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Pisa Cathedral Square (World Heritage)

The Leaning Tower (Campanile) on the Domplatz is not only the symbol of the city, but also one of the most famous buildings in the world. The 55 m high tower, begun in the 12th century, deviates by more than 4 m from the vertical. In addition to the Leaning Tower, the entire Cathedral Square with the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Baptistery and the Camposanto Monumentale are part of the World Heritage. According to commit4fitness, the facade of the cathedral is a gem of Italian Romanesque.

Pisa Cathedral Square: Facts

Official title: Pisa Cathedral Square
Cultural monument: Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) with the campanile, the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” on the south side 55.65 m and on the north side 55.8 m high, about 4 m from the vertical, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Baptistery (Baptistery) and the cemetery (Camposanto)
Continent: Europe
Country: Italy, Tuscany
Location: Pisa
Appointment: 1987
Meaning: four masterpieces of medieval architecture that had a lasting impact on Italian architecture from the 11th to 14th centuries

Pisa Cathedral Square: History

89 BC Chr. City rights for the Roman-Etruscan Pisae
1063 Construction of the Romanesque cathedral begins
1173 Start of construction of the campanile
12./13. Century under the Ghibellines Pisa as a dominant sea power in the western Mediterranean
1260 Completion of the pulpit by Nicola Pisano
1275 Completion of the campanile
1302 Mosaic in the apse dome
around 1340 in the corridor of the Camposanto fresco “The Triumph of Death”
1398-1405 Rule of the Visconti
1406 Rule of Florence and the Medici
1564 Birth of Galileo Galilei
1990 Closure of the campanile
1992-2001 Securing the foundation of the campanile
Dec 2001 Reopening of the campanile

Acropolis of the Middle Ages

Pisa Cathedral puzzles art historians. 1063 is the year the foundation stone was laid on the facade, but the marble vision in the green meadow appears too weightless, too radiant, too perfect for the »dark Middle Ages«. Is the incorporation date wrong?

The expert doubts fill volumes. Renaissance – that is the rebirth of European culture “from the spirit of antiquity” in the 15th century. Jacob Burckhardt, a major researcher of this era, also finds the Pisan »Campo dei Miracoli«, the »wonder field«, so captivating that he counts it as part of the pre-Renaissance period. What motivates Clara Baracchini, head of the preservation of monuments in the Arno city, to the heretical statement that Pisa leads the history of art ad absurdum: »With us there was no Middle Ages and no renaissance because the umbilical cord to antiquity has never been torn off. The cathedral is the fruit of this continuity. ”

The Pisans built it in order – as one reads in the inscriptions – “to renew the glory of Rome”. More than piety spurred the bourgeois self-confidence to the »Acropolis on the outskirts«. The first phase of construction of the cathedral, it says on the facade, was financed with treasures from the plundered Palermo. The glorious griffin on the roof ridge – the original is now in the Museo del Duomo – is a booty from the North African Fatimid Empire.

Much blood flowed in the “dialogue” with the Arabs, but the culture benefited. The Middle Ages were fond of traveling, and the architect Buscheto, the ingenious switchman on the »Miracle Field«, was probably inspired by Byzantium and the mosques of Damascus, Cairo and Córdoba. Because the exotic oval dome comes from the Bosporus, the rows of columns of the five aisles and three transepts, including the matrones reserved for women, incorporate the oriental principle of infinity. This connection between east and west makes the Pisan church in its rational rigor cosmopolitan and ecumenical. Jewish and Muslim monotheism also feel at home in Buscheto’s temple.

The ancient world is obstetrician and mentality. The basilica shape of the cathedral, the cylinder of the baptistery – a collage of the Roman mausoleum and the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem – and also the epic relief stories of Nicola Pisano in the baptistery pulpit are »neo-antique«. The west-east encounter, however, creates vibrations. As contemporaries, Buscheto and his successors Rainaldo and Diotisalvi use Romanesque round and Gothic pointed arches only as decorative set pieces. The horizontal Arabic black and white stripes tie the cathedral’s mother ship to the ground. In the apse with which construction began, Buscheto’s leitmotif “sounds” for the first time: blind arches on the ground floor and the arcades above. The trinity of wall, column, arch with its light-shadow effects lifts what is physically important.

After a long interruption in construction, the Pisans gave the cylinder of the baptistery, the baptistery, a cone at a high altitude. The cemetery, called »Camposanto«, filled with Golgotha ​​earth, uses the sky as a nave with its surrounding halls of fame and frescoes. The campanile, consisting of a compact inner cylinder and the »outer shell« supported by columns, is more than a bell tower. In its misalignment, it tempts those standing below and climbers to strive ring by ring from earth to heaven. Like Stonehenge and the pyramids, Pisa also has a cosmic relationship: the baptistery lies on the longitudinal axis of the cathedral, the tower in the center between the baptistery and the bishop’s palace. »You instinctively feel that the buildings were not placed by chance, but according to a principle of harmony.

Pisa Cathedral Square