Italy, Tuscany, Pisa, View to Cathedral and Leaning Tower of Pisa at Piazza dei Miracoli
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Piazza dei Miracoli


Pisans claim that Campo dei Miracoli is among the world's most beautiful urban spaces. Its walled lawns provide a photogenic setting for the candy-striped duomo, begun in 1063, with graceful tiered facade and cavernous interior; the battistero, started in 1153 and completed by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano in 1260, with Nicola Pisano's beautiful pulpit inside; and the beautiful camposanto cemetery, said to contain soil shipped from Calvary during the Crusades. But it's to the Leaning Tower that all eyes are drawn.

Bonanno Pisano began building the tower (actually the campanile for the neighbouring cathedral) in 1173, but almost immediately his plans came a cropper due to a layer of shifting soil. Only three of the tower's seven tiers were completed before it started tilting – continuing at a rate of about 1mm per year. By 1990 the lean had reached 5.5 degrees – a 10th of a degree beyond the critical point established by computer models. Stability was finally ensured in 1998 when a combination of biased weighting and soil drilling forced the tower into a safer position. Today it's almost 4.1m off the perpendicular. Visits are limited to groups of 45 and children under eight years are not allowed entrance; entry times are staggered and queuing is predictably inevitable. It is wise to book ahead.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Pisa attractions

1. Leaning Tower

0.01 MILES

One of Italy's signature sights, the Torre Pendente truly lives up to its name, leaning a startling 3.9 degrees off the vertical. The 58m-high tower,…

2. Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

0.03 MILES

Closed for extensive (seemingly everlasting) renovation, this museum is a repository for works of art once displayed in the duomo and battistero…

3. Duomo

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Pisa's magnificent duomo was begun in 1064 and consecrated in 1118. Its striking tiered exterior, with green-and-cream marble cladding, gives onto a…

4. Museo delle Sinopie

0.08 MILES

Home to some fascinating frescoes, this museum safeguards several sinopie (preliminary sketches), drawn by the artists in red earth pigment on the walls…

5. Camposanto

0.13 MILES

Soil shipped from Calvary during the Crusades is said to lie within the white walls of this hauntingly beautiful resting place for many prominent Pisans,…

6. Battistero

0.13 MILES

Pisa's unusual round baptistry has one dome piled on top of another, each roofed half in lead, half in tiles, and topped by a gilt bronze John the Baptist…

7. Mura di Pisa (Main Entrance)

0.18 MILES

For an alternative bird's-eye perspective of the Leaning Tower and grandiose Piazza dei Miracoli rooftops, take a walk atop Pisa's medieval city walls,…

8. Orto e Museo Botanico

0.26 MILES

For a Zen-like respite from the Piazza dei Miracoli crowd, explore this peaceful walled garden laced with centurion palm trees, flora typical to the…