Field of Miracles

Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa is considered World Heritage Site by UNESCO for almost 25 years. It is not in the center of the city as you might think, but it is situated north-west of the walls, almost outside the village; probably at the time when the project was realized there was not another space as big as it could be used. Since the time of the Etruscans Piazza dei Miracoli is considered an important religious center: the three complexes that compose it symbolize the main stages of the life of every man: the Baptistery the birth, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta the life and the Camposanto alludes clearly to death.

And the Tower of Pisa? We have not forgotten, you must know that the so-called and famous Leaning Tower is part of the Cathedral and actually represents the bell tower.

The square is surrounded by a beautiful green lawn where tourists and university students allow themselves moments of relaxation within a historic setting of rare beauty. The name Piazza dei Miracoli was attributed to him only after the war when Gabriele D’Annunzio in his work “Maybe yes, maybe not” 1910 quotes it: “The Ardea spun in the sky of Christ, on the lawn of the Miracles.”

The work for its construction began in the eleventh century and after several changes ended only in the nineteenth century, when the architect Alessandro Gherardesca gives the square its current appearance.

 

A bit of history

The square begins to take shape in 1064 when the fulcrum of the complex is realized: the Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. It represents the maximum expression of Pisan Romanesque influenced at the same time by different stylistic elements. At that time Pisa was a Maritime Republic (XI-XV), the sailors were traveling in the Arab world, being impressed by its beauty.

A few years later the expansion of the walls began (the church was initially not included) and the construction of the Baptistery (1152): it was placed in front of the Cathedral with a diameter equal to the façade of the latter. About 20 years later, work will also begin on the Campanile or the “Tower of Pisa” and in 1277 on those for the Campo Santo. Before the Florentine siege in the fifteenth century, we entered the square through the Porta del Leone, then closed by the Florentines who realized in its place Porta Santa Maria, current access route.
During the Medici-Loreto domination buildings were built around the 4 monuments, then demolished at the end of the nineteenth century thanks to the intervention of the architect Alessandro la Gherardesca who resized the square to give it the structure today.

The latest changes were implemented during the Fascist era: the monument Lupa di Roma was added on the lawn north of the bell tower and 17 cypresses east of the square in memory of the militants who died in the war.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta

Emblem of the Pisan Romanesque style, designed by architect Buscheto in 1604, shows through its splendor the influence of different styles and cultures: Byzantine but above all Islamic components testify to the wealth and importance achieved by the Maritime Republic of Pisa at the time; the Pisan sailors during their travels in the Middle East and North Africa could admire beauties characteristic of different worlds impossible to ignore.

Pay attention to the columns inside the Duomo, they will certainly remind you of those typical of mosques!

Despite the fire of 1595 inside the Cathedral have been preserved works including:

– Apsidal mosaic with St. John the Evangelist (1302) by Cimabue – simply beautiful!

– The Pulpit (pictured here) or Pergamo masterpiece by Giovanni Pisano (1302-1310)

– Reliefs made by Gianbologna students

– Works by Beccafumi and Andrea del Sarto in the presbytery area.

The Baptistery

The works for the construction of the Baptistery, the largest in Italy, began in 1152 under the directives of the architect Diotislavi, the structure positioned in front of the Cathedral, was completely revisited by Nicola Pisano with his son Giovanni around the middle of the thirteenth century; the two modified it in Gothic style and added a loggia and a hemispherical dome.

At the center of the Baptistery is the Baptismal Font by Guido Bigarelli from Arogno, initially illuminated by a light coming from an opening on the ceiling, now covered by the Dome.

The Pulpit by Nicola Pisano (1255-1260) tells scenes of the Life of Christ on the 5 panels, while the columns represent the Virtues. We can clearly perceive a classical style in the work, not by chance Nicola Pisano is defined as a precursor of the Renaissance.

The Pisa’s tower

The beginning of the works for the Tower of Pisa dates back to 1173, its slope, a reason in part of its world fame, is due to the underlying territory not perpendicular and subject to continuous subsidence, the main cause of the interruptions of work during the different eras.

In 1275 the tower was enlarged with another 3 floors, while the bell cell was added in about 1350. 55 meters high, has a gradient of 5 ° to the south, to get up to the bell tower must climb 294 steps. The various floors have galleries and arches except the last where there are 7 bells. The tower was closed to the public from 1990 to 2001, due to stability problems.

The Camposanto

Campo Santo is an ancient monumental cemetery located north of Piazza dei Miracoli. Started in 1277 by the architect Giovanni di Simone, it has a rectangular structure with a cloister in gothic arches. As tradition tells us, the structure was built around a large amount of the Holy Land from the place where Jesus was crucified.

In the lawn in the center of the cloister there are many sarcophagi and tombs of Roman origin, used for the burial of men prestigious, while in the floor of the corridor we find tombs of Pisan nobles. Here you can admire many works of art such as: the Pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, the Lamp by Galileo Galilei, frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli, by Buonamico Buffalmacco with the famous “The Triumph of Death”, the Tabernacle by Della Robbia and more ..

The city offers as many splendid monuments, churches and museums to visit, but believe me Piazza dei Miracoli alone represents a reason to go to Pisa. The beauties preserved in the square are numerous, you will need an indoor day to discover them all, what are you waiting for?

 

This post is also available in: Italiano Inglés Francés