secret plot with the Florentines and in exchange for some favours surrendered the fortress to them without battle.

According to the legend, there were tunnels and secret passages connecting the castle with other fortifications. Legend also has it that there was an underground road that went all the way to Siena.

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