San Quirico d’Orcia is a peaceful Medieval small town in the heart of the scenic Val d’Orcia in Tuscany, Italy. The artistic highlight of the town is the honey-coloured Romanesque Collegiata, famous for its beautifully carved portals.
San Quirico, 45 kms. south of Siena in Tuscany may seem a little off the beaten path now, but in Medieval time it was an important stop along the Via Francigena. So important the Archbishop of Canterbury Sigeric mentioned it in his diary as he passed through on his way to Rome in 990AD.
The religious site that Sigeric would have seen at that time, dedicated to the child-martyr Saint Quiricus, was completely rebuilt in the 12th century. And after many successive renovations, it became the Collegiata dei Santi Quirico e Giuditta that we know today. A beautiful edifice built in sandstone and travertine, with plenty of fascinating details. Take your time to explore the exterior of the church.Photo by Vignaccia76 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Collegiata Church San Quirico d’Orcia – Romanesque beauty
The oldest portal, with its interlacing columns and scaly dragons battling above the doorway, is the finest example of Romanesque art in the area.
A walk around the church reveals lots of delightful surprises. From peaceful sirens, to a grinning figure on the south wall that seems to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders.Photo by Edisonblus – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
But it’s the weathered lions which guard the doors that draw most attention. Symbolising goodness and justice, the lions are also a representation of Christ himself. According to medieval bestiaries, the cubs are born dead and brought to life on the third day by the roars of their father – just as Jesus was woken by God after three days in the tomb.
The bell tower is the most recent part, rebuilt in 1806, while most of the interior decorations dates back to the 17th century.
Check out our Val d’Orcia itinerary that include San Quirico d’Orcia, Pienza and the splendid surroundings. If you love the Romanesque style, you might also have a look at some of the best Romanesque churches in Tuscany.