Pisa Churches and Cathedrals
(Pisa, Tuscany, Italy)
Religion has long played an important part of life in Tuscany, and in the city of Pisa, the religious buildings have added a huge amount of character to the city.
At the heart of the city's much-visited Field of Miracles (Piazza dei Miracoli) is the parent of the Leaning Tower itself, the Cattedrale (Cathedral), which also goes by the name of Il Duomo di Pisa and is accompanied by the Battisero.
Building work on the Duomo commenced in the middle of the 11th century and it was this elaborate Romanesque-style architecture that really set the tone for so much of Pisa. The simple design incorporates a huge quantity of coloured marble, with the cathedral boasting five naves, giant bronze doors, mosaics, a gilded ceiling and various religious statues. Visitors enter via the Porta di San Ranieri doorway, opposite the Leaning Tower.
Especially close by and on the Piazza Arcivescovado, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo houses many of the actual sculptures and treasures originating from the cathedral itself, including art works created by famous Italian sculptors such as both Giovanni Pisano (1250 to 1315) and Nicola Pisano (1220 to 1284).
Cattedrale - Il Duomo di Pisa
Address: Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, Italy
Tel: +39 (0)50 560 547
Standing in the very heart of the Piazza del Duomo, this magnificent medieval cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta (translated as St. Mary of the Assumption).
Following considerable fire damage at the very end of the 16th century, the Pisa cathedral was quickly renovated and restored, with its destroyed art works being replaced by top Italian Renaissance artists from that period. Particular attractions include the famed Pisano pulpit, which was interestingly uncovered in a crate in the 1920s, being reassembled and returned to its former setting soon afterwards. The 1315 tomb of Emperor Henry VII by Tino da Camaino, the bronze angels located directly above the choir entrance and the Christ Pancrator mosaics from the 13th century are all further highlights, as are the frescoes decorating the Duomo's iconic dome.
Open hours: April to September, daily - 08:00 to 20:00, March and October, daily - 09:00 to 18:00
November to February - Monday to Saturday 07:45 to 13:00 and 15:00 to 17:00, Sunday 07:45 to 13:00 and 15:00 to 18:00
Other churches in Pisa include:
- Santa Maria della Spina - a 13th-century chapel that was renamed after it became the shrine of a thorn (spina) which, according to legend, belonged to the crown of thorns once worn by Jesus
- Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri - built in 1565, with a marble facade and a beautiful baroque Main Altar
- San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno - also known as the Duomo Vecchio (old cathedral), this ancient church has undergone many transformations since it was first built over 1,200 years ago
- San Francesco - constructed between 1230 and 1270, its marble facade was completed in 1603
- San Michele in Borgo - built on the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to Mars, on a small square in Borgo Stretto
- San Nicola - this church has been part of the monastery of the Augustinian Canons since 1295
- Santo Sepolcro - probably the most characteristic church in town, built for the Templar Knights in the 12th century
- Santa Caterina - the lower part of the marble facade is a beautiful example of the Pisan-Romanesque style of this 700 year-old religious building
- San Zeno - Benedictine church built during the 10th and 11th centuries, located at the old city's East Gate
- San Martino - built in 1332, the lateral walls and apse are made of simple red bricks, with small arcs adorned with 14th-century majolicas
- San Frediano - constructed in the early 12th century, the austere facade is built in both marble and brick