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The political and cultural influence of Siena reached its greatest heights in the late Middle Ages, which explains why the city has so many well-preserved architectural wonders, most of which date back to the 1300s or earlier. The main attraction is the Duomo, built between the 1100s and 1300s in the Italian Romanesque style. It is unique among cathedrals for having a north-south rather than east-west axis. Inside, there is a Gothic pulpit built by Nicola Pisano, a sacristy with Renaissance frescoes by Ghirlandaio, and a bapistry of bas-reliefs by Donatello, Ghiberti, and Jacopo della Quercia.
The Piazza del Campo, or town square, has been the cultural and civic center of old Siena since the 1100s, and serves as the main grounds for the Palio, a famous horse race that occurs every summer. The focal point of the square is the Torre del Mangia, a bell-and-clock tower built in 1334. Right next to the tower is located the Palazzo Pubblico, a palace that houses a series of frescoes done by famous Italian artists such as Lorenzetti.Other notable palaces include the Palazzo Salimbeni, located on the Piazza Salimbeni. In medieval times, it served as the headquarters for the Monte dei Paschi di Siena, a bank that is still in existence today and plays an influential role in the city’s economy. There is also the Palazzo Chigi on Via di Città, a fortress that houses the conservatory of Accademia Musicale Chigiana, the wine bar Enoteca Italiana, and the city’s jazz music school.