Abbazia di San Galgano

This Cistercian Abbey was one of the first major gothic churches in Tuscany, and a model for the cathedral in Siena. It was built between 1224 and 1288 where, in 1180, the hermit Galgano plunger his sword into a rock.

The abbazia is now in ruin, but there is a charm about walking through the building, with no roof, and feeling the size and magnitude of the structure. We have talked through the remaining structure and you can visualize the church with three aisles.

Travertine rock was used for the walls that had a load bearing function or were the major dividing walls of the church. The inner walls and the vaulting were done with brick.

Abazzia de San Galgano
Abazzia de San Galgano


Not alot of decorations left, but probably never there in the first place, as the Cistercian monks would have followed the rules of Bernard of Clairvaux and decorations were thought to be unecessary distractions from worship. There are decorations of the capitals that remain through the structure.

Mercenary John Hawkwood plundered the abbey in 1364. From the mid 1400's abbots were political appointees who had the authority to appropriate the abbaye's revenue for their own private use.

San GalganoNear the end, Abbot Girolamo Vitelli who had only five monks at the abbaye sold the last of the assets including the lead from the roof in the mid 16th Century.!

By the 1600's the abbey was abandoned. Records and treasures were removed. The bell tower collapsed in 1786. When the bell tower fell so did part of the roof structure and the abbaye became a spot fort local builders to obtain stone.

There is a wall of the cloisers left, and the chapter how is now the gift shop.