Yes, it's true: the Leaning Tower leans. Construction started in 1173 but stopped a decade later when the structure's first three tiers...
Piazza dei Miracoli
Pisans claim that Campo dei Miracoli is among the most beautiful urban spaces in the world. Certainly, the immaculate walled lawns...
Soil shipped from Calvary during the Crusades is said to lie within the white walls of this hauntingly beautiful, final resting place...
Trattoria La Buca
A favourite with both Pisans and visitors alike, this Tuscan trattoria is conveniently positioned near the Piazza dei Miracoli. The...
Piazza dei Miracoli · interesting places nearby
Pisa's cathedral was paid for with spoils brought home after Pisans attacked an Arab fleet entering Palermo in 1063. Begun a year later, the cathedral, with its striking cladding of alternating bands of green and cream marble, became the blueprint floor for Romanesque churches throughout Tuscany. The elliptical dome, the first of its kind in Europe at the time, was added in 1380.
The cathedral was the largest in Europe when it was constructed; its breathtaking proportions were designed to demonstrate Pisa's domination of the Mediterranean. Its main facade – not completed until the 13th century – has four exquisite tiers of columns diminishing skywards, while the vast interior, 96m long and 28m high, is propped up by 68 hefty granite columns in classical style. The wooden ceiling decorated with 24-carat gold is a legacy from the period of Medici rule.
Before stepping foot in the cathedral, study the three pairs of 16th-century bronze doors at the main entrance. Designed by the school of Giambologna to replace the wooden originals destroyed (along with most of the cathedral interior) by fire in 1596, the doors are quite spellbinding – hours can be spent deciphering the biblical scenes illustrating the immaculate conception of the Virgin and birth of Christ (central doors), the road to Calvary and crucifixion of Christ etc, and the Ministry of Christ. Kids can play spot the rhino.
Inside, don't miss the extraordinary early-14th-century octagonal pulpit in the north aisle. Sculpted from Carrara marble by Giovanni Pisano and featuring nude and heroic figures, its depth of detail and heightening of feeling brought a new pictorial expressionism and life to Gothic sculpture. Pisano's work forms a striking contrast to the controversial 2001 pulpit and altar by Italian sculptor Giuliano Vangi.