Piazza del Duomo, Pisa

The Pisa Baptistry, Cathedral and Leaning Tower (Adrien Sifre/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

City and Province of Pisa, Tuscany
N43 43 23 E10 23 47
Date of Inscription: 1987
Minor boundary modification inscribed year: 2007
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iv)(vi)
Property : 8.87 ha
Buffer zone: 254 ha
Ref: 395bis
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Standing in a large green expanse, Piazza del Duomo houses a group of monuments known the world over. These four masterpieces of medieval architecture – the cathedral, the baptistry, the campanile (the ‘Leaning Tower’) and the cemetery – had a great influence on monumental art in Italy from the 11th to the 14th century.

Piazza del Duomo houses a group of monuments known throughout the world. Standing in a large green expanse, enclosed by the city walls, the former Ospedale della Misericordia and the Palazzo dell’Arcivescovato, the Piazza del Duomo at Pisa comprises one of the most renowned constructed landscapes in the world. The four masterpieces of medieval architecture – the cathedral, the baptistery, the bell tower (the ‘Leaning Tower’) and the cemetery – were erected between the 11th and 14th centuries within close proximity of each other, forming a unique cluster of monuments. A striking quality pervades the site, emanating from the interplay of marble and mosaics, the usual alliance of bare walls and arched galleries, triangular frontons and heavy cupolas with the whole effect heightened by the breath-taking slant of the bell tower.

The square is remarkable since it contains works of art that bear witness to the creative spirit of the 14th century. Its monuments reflect such a decisive stage in the history of medieval architecture that they have become a reference point for studies related to the Pisan Romanesque style. The Camposanto and its cycle of frescoes, with particular typology and use, constitute an outstanding example for the history of Italian medieval painting of the 14th and 15th centuries.

Criterion (i): Artistically unique because of its spatial design, the Piazza del Duomo contains four absolute architectural masterpieces: the cathedral, the baptistery, the bell tower and the Campo Santo. Within these monuments are such world-renowned art treasures as the bronze doors and mosaics of the cathedral, the pulpits in the baptistery and cathedral, the frescoes of the Campo Santo, and many others.

Criterion (ii): The monuments of the Piazza del Duomo considerably influenced the development of architecture and monumental arts at two different times in history. First, from the 11th century up to 1284, during the epitome of Pisa’s prosperity, a new type of church characterized by the refinement of polychrome architecture and the use of loggias was established. The Pisan style that first appeared with the Cathedral can be found elsewhere in Tuscany (notably at Lucca and Pistoia), but also within the Pisan maritime territory, as shown in more humble form by the “pieve” in Sardegna and Corsica. Later, during the 14th century, architecture in Tuscany was dominated by the monumental style of Giovanni Pisano (who sculpted the pulpit of the Cathedral between 1302 and 1311), a new era of pictorial art – the Trecento – was ushered in after the epidemic of the Black Death (Triumph of Death, a fresco by Bonamico Buffalmacco at the Campo Santo, c. 1350).

Criterion (iv): The group of monuments of the Piazza del Duomo, composed of typical religious buildings constructed for distinct and specific functions, constitutes an outstanding example of medieval Christian architecture.

Criterion (vi): It was at the Cathedral of Pisa that Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), observing the oscillations of the bronze chandelier created by Battista Lorenzi, discovered at the age of 19 the theory of isochronism of small oscillations, a prelude to his pioneering work on dynamics. From the top of the campanile, he conducted experiments, which led him to formulate the laws governing falling bodies. Two of the principal buildings of the Piazza dei Miracoli are thus directly and tangibly associated with a decisive stage in the history of physical sciences.

Suggested Bases:

Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Italy, best known for its world-famous leaning tower. But the tower isn’t the only thing to see – there are other architectural and artistic marvels in this beautiful city. The half-hour walk from the Campo dei Miracoli to the train station runs through a pedestrian street with many interesting sights, shops, and restaurants. The best way to visit Pisa is walking the streets, as the city centre is small and cosy, and enjoying the sight and the atmosphere. Pisa would not be Pisa without the university. The city is animated by the students, who organize parties, shows, and cultural events, and fill the central street of the city at night. The University of Pisa has 60,000 students in a city of 90,000 inhabitants (200,000 in the metropolitan area). You’ll notice the student flair in the city once you leave the touristy Campo dei Miracoli. The climate of Pisa is something in between the one in the north and in the south of Italy [read more].

Florence (Italian: Firenze) is the capital of the region of Tuscany in Italy, with a population of about 366,500. The city is a cultural, artistic and architectural gem, and is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence was the home to powerful families, creative geniuses and scientific masterminds who left their legacies in the city’s many museums and art galleries. The city also has a very rich literary history, being the birthplace of the famous poet Dante, and standard Italian today is primarily based on the dialect of Tuscan spoken in Florence. The Duomo, officially Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, is the fourth largest church in Europe, with the biggest brickwork dome in the world Politically, economically, and culturally, Florence was the most important city in Europe for around 250 years, from some time before 1300 until the early 1500s. Florentines reinvented money, in the form of the gold florin [read more].

Genoa (Italian: Genova, Ligurian: Zena) is a historic port city in northern Italy, the capital of the Liguria region. As a tourist attraction, is often overshadowed by cities such as Rome or Venice, even though it has a long history as a rich and powerful trade centre. However, with its multitude of hidden gems behind cozy alleyways, excellent cuisine (notably fish and seafood), renovated old port, beautiful sights (including one of Europe’s biggest aquariums), and its position as the European Capital of Culture in 2004, the birthplace of explorer Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo) is an enticing place which is gradually becoming more included in the touristic market. With unusual typical slate-roofed houses, artistic churches, lovely seaside villas, and several luxurious boutiques, Genoa is a must-see if you want to experience the quintessential Italy. The busy city port, filled to the brim with yachts, boats, cruises, ferries and cargo ships. Genoa is a very important sea town in the Mediterranean [read more].

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