The wonderful Piazza dei Miracoli, also known as the Square of Miracles in Pisa is likely one of the most famous landmarks in the world. The square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, is not located in the city center as you might imagine, but it is situated northwest of the fortified wall of the city. The the Square of Miracles has been considered central to religious life since the Etruscan time: the three structures that it comprises, symbolize the main stages of a human’s life: The Baptistery represents birth, the Cathedral life and the Cemetery, of course, alludes to death.
And what about the Tower of Pisa? Well, we have not forgotten it! The so-called Leaning Tower is actually part of the Cathedral, being its Bell Tower.
The square is surrounded by a beautiful green lawn where tourists and students can lie down and relax in this historical setting of rare beauty. The name “Square of Miracles” was given only after the First World War , when the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio in the last novel “Maybe, maybe not” credits it with these words: “The Ardea rotated over the sky of Christ, over the meadow of Miracles”.
Its building began in the XI century and, after various changes, it was completed only in the XIX century, when the architect Alessandro Gherardesca gave the square its final present appearance. The latest changes have been done in the Fascist era: the monument Lupa di Rome was built and 17 cypress were planted, in memory of the militants died during the War.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Emblem of the Pisan Romanesque, designed by the architect Bruscheto in 1604, the Cathedral represents through its splendor the influence of different styles and cultures. Byzantine and Islamic components testify the richness of the Maritime Republic of Pisa in the past; pay attention to the columns in the Cathedral and you will certainly remember those typical of the mosques.
Despite the fire of 1956, in the Cathedral are preserved many important works of art, including a mosaic by Cimabue, a masterpiece of Giovanni Pisano and works of Beccafumi and Andrea del Sarto.
The works for the construction of the Baptistery, which is the largest in Italy, began in 1152 under the direction of the architect Diotislavi. Positioned in front of the Cathedral, it was entirely revisited by Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni in the mid XIII century. They both modified it following the Gothic style and added a loggia and a hemispherical dome. At the center of the Baptistery there is the baptismal font by Guido Bigarelli from Arogno, originally lit by a light coming from an opening in the ceiling, now covered by the Dome. The Pulpit by Nicola Pisano (1255-1260) recounts scenes from the Life of Christ on five panels, while the columns represent the Virtues. We can clearly perceive a classical style in the work, not surprisingly Nicola Pisano is entitled a precursor of the Renaissance.
The Leaning Tower
The beginning of the construction of the Tower dates back to 1173 and its slope is due to the land where it was built, which is not perpendicular and subject to constant failures. 55 meters high, it has a slope of 5° south and to reach the top you have to climb 294 steps. The tower was closed to public from 1990 to 2001 due to stability problems.
The Camposanto is an ancient monumental cemetery located north of the Square of Miracles. It has a rectangular structure with an inner cloister in Gothic arches. Following the tradition, the cemetery was built around a good quantity of Holy Land, coming from the place where Jesus Crist was crucified. In the meadow at the center of the cloister there are numerous tombs and sarcophagi of the Roman age, while in the floor of the corridor there are the tombs of the nobles families of Pisa. Here you can admire many works of art including the Pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, the lamp of Galileo Galilei, frescoes by Benozzo, Gozzoli, Buonamico Buffalmacco with the famous “The Triumph of Death”, the Tabernacle of Della Robbia and many others.
The city offers many beautiful monuments, churches and museums to visit, but the Square of Miracles itself is worth travelling to Pisa. The beauties preserved in the square are numerous, you’ll need a day to discover them all inside. So, what are you waiting for?