An unconquerable fortress

with its unmistakable profile

Located 3 km East of Volterra, Monte Voltraio differs from the landscape surrounding it, with its almost pyramid-like profile due to its geological foundation, and with sand and arenaceous limestone creating a proper vertical rocky slope on the East side of the hill.
The natural characteristics of the hill (458 metres high) guaranteed for high defensibility on every side, making the top of the hill basically unconquerable. Because of this, a fortified settlement was built here, in order to control the roads coming from Siena and the Val d’Era.


The first documentation of this fortress dates back to 967, attesting the bishop of Volterra’s power of it. The bishop ruled over it up until the 13th century, when the castle became the object of many disputes with the municipality of Volterra, which besieged the castle in 1218 and eventually subdued it in 1252. The fortress then went under Florence’s dominion in the 13th century, but it was given back to Volterra as long as they dismantled it. Volterra besieged it again in 1427, and the castle was irreparably damaged in 1433, after the intervention of Niccolò Piccinino’s gang.

Today, only some parts of the towers, the walls, the parish church and the houses are visible. The most important buildings were located on top of the hill, whereas the parish church and the “borgo”, also surrounded by walls, were at the base of the hill.

At the beginning of the 13th century, when the municipality of Volterra was home to 7000 people, the fortress and the “borgo” housed around 1000 people. This is further proof of the fact that the castle played an important role in the organisation and control of a strategic area of the area around Volterra in the Middle Ages.

Consorzio Turistico Volterra Valdicecina Valdera S.c.r.l.
Piazza dei Priori 19/20 - 56048 Volterra (PI) - PIVA 01308340502
Operation/Project allocated within the framework of the POR FESR Tuscany 2014-2020