Things to Do in Pisa
Perhaps one of the world's most beloved architectural mistakes, the Leaning Tower of Pisa's inimitable tilt has made the UNESCO World Heritage site an Italian icon. Travelers flock to snap photos of themselves “holding up” the tilted tower—originally intended as a bell tower for Pisa Cathedral—although you can also ascend the 294-step spiral staircase for stunning views over Pisa.
Visitors flock to Pisa’s famous leaning tower, which is part of a magnificent cathedral complex centered around the 17th-century Duomo and adjacent baptistery. A splendid example of Pisan Romanesque architecture, the Duomo’s original and renovated elements include a splendid apse mosaic, ornate pulpit, golden coffered ceiling, and more.
One of the most famous sights in all of Tuscany—perhaps all of Italy—stands in the Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa. This grassy expanse is home to the city’s cathedral complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the Duomo, Monumental Cemetery, and Opera del Duomo Museum. The headliner, however, is the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Pisa’s Leaning Tower may be more famous, but the nearby baptistery (battistero) is equally captivating. Clad in white marble with intricately carved rows of Romanesque and Gothic arches and a cupcake dome, the baptistery is one of the essential sights in the city’s UNESCO-listed cathedral (duomo) complex.
Pisa’s most famous attraction may be its Leaning Tower, but for centuries its heart was Knights’ Square (Piazza dei Cavalieri), remodeled by the architect Vasari in the 16th century into a classic example of Renaissance civic planning. Today, the square is home to Pisa’s university in the medieval center.
Italy is home to some of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, including the Monumental Cemetery of Pisa (Camposanto Monumentale). Part of the UNESCO-listed cathedral complex, this Gothic cloister features intricate marble arches encircling a central courtyard, 14th-century frescoes, chapels, and rows of Roman sarcophagi.
Pisa’s exquisite Church of Santa Maria della Spina (Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina) is covered in intricate and fanciful stonework, a hallmark of the 14th-century Pisan Gothic style. With its fairytale exterior and magnificent Madonna of the Rose by Andrea and Nino Pisano inside, this church is a tiny gem and the perfect foil to the grandeur of the city’s Duomo.
The Church of San Sisto (Chiesa di San Sisto) is one of the oldest in Pisa, and its simple stone facade is an excellent example of early Pisan-Romanesque architecture. Contrast this modest masterpiece with another of Pisa's attractions, the ornate Gothic Duomo, by taking a guided tour of both.
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