Santa Maria della Scala Siena

The cycle of frescos in the Sala del Pellegrinaio (Pilgrims’ Hall) is the departure point for the various museums

Piazza del Duomo, 1, 53100 Siena SI, Italy


From 15th March to 15th October

Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Saturday / Sunday:
10.00 am to 7.00 pm

10.00 am -10 p.m.

From 16th October to 14th March
(save for the period from 23th november to 6th January)

Monday / Wednesday / Thursday:
10.00 am to 5.00 pm

Friday: 10.00 am to 8.00 pm

Saturday / Sunday: 10.00 am to 7.00 pm

Tuesday: Closed

From the 23th December to 6th January

Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Saturday / Sunday:
10.00 am to 7.00 pm

Closed at Christmas

Festive days
10.00 am to 7 pm

At 19,000 square metres, the museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala stretches over a large part of Piazza del Duomo, opposite the cathedral, in the city’s historical centre. Inside are housed numerous collections of Etruscan, medieval, Renaissance and contemporary art. Today, the museum complex boasts more than 200,000 visitors a year. The term ‘della Scala’ refers to the location, directly opposite the church. 

What to see in the Santa Maria della Scala museum complex

The museum complex is spread across several floors, which descend downwards, immersing the visitor in an artistic nucleus of rare variety. Visitors find themselves discovering small universes of extraordinary beauty and immense artistic value. 


Its very special location has made this museum complex take on a very unusual form. Within this extensive museum complex, spread over several levels, making it extraordinarily alluring to discover, we can also visit the Ancient Hospital

The latter was built in a relatively short period of time, between the mid-12th century and the mid-15th century. 

The women’s pavilion was built in 1338 and was formerly a hospital ward. Fragments of the fresco, ‘Trinity of Saints Philip and Lawrence’ by Martino di Bartolomeo, are still preserved inside. In addition, there are fragments of the ‘Madonna of Mercy’. During works carried out about ten years ago, some niches used for storage were discovered. 

The Santa Maria della Scala museum complex: how it changed over time 

This building was generally used to accommodate pilgrims and the needy from all over the world, and assistance was mainly given to the sick. It was later enlarged, renovated and became an even more functional and efficient facility. 

Initially, management was entrusted to the canons of the cathedral. Over the years, the hospital underwent an important process of secularisation, until 1400, at which point its management was taken over by the municipality of Siena.

The hospital remained in operation until 1995, after which the premises were renovated and the museum complex was opened, which can still be visited today. To this day, renovation work is still in progress; however, the oldest part of the complex is the central doorway, where Storia della Vergine was painted in 1335 by Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti. No trace of this remains today. In 1257, the Church of the Santissima Annunziata was annexed, then, in 1290, the rector’s palace and finally, in 1298, the nurses’ house. 

This very important complex is now considered the third most significant artistic pole in the city of Siena, after the Duomo and the Palazzo Pubblico. 

The Church of Santa Maria della Scala

The church of Santa Maria della Scala is located within the complex and dates back to the 13th century. The church has a simple and austere façade, but inside it contains some masterpieces of medieval art. Among the most important works are frescoes by Bernardino Fungai and Giovanni di Paolo, as well as a statue of the Madonna and Child by Jacopo della Quercia.

In conclusion, Santa Maria della Scala is one of the most interesting and evocative places in Siena, one of the city’s true treasures. Thanks to its centuries-old history and the vast collection of works of art and historical artefacts it houses, the Santa Maria della Scala complex is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Siena.

Today, this complex is more dynamic than ever; it hosts numerous exhibitions, has a very interesting and rich programme. If you are visiting, remember to check the programme of current exhibitions, because the range on offer is so varied it will amaze you. 

I Comuni di Terre di Siena