The ruins of the Cistercian Abbey of San Galgano
Abbazia di San Galgano
The ruins of the Cistercian Abbey of San Galgano are one of the most impressive sights of the Val di Merse and form the most important example of gothic-cistercian architecture on Siennese territory, indeed, in all of Italy. Construction of the Abbey began in 1218 and embodied the Cistercian rules based on formal sobriety inspired by the moral rigour of San Bernardo’s ideal. The abbey was built in a place already sanctified by the presence of the Montesiepi chapel (late 12 C) where the young hermit Galgano Guidottihad lived. He died in 1181 and was canonised in 1185. The abbey took 70 years to build but lasted a relatively brief time. The famine of 1329 and the subsequent plague epidemic of 1348 initiated its decline. In the mid-16 C, the physical collapse of the abbey became inevitable when the lead roof covering was sold. At the end of the 18 C lighting struck the campanile causing it to collapse and to carry away last roof vaults collapsed. The abbey was then definitively abandoned and deconsecrated.
The Hermitage of Montesiepi
The Hermitage of Montesiepi in its own way is just as attractive as the Abbey and the two are within easy walking distance of one another. The Hermitage is a 14 C structure built around a circular plan body. The rectangular side-chapel contains frescoes painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti between 1334 and 1336. The chapel interior is famous for its hemispheric vaulted ceiling in concentric two-tone rings created with brick and travertine and for the sword of San Galgano thrust into a rock.
More about San Galgano and Montesiepi.
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