Volterra | Palazzo dei Priori (the Priors Palace)

Piazza dei Priori is the centre of the medieval city, whose past splendour is witnessed by the buildings facing it, including Palazzo dei Priori, the oldest municipal building in Tuscany.

Now the Town Hall of Volterra, the Palace was begun in 1208 but not completed until 1257 with the addition of a second building along what is now Via Turazza.

Its location is not accidental: it was meant to demonstrate the supremacy and autonomy of the Municipality over the Bishop’s power, represented by the Cathedral and Baptistery behind it.

The façade has undergone several changes over time, starting in 1472, when the mighty lions and coats of arms of the Florentine governors were placed there after the conquest of Volterra.

The interior, at ground floor, has an engraving that represents the medieval unit of measurement: it was called “canna volterrana” and differed from those used in neighbouring cities.

On the first floor is the Sala del Consiglio Comunale (City Council Chamber) with a beautiful double-cross vaulted ceiling from 1516, replacing the original one with wooden beams. On the wall a fresco by Iacopo di Cione Orcagna (1383) of the Annunciation with four figures of Saints: Cosma and Damiano, Giusto and Ottaviano.

Above the main body stands the high tower that makes the palace more like a fortification than a public building. A breathtaking view of Volterra and the Cecina Valley from the top.

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