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PISA - The Cathedral, The Baptistery, The Leaning Tower



Pisa is one of the most famous towns in Italy. It's in Tuscany, on the coast of the sea Tirreno, near Livorno and it has 88.300 inhabitants.

The most important monuments are in Piazza dei Miracoli, also called Piazza of the Cathedral, which is the most important tourist center of the town; here you can visit the religious monuments, called "miracles 515h72f " for their beauty and originality: they are the cathedral, the baptistery, the cemetery and the world famous leaning tower.

The Cathedral

It  is called Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and its construction was begun in 1064 by the architect Buscheto di Giovanni.

It is a medieval marble church, built in Pisan Romanesque style, which is divided into five naves with a transept to three naves.

The interior is coated with white and black marbles; there's a gilt panelled ceiling and here we can also find some frescos by famous artists, as those by Andrea del Sarto, Beccafumi and Sodoma. In 1595 a fire destroyed most medieval works of art, but not the mosaic of  "Christ in majesty" by Cimabue which survived the fire.

Another masterpieces is the pulpit, sculpted by Giovanni Pisano from 1302 to 1310.

The cathedral façade includes some very rich decorations of multicolour marble and mosaics. The main door of massive bronze melted in the shop of Giambologna is very important

It can be interesting to know some curiosities: one can be that of the incense chandelier in the center of the nave, which is called "Galileo's" as the legend wants the scientist to have formulated the pendulum isochronism theory looking at the swing of this chandelier.

Another legend is that of the stone with the "devil nails": it says that the devil, trying to climb on the cathedral in the attempt to stop its building, left the signs of his nails on the church. Furthermore it says that every time these scratches are counted, they never amount to the same number.

The Baptistery

Dedicated to San Giovanni Battista, it was begun in 1153 by Diotisalvi architect and was prevalently built of white marble; it replaces a previous smaller baptistery and it is inspired to the baptistery in Florence. It was built in a Romanesque style. It is the biggest baptistery in Italy, in fact it is 54 meters high and has a 35 meter internal diameter.

The interior is simple and without decorations; we can notice the pulpit, sculpted by Nicola Pisano between 1255 and 1260.

Outside, on the dome top, we can notice an immense statue representing San Giovanni Battista.

The Leaning Tower

The leaning tower of Pisa, called commonly "tower of Pisa" is the cathedral's bell tower and is the most important monument of the town. It's known all over the world for its slope.

The building began in the August of 1173 and continued for about 200 years. The tower was planned straight, but during the building the damp ground, due to the sea closeness, collapsed and the tower started inclining.

The tower is built of white marble, and is about 58 meters high with 3 meters of foundations and weighbridge about 14.500 tons.

This monument was probably built by Bonanno Pisano and about ninety years after his death, another architect, Giovanni de Simone, tried to straighten the tower.

To reach  the tower's top you must climb up 294 steps.

Piazza dei Cavalieri

Piazza dei Cavalieri lies to the south-east of Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa.

This square rises on the place of the ancient Roman forum. Here the political, social and cultural life of the town was performed. In origin it was called "square of the seven streets", because seven of the most important roads of the town were converged here.

Its name, "Piazza dei Cavalieri" derives from a decision of Cosimo I de' Medici to establish the Santo Stefano's Riders Order, formed to fight the raids of the Saracen pirates and the Turks.

The square was submitted to restructuring  jobs for order of Cosimo I , who entrusted this task the well known florentine architect Giorgio Vasari. Works started in 1562.

We can find many of the historical town palaces here: the most important is the Caravan Palace (before called Elders' Palace), that today houses the Normal School of Pisa, founded on Napoleon's order; then there is the Tower of Gualandi, also called "Hunger Tower": infact Ugolino della Gherardesca was imprisoned here with his sons and newphews in 1289, condemned to die of starvation. The legend tells that when his sons where going to die, they begged their father to eat them after their death; this story became even more famous when Dante Alighieri wrote about it in his "Divine Comedy"


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