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Palace of the Priors

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza dei Priori, 20, 56048 Volterra PI, Italy

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 4:30 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps

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expert
Ambra
Local tour guide
"Visit Palazzo dei Priori later in the afternoon when the tour groups have tapered off; you'll have a more tranquil experience and can enjoy the stunning medieval architecture in peace. For an unforgettable view, climb to the top of the bell tower just before sunset, the entrance is a bit hidden but ask a local and they'll point you to the staircase – the panoramic view of Tuscany's rolling hills is truly breathtaking."

What is Palazzo dei Priori?

The Palazzo dei Priori is a historic building that stands as a beacon of medieval architecture in the heart of Volterra, a charming hill town in Tuscany, Italy. This graceful structure serves as the town hall and is notable for being one of the oldest public buildings in Italy. Its façade, adorned with the coats of arms of past magistrates, whispers tales of its former grandeur and the intricate political history woven within its walls.

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In its long-standing role, the Palazzo has been the hub of administrative power for the city, watching over the changing tides of local governance. Its interiors, which have been meticulously maintained and renovated where necessary, provide an intimate peek into the artistic and political inclinations of those who have governed from its halls. The building allows us, visitors and citizens alike, to step back in time and envisage the era of its inception and use.

History of Palazzo dei Priori

The history of the Palazzo dei Priori is etched into its stones, beginning with its construction, which dates back to the early 13th century. Conceived initially in 1208 and later completed in the mid-14th century, the Palazzo was the seat of the Priors, who were the highest magistrates of the Volterra's government. Over the centuries, it has seen various additions and renovations, reflecting the aesthetic and practical needs of different eras.

During the medieval period, Volterra was a city of considerable influence, and the construction of the Palazzo dei Priori was a manifestation of its civic pride and autonomy. It was designed both to serve the administrative needs of the city and to visibly symbolize its prosperity. The Palazzo stood through periods of turmoil and tranquility alike, echoing the political changes from free municipal to Medici rule, and eventually becoming part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Why is Palazzo dei Priori Important?

Palazzo dei Priori is more than just an old building from times past—it's a silent witness to centuries of Volterra's story, playing a pivotal role in the cultural and political life of the town. Its historic value is paramount, as it stands as an emblem of the evolving architectural styles and the governance systems that directed the town's progression through the ages. The significance of the Palazzo lies in its continuous function as a public building, contributing to its conservation and relevance.

Its importance is also rooted in the fact that it served as a prototype for the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, underscoring its architectural influence in the region. Additionally, it houses invaluable frescoes and art pieces that draw art historians and enthusiasts from across the globe. Its robust, crenellated towers offer panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, providing a literal high point for anyone delving into Tuscany's scenic and historical treasures.

Things to Do & See at Palazzo dei Priori

The Palazzo dei Priori is not only a delight for history buffs but also for those who appreciate the finer details in art and architecture. Within its walls, you can explore several ornately decorated rooms, such as the Sala del Consiglio, where important decisions were made, and which today still retains its grandeur with frescoes and art from centuries past.

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Visitors can ascend the staircase to reach the upper floors, discovering the former living quarters of the Priors, and the Aldobrandeschi Room, which is adorned with beautiful Sienese school frescoes. One of the most mesmerizing features is the intricately coffered ceiling of the council hall, which is a sight to behold in itself. Outside the building, the piazza offers a sublime spot to soak in the atmosphere of Volterra, where you can imagine the day-to-day life of the medieval townspeople against the backdrop of the Palazzo's enduring presence.

Finally, make your way up the Belfry, if it's open during your visit. The climb is not for the faint-hearted as it's quite steep, but the vistas from the top are truly rewarding. Overlooking the huddled terracotta rooftops of Volterra and the breathtaking Tuscan landscape, it's a view that encapsulates the beauty and history of this incomparable region.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Palazzo dei Priori in Tuscany?

The Palazzo dei Priori is a historic building in Volterra, Tuscany, that has served as the town's city hall since the 13th century. It is one of the oldest municipal buildings in Italy and is known for its beautiful architecture and the significant role it has played in the region's history.

Can visitors tour the inside of Palazzo dei Priori?

Yes, visitors can tour the Palazzo dei Priori. The building is open to the public and houses many rooms rich in art and history, including frescoes and other significant artifacts that offer insight into the past life of the city.

Are there any notable artworks or features within Palazzo dei Priori?

The Palazzo dei Priori contains several notable artworks and architectural features, including frescoes from various periods, a beautiful Gothic façade, and the Sala del Consiglio, which has historically been the meeting place of the town council.

What is the historical significance of Palazzo dei Priori?

Palazzo dei Priori holds historical significance for being one of the earliest examples of communal architecture in Tuscany. It exemplifies the development of local self-government during the Middle Ages and has been the center of political power in Volterra for centuries.

Is there an admission fee to enter Palazzo dei Priori, and are there guided tours available?

There is typically an admission fee to enter Palazzo dei Priori, and it is advisable to check the latest information regarding the fee and opening hours before visiting. Guided tours may be available, providing deeper insights into the history and art of the building.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza dei Priori, 20, 56048 Volterra PI, Italy

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 4:30 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps