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La Collegiata – San Gimignano

San Gimignano - La Collegiata - Fresco
San Gimignano - La Collegiata - InteriorSan Gimignano - view from the topSan Gimignano - day view

The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, simply called the Collegiata, is the most important church of San Gimignano. Located in Piazza Duomo it is mostly famous for its stunning frescoes’ cycles by Ghirlandaio, Gozzoli, Di Bartolo and many other important artists. In 1990 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in particular the frescoes were described as “works of outstanding beauty”.

The original church was built around the 10th century and dedicated to San Gimignano, its remains are buried here. However in less the two centuries the importance of the city had grown so much that a new church was needed. In the following centuries many statues and frescoes were added.

The Collegiate was built in Romanesque style, except the two chapels added later in the Renaissance style. The façade is very simple, there are two doors on the side and no central portal.

The interior is characterized by the use of colors: the nave colonnades are decorated with black and white marble, the volt is painted with lapis lazuli and gold stars.

The famous frescoes were added mostly during the 14th century. They are divided in cycles: Old Testament, New Testament, Last Judgement, Annunciation, San Sebastian and the one dedicated to the local Saint Fina. The different artists, all coming from the Sienese School, were deeply influenced by the Byzantine style and the Giotto’s renaissance style.

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Also one of the Collegiata’s Chapel was dedicated to the local Saint Fina. The legend says that when this young girls passed many miracles occurred. The chapel is considered a stunning example of the Renaissance style.

During the Second World War the church was seriously damaged, luckily a restoration in 1951 bring it back to its original splendor.