Arts & Culture


Piazza del Duomo, Pisa

The central, walled Piazza del Duomo in Pisa, Italy, is often referred to as Piazza dei Miracoli, or “Square of Miracles.” This is due to the grandiosity of four monumental structures within the square: the cathedral, the Baptistry, the campanile (bell tower), more commonly known as the “Leaning Tower of Pisa,” and the cemetery.

The Duomo is a medieval cathedral, dating back to 1064, built in the Romanesque style. It features a decorated white marble façade and massive central bronze doors, emphasized by richly detailed reliefs. The cathedral’s interior displays pointed arches and a coffered gold ceiling. Important medieval art, including Giovanni Pisano’s carved pulpit and Cimabue’s mosaic of St. John the Evangelist, also adorn the Duomo’s interior space.

The circular Baptistry (a building used for baptisms) is west of the Duomo and is dedicated to the important Christian figure St. John the Baptist. One of the largest in Italy, the Baptistry was built in the 12th–14th centuries and incorporates Romanesque and Gothic elements.

The campanile, or Leaning Tower of Pisa, was built over the course of 177 years, starting in 1173. The section of the tower that houses the bell was added in 1372. Soon after construction of the tower was underway, the southern part of the building began to sink as a result of poor subsoil and a weak foundation. Construction halted for nearly a century to allow the building to stabilize. When the upper floors were constructed, one side was built higher than the other to counteract the sway.

The cemetery, also known as the Campo Santo (Holy Field), is a walled Gothic cloister. Building began in 1278 and was completed in 1464. Within the embellished walls of the cloister, tombs are placed under arched covered passageways called arcades and on a central lawn.

The historic landmarks in the Piazza del Duomo in Pisa are a triumph of engineering and architectural and decorative grace.
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