The Chiesa di San Martino, church of San Martino, is one of the oldest churches in Siena. Named after the French bishop St Martin of Tours, its importance is hinted at by the fact that it gave its name to a third of the city.
It has been mentioned since the 8th century and then, with regularity, since the mid-12th century when it came into the possession of the Lucchese canons of San Frediano who remained there until 1300. Later, our church was granted in commendation with the title of priory. Given its dilapidated condition in 1463, restoration work began, but without great enthusiasm. In 1469, the General Council of the Republic warned of the urgency of resuming work. The last commendatore of San Martino granted it in 1532 to the Eremitani di Sant’Agostino, who attempted to improve its condition by requesting help from the city magistrates. The work finally took off in 1539, based on a design by Giovan Battista Pelori, and was completed in 1571. At this date, the church of San Martino took on the appearance that we still see today. However, the façade had to wait until 1613 (by Giovanni Fontana) to be completed.
Later, thanks to the munificence of the noble De’ Vecchi family, the high altar, the balustrades and the external staircase with the churchyard were rebuilt. With the raising of the bell tower to its current height in 1738, our church took on its definitive appearance. With the suppressions at the beginning of the 19th century, San Martino lost its centuries-old link with the Augustinians and came under the direct control of the Archdiocese of Siena.