Basilica of San Clemente in Santa Maria dei Servi
Siena’s Basilica of San Clemente in Santa Maria dei Servi is an enchanting church constructed in the 13th century. This masterpiece is a magnificent example of the Italian Gothic style. It features a stone and brick façade and a beautifully-decorated interior. The basilica is dedicated to St Clement, the third Pope after St Peter, and was built on an ancient Roman temple devoted to the cult of Mithras.
The Basilica of San Clemente in Santa Maria dei Servi: history, styles and architecture
The Basilica di San Clemente in Santa Maria dei Servi is a church located in the historical centre of Siena, precisely in Piazza Manzoni. The Servite Order, which arrived in Siena around 1250 from the convent of Monte Senario, built this basilica within the city walls at the behest of the City Council. The church was founded in the 13th century. Construction work began in 1255 and was completed with no little difficulty in 1537.
The building is made unique by its incorporation of different styles: some areas of the church, such as the transept and terminal chapels, are in the Gothic style, while the longitudinal body, divided into three naves, is in keeping with the Renaissance style. The bell tower, erected between the 14th and 15th centuries, is of Romanesque construction. The staircase to access the basilica was not built until 1750. Three naves, five bays and a transept were built around the Egyptian cross floor plan.
The longitudinal body of the church was built by Ventura Turapilli in 1471. Look carefully to spot the majestic Corinthian capitals. The towering, vaulted ceilings of the naves give the basilica a solemn, yet simultaneously refined appearance.
The Basilica of San Clemente’s most beautiful frescoes
Inside the simple exterior of the church of San Clemente hide works of extraordinary architectural beauty and priceless artistic value. First and foremost is the Madonna del Bordone, a work by Coppo di Marcovaldo, painted during his imprisonment in Siena in the course of the Battle of Montaperti, in 1260. This painting became the artist’s bargaining chip to obtain his freedom. The tempera and gold panel painting depicts the Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child in her arms, flanked by two angels.
There is also the Nativity of Mary by Rutilio Manetti , painted in 1625, and Slaughter of the innocents and Madonna with Child, Saints and Patrons by Matteo di Giovanni, carried out in 1491. In 1364, Jacopo di Mino del Pellicciaio painted the ‘Madonna di Belvedere’, located in the second chapel. The fourth chapel houses Madonna and Saints by Francesco Curradi and, on the adjoining wall, Adoration of the Shepherds by Alessandro Casolani.
Opening hours and price of admission to the basilica
The Basilica of San Clemente is open to the public every day of the week from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Admission to the church is free.
A visit to the basilica is absolutely recommended. The contrast between the simplicity of the exterior and the frescoes inside is guaranteed to please everyone’s taste, and makes the basilica of San Clemente in Santa Maria dei Servi a must-see if you find yourself near Siena.