There once stood 72 tower houses within this double walled city, each built to demonstrate the wealth and power of the competing noble families. The fourteen that remain, rising proudly above its palaces, preserves the history of a feudal town controlled by rival factions ever ready for conflict.
San Gimignano mainly developed in the first three centuries of the Millennium, thanks to its favorable geographical position becoming an important transit stop for pilgrims traveling from France to Rome. The city flourished until 1348 when two thirds of its population was decimated by the Black Death. San Gimignano knew a long period of decline in the shadow of dominant Florence. This decline served to insulate San Gimignano from the influence of different architectural styles as there was little subsequent development. San Gimignano remained preserved in its medieval state until the 19th century when its status as a tourist and artistic destination began to be recognized. Today San Gimignano continues to preserve its authenticity thanks to the strict enforcement of the restoration principles.