The mysteries of the icon of Italy, the Tower of Pisa

Pisa’s Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Cathedral of Pisa is the main ornament of Piazza dei Miracoli . Everyone knows about the Leaning Tower of Pisa and wants to see it. But when you find yourself in Piazza della Wonderland in Pisa, the tower takes second place to the Cathedral of Pisa.

Last time we talked about Piazza della Wonderland itself (where it is, how to get there, opening hours and ticket prices), but now let’s take a closer look at the Duomo.

The history of the cathedral

In 1063, the Pisans conquered Palermo and thoroughly plundered the Arab city and its mosques. And the Venetians in the same year began construction of a new basilica of San Marco . The ambitious Pisans decided to outdo the Venetians and used the plundered wealth in Palermo for the construction of a luxurious cathedral, which began construction a year later, in 1064.

The project of the cathedral was prepared by the architect Busqueto and he led the construction for 36 years. In the cathedral he was buried – his tomb is located immediately at the entrance, by the left door. His work was continued by the architect Reinaldo, who designed the façade. The sculptors Guilielmo and Biduino decorated the façade.

In 1118 the Cathedral, not yet finished, was consecrated in honour of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Santa Maria Assunta).

In 1595, a terrible fire broke out in the cathedral. As a result of repairs and further reconstructions, the interior of the Cathedral was greatly altered.

View of the Cathedral

The facade of the Cathedral of Pisa is divided into two parts. The lower part consists of seven high arches, four of which are deaf, and three have doorways cut into them.

pisa cathedral

The upper part of the facade is decorated with four tiers of colonnades. Thin columns give to the cathedral a sensation of lightness and aspiration upwards. Notice how accurate the proportions are. In neighboring Lucca they tried to do something similar (I mean the Cathedral of San Martino), but the wrong proportions made the building look awkward.

The top of the pediment is topped by a sculpture of St. Mary with the baby Jesus. On the edges stand the Evangelists Matthew (Angel) and John (Eagle).

pisa cathedral pediment

The outlines of the pediment and arches are covered with the finest lace carving and inlaid with multicolored marble.

pisa cathedral pediment

Two tiers below are Luke (the Vol) and Mark (the Lion).

The bronze doors were cast in the early 17th century by craftsmen from Florence. They are divided into panels with bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the Gospel.

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pisa cathedral doors

pisa cathedral doors

pisa cathedral doors

Each such scene is surrounded by ornamentation. Medici coats of arms, allegorical figures are interspersed with leaves, fruits overhang the top, animals are placed below.

pisa cathedral doors

pisa cathedral doors

On either side of the main entrance are tall marble columns decorated with carvings.

pisa cathedral doors

pisa cathedral doors

pisa cathedral doors

Above the doors in impressed semicircles are mosaic images.

pisa cathedral

pesan cathedral mosaic portal

The upper parts of the blind arches are decorated with rhombuses – geometrical figures of green and crimson marble.

The back part of the cathedral of Pisa is protruding to the outside with a semicircular apse.

pisa cathedral

The variety of mosaic patterns

pisa cathedral decor

pisa cathedral mosaic

pisa cathedral decoration

pisa cathedral decoration

The top of the apse is surrounded by a two-tiered colonnade of columns of different colors.

pisa cathedral

pisa cathedral

There, at the back of the cathedral, opposite the Tower of Pisa, is one of the original doors, the so-called San Ranieri, cast in 1180 by the master Bonnano Pisano, which survived the fire of 1595. It, too, is divided into fragments – “frames” from the life of Christ.

pisa cathedral doors

pisa cathedral

Above the apse on a column is the figure of a strange animal, a hippogriff, a half-horse-half-griffin. It is a military trophy captured by the Pisans from the Arabs.

pisa cathedral hippogriff

pisa cathedral hippogriff

From the height of the Tower of Pisa the form of the Duomo in the form of a Latin cross is clearly visible.

pisa cathedral

The cross on the dome

pisa cathedral cross on dome

A staircase leading to the top of the dome

pisa cathedral

The dome is surrounded by elegant gables

pisa cathedral

Geometric patterns along the transept.

pisa cathedral

pisa cathedral apsis

The interiors of the cathedral of Pisa

The cathedral is light and tall. The central space is divided by rows of columns into five naves.

The gray granite columns on either side of the main aisle once stood in a mosque in Palermo.

pisa cathedral

The floor is decorated with Cosmati drawings (mid-12th century)

pisa cathedral floor

pisa cathedral floor

Coffered gilded ceiling.

pisa cathedral ceiling

In the apse is a mosaic depiction of Christ with the Virgin Mary and John the Theologian. The mosaic survived the fire. Cimabue was involved in its creation in 1302 (the face of John).

pisa cathedral altar image mosaic

Angel with a candle

pisa cathedral interiors

On the left is a magnificent pulpit, created by Giovanni Pisano in 1302-1310. It, fortunately, was also spared by fire. The pulpit stands on eight columns. Its bas-reliefs depict episodes from the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The episodes are separated from each other by figures of prophets and sibyls.

pisa cathedral pulpit

pisa cathedral pulpit

pisa cathedral interiors

At the top, the women’s gallery stretches along the central nave. The frescoes in the upper part of the cathedral depict scenes from the Old Testament.

pisa cathedral interiors

On surfaces unoccupied by any other beauty, bands of dark marble alternate with light ones. The Pisans picked up this technique from Arabian mosques. The alternation of dark and light strips had the effect of multiplying the space (just think of the mosque in Cordoba). Subsequently, the technique was adopted by the whole of Tuscany.

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The transept is divided into three naves.

pisa cathedral interiors

One of the most valuable icons of the Cathedral of Pisa is the 13th-century Madonna di sotto gli organi (Madonna under the organs).

pisa cathedral icon

After examining the Cathedral of Pisa in detail, look around on your way out.

Look at the tense rhythm of the arches above the apse. It seems that they are about to burst open.

pisa cathedral photo

And how the door above the upper arch draws the eye!

pisa cathedral photo

I hope the cathedral of Pisa impressed you. They didn’t outdo the Venetians, but they certainly created a masterpiece. However, if we measure squares, the Piazza dei Miracoli of Pisa stands on equal footing with the Piazza San Marco of Venice.

What’s inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and why it still hasn’t fallen down

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The Tower of Pisa is a famous structure that almost everyone knows about, even those who have never seen it in person. But there are a number of interesting facts, unfamiliar to most people, especially if they have not personally visited this place and not been inside the structure. That is, many people know that it “falls”, but in what direction? Or what is inside it?

1. The classic version of the long construction.

The first funds for the construction of the Tower of Pisa were allocated in 1172, at its very beginning, by a local resident, the widow Berta di Bernardo / Photo: alterra.cc

The first funds for the construction of the Tower of Pisa were allocated in 1172, at its very beginning, by a local resident, the widow Berta di Bernardo / Photo: alterra.cc

Indeed, the Tower of Pisa belongs to this category of structures, as it was built for two hundred years. It is only accurate to say that the first funds for the construction of this facility were allocated in 1172, at its very beginning, by a local resident, the widow Berta di Bernardo. Her donation amounted to sixty silver coins. The inscription has survived to this day. It was made on the first stone laid in the construction. As for the start of the construction work, it began in 1173, in August.

In fact, construction on today’s Piazza dei Miracoli or “Square of Miracles” began in 1064, which is when the cathedral began to be built / Photo: twitter.com

In fact, construction on today’s Piazza dei Miracoli or “Square of Miracles” began in 1064. It was Guido, the bishop, who initiated the work. Before they began to build the Tower of Pisa, it was a hundred years. Nevertheless, experts believe that he is also its author, or rather the author of the idea of building this object, because supposedly the tower was supposed to be a bell tower.

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2. What is known about the architects of the Tower of Pisa?

It is believed that Bonanno Pisano started it all, and the construction of the eighth floor, where the bells are located, was already engaged by Tommaso Pisano / Photo: bigskiesjewellery.wordpress.com

It is believed that Bonanno Pisano started everything, and the construction of the eighth floor, where the bells are located, was already engaged by Tommaso Pisano / Photo: bigskiesjewellery.wordpress.com

In this matter, too, there is no clarity. It is believed that Bonanno Pisano started it all, and the construction of the eighth floor, where the bells are located, was already engaged by Tommaso Pisano. Apart from them there were other architects, for example, Nicola Pisano, who erected the baptistery (the name of the place intended for baptism) in the immediate vicinity. In principle, nothing surprising, because two hundred years of work is not two years. Naturally, the architects could not help but change.

According to the information in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, Pisano is not a surname of specific people. It was the nickname of several Italian architects and sculptors. Wikipedia, on the other hand, states that the nickname was given to several medieval artisans and artists from Pisa. If these facts are to be believed, almost everyone who worked on the construction of the structure can be given this name.

3. a few facts about the “square of wonders” and the tower of Pisa

The square, which today is known as the “Square of Miracles”, has not always had such an unusual name / Photo: puteshestvyie.ru

The square, which today is known as the “Square of Miracles,” was not always with such an unusual name. Until 1910, when it was named by Gabriele d’Annunzio, the Italian poet and writer, it was known simply as Cathedral Square. It was a marketing ploy of sorts, which everyone took advantage of. It was then that both the place itself and the architecture began to gain popularity and world fame.

Of course, about the construction of the cathedral no one has any questions, but the fact that they have decided to build a bell tower so high by the standards of the time, questions and a lot / Photo: sanuk-sabai.com.ua

Of course, about the construction of the cathedral no one has any questions, but the fact that they have decided also to build such a high by the standards of that time bell tower, questions and a lot / photo: sanuk-sabai.com.ua

Of course, about the construction of the cathedral no one has any questions. But the fact that they decided to build a bell tower so high by the standards of that time raises a lot of questions. By the way, about the height of the construction. Now it is not a record, but at that time the building height of 56.7 m was impressive. Experts argue that in this way they decided to publicize themselves, to attract attention. At that time, Pisa was a flourishing city-state. And such a tower was a good proof of wealth and grandeur.

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Originally, the idea of the Leaning Tower of Pisa “falling” was not, it was supposed to be an ordinary straight construction / Photo: fishki.net

Now about the fact that the Leaning Tower of Pisa is “falling. There was no such idea. It was supposed to be an ordinary straight structure. As for its slope, there is a version that the builders, making calculations before pouring the foundation, made a mistake. It could be, because the construction was atypical for that time. It is not surprising, but that only ten years after the construction began, and the construction reached the third floor, people realized that something was wrong. The angle of inclination was four or five centimeters.

Only ten years later, after the construction work had begun, and the structure was raised to the third floor, did people realize that something had gone wrong / Photo: cattur.ru

Only ten years after construction work had begun and the structure was built to the third floor level, they realized that something had gone wrong / Photo: cattur.ru

It turns out the following picture. The tower was built in 1173, and in 1183 the third floor was built. Then they found those five centimeters and the construction was abandoned, but not completely, so to say “frozen” until 1272 (other sources indicate 1275). Well, and at the end of the century builders quietly continued their work. Nobody stole or destroyed anything. Here stands such an unfinished construction, which should please locals, near the cathedral, and okay.

And again it took several decades to move from the dead point. During the period from 1272 to 1319 four more stories were completed (it ended up to seven). Workers, in order to somehow correct the earlier “shoals”, began to “pull” the floors above the third floor. On the side in which the tower was leaning, the ceilings were made higher. The result was unpredictable. The tower not only tilted, but also took the shape of a banana.

As a result of such actions the slope was no less than 90 centimeters / Photo: forums.sketchup.com

As a result of such actions the slope was no less than 90 centimeters / Photo: forums.sketchup.com

This resulted in a gradient of no less than 90 centimeters. Having finished the seventh floor, the builders once again abandoned everything. Now in a “frozen” state the structure has stood for more than fifty years. The bells in the bell tower were installed later.

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It is believed that the construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa was completed in 1372, when the eighth floor, which is called the Campanile, was built and it is here where the bells are located / Photo: littletravel.ru

It is believed that the construction of the Tower of Pisa was completed in 1372, when they built the eighth floor, which is called the campanile, and that is where the bells are / Photo: littletravel.ru

It is believed that the Tower of Pisa was completed in 1372, when the eighth floor was erected. This tier is called the Campanile and it is here where the bells are located. The floor here is horizontal and completely flat. Nowadays it also looks the same, although the tower kept leaning more and more, and the marble was cracking. That’s when they decided to urgently save the architectural monument.

At the end of the last century the Italians have invested 25 million euros in the work, during which some parts of the columns have been replaced and many other measures have been taken / Photo: esosedi.livejournal.com

At the end of the last century, the Italians have invested 25 million euros in the work, during the works have replaced some parts of the columns and have taken many other measures / Photo: esosedi.livejournal.com

At the end of the last century, the Italians had invested 25 million euros. Some parts of the columns were replaced and many other measures were taken. They even wanted to remove some soil from the side where the tower began to lean. As an experiment, a second foundation was poured next to the tower.

The tower itself weighs 14,453 tons, and the counterweight of lead weight is 900 tons / Photo: kopahi.com

In addition, a counterweight was also installed. The tower itself weighs 14,453 tons, and the lead weight is 900 tons. It was located on the outside of the tower, on the side opposite to that into which it slopes. The cable from this load was attached to the top of the structure, in the center. Over time it was removed (I mean the weight).

4. what’s inside.

The Tower of Pisa itself has absolutely no rooms, it is a kind of “pipe” with spiral stairs, as well as a system of counterweights and ties / Photo: wowitaly.ru

In the Tower of Pisa itself there are absolutely no rooms, rooms. It is a kind of “pipe” with spiral staircases, as well as a system of counterweights and ties. The latter made it possible to slightly level out the tilt. It is said to be decreasing even now, little by little.

The stairs come in a serpentine form, with gallery exits made on all floors / Photo: wikiway.com

The stairs are placed as it were between the walls. At the entrance there is a narrow passageway with steps. The stairs are in the form of a serpentine. All the floors have gallery exits. As it goes up, its width gets smaller. At its highest point it is only forty centimeters.

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