The Castle of Monteriggioni: an impregnable fortressAugust 6, 2014
The Castle of Monteriggioni was built by the Sieneses, by order of the podesta Guelfo da Porcari, between 1214 and 1219. This Castle represents a natural tourist destination, thanks to the marvelous location and its majesty. Every year it is visited by about 70,000 tourists, the first and most famous of which was perhaps Dante. The Florentine writer and poet saw it during one of his journeys, a few years after its foundation, and he was so impressed that he used it as an inspiration for the description of the Malebolge’s Giants, in his Inferno.
The Castle stands on a hill from which it dominates the entire valley, looking even more imposing and impressive. Monteriggioni was built mainly for defense purposes and it was in fact an impregnable fortress, as evidenced by the type of city walls that surround the castle. The circular layout of these walls was obtained by simply following the natural contour of the hills. It is still uncertain if the castle was equipped with a drawbridge or not, but it is rather sure that it had gate valves, which were thick wooden doors covered with iron and driven by pulleys. The Castle of Monteriggioni was also surrounded by so-called charcoal pits: they were ditches filled with coal, which was burned to repel assaults. It was thanks to all these characteristics that the Castle could ensure the security and freedom of the Sienese Republic for three hundred years, rejecting attacks and sieges of various kinds.
The fort fell only in 1554 because of a betrayal, when the captain of the garrison formed a secret alliance with the Florentines to give them the castle in exchange for his safety and the one of his family. According to various legends, the Castle is equipped with a large number of underground tunnels and secret passages that led to the neighboring fortresses. One of these would be even connected to Siena.
You can get to the Castle from Siena, both by car and by bus or train. From the highway, you shall exit at Monteriggioni and follow the signs to the castle. By train, you shall get off at the Castellina Scalo – Monteriggioni Station, which is about three kilometers from the castle. To get there you shall take one of the many buses or take a long walk, if you like.
The visit to the Castle is free.