The twenty years of Pienza as an UNESCO site

pienza unesco site

The twentieth anniversary of Pienza as a UNESCO site

In 2016, the twenty years of Pienza, recognised as a UNESCO heritage site, were celebrated. The city of Pius II completed a program which in 2016 saw a series of events entitled ‘Save the Beauty‘. These events were aimed at enhancing and safeguarding the architectural heritage of Pienza, a village that, not surprisingly, has also been awarded with the orange flag prize as an urban center that stands out for the quality of the landscape and architecture.

On that occasion, the Cathedral of Pienza was reopened to the public, one of the most extraordinary monuments all throughout Val d’Orcia. The building is the symbol of Pope Pius II’s the humanism. In 1458 the pope, a few months after his election to the St.Peter’s chair, wanted to raise in his native village a building that was the celebration of his pontificate and expression of the most noble values ​​of Christianity as well.

The Cathedral of Pienza, an extraordinary monument

The Cathedral of Pienza has already been involved for several years in periodic restoration campaigns which also aim to keep under control the stability the ground on which the foundations of the building rest, a land that has hydrogeological instabilities that always have unfortunately put the conservation of the church at serious risk.

The danger that UNESCO heritage sites often face had been the theme of the debate that took place on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Pienza recognised as a world heritage site. Unfortunately, on many occasions — even recently — UNESCO sites are endangered by war events, as happened in the tragic experience of Palmyra or, more recently, in Iran.


The lodge of Piccolomini Palace, 1459, Pienza

The ‘Renaissance miracle’

The uniqueness of Pienza that makes it a UNESCO site of extraordinary importance lies in the contingency of people and events that made the “miracle of the Renaissance” came true. That is, it was here in the mid-fifteenth century when the village of Corsignano was subject to a rebuilding project that mirrored the rational criteria enunciated by a great architectural theorist such as Leon Battista Alberti. It was in Pienza where, for the first and last time in history, an urban redevelopment project — inspired therefore by the architectural ideals of the Renaissance — was almost fulfilled. The great humanistic Pius II’s project not only concerned the construction of the buildings but it also came to carefully choose the decoration and furnishings of the buildings, which is still possible to fully appreciate inside the Cathedral (for more details click here).

Visiting Pienza UNESCO heritage means making an extraordinary experience in history. To properly experience the great heritage preserved here, deciphering its most hidden signs, it is advisable to do it through a guided tour of the town