There's a lot more to the city of Pisa than its famous Leaning Tower, the astonishingly crooked campanile of Pisa Cathedral. Aside from its engineering difficulties, the tower is a magnificent example of Romanesque architecture, composed of band after band of harmonious blind arcading. And it is only a small part of a beautiful architectural ensemble that spreads across the flat and green Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles). Pisa has a population of about 90,000 and is located about 50 miles west of Florence on Italy's west coast. First settled before 1000 BC, it was a trading port under the Romans. By the 11th century, it had become one of Italy's most powerful maritime republics and in 1135 it defeated rival Amalfi to secure its weath and power for the next century. It was during this period that the monumental buildings were added to the landscape. But in 1284 its fleet was defeated by Genoa, initiating the city's decline. Florence took control of Pisa in 1406 and kept it until Italian unification in the 1860s. Since the demise of its naval power, Pisa's main claim to fame has been its university, founded in 1343. Pisa is also the birthplace of the great astronomer Galileo (1564-1642), who dropped uneven weights off the Leaning Tower to learn about gravity. Follow a link below to learn more about the rich spiritual and architectural heritage of Pisa.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
One of Europe's great icons, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the campanile (bell tower) of Pisa Cathedral. In addition to its astonishing lean, the tower is notable for its magnificent Romanesque arcading.
Begun in 1093, Pisa Cathedral is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. Its marble exterior is covered in rhythmic arcades and the interior boasts important works of art by Pisano and others.
Begun in 1153 in a Romanesque style and completed in the 1300s in the Gothic style, the Battistero di San Giovanni is the largest in Italy. Among its notable furnishings are a large central font and a Pisano pulpit.
The Monumental Cemetery was constructed in 1278 to house the sacred dirt brought back from Golgotha during the Crusades. It then became the burial place of the Pisan upper class.