Siena, at the peak of its power from the end of the middle ages to the beginning of the Renaissance, is the embodiment of a medieval city. Its inhabitants pursued their rivalry with Florence right into the area of urban planning. Throughout the centuries, they preserved their city's Gothic appearance, acquired between the 12th and 15th centuries. During this period the work of Duccio, the Lorenzetti brothers and Simone Martini was to influence the course of Italian and, more broadly, European art. The whole city of Siena, built around the Piazza del Campo (one of Europe's most beautiful squares), was devised as a work of art that blends into the surrounding landscape. The maze of old, sinous, and narrow streets, as well as the magnificent Piazza del Campo and majestic Gothic Palazzo Publico, make up Italy's best preserved medieval ensemble. The climb up the bell tower rewards the visitor with a great view of the Piazza. The enchanting old city of Siena, still largely surrounded by medieval walls, is easily toured on foot. It displays a remarkable unity of style and tones, all in the earth-tones which later came to be known by the name of the town. Had the 14th plans to enlarge the cathedral been realized, it would have become the largest church in Christendom. As it is, with its mixture of sculpture, painting, and Pisan-influenced Romanesque-Gothic architecture, it is still impressive. Like in Florence, there is an overwhelming concentration of art in the city's churches and museums. The historic centre of Siena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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