Pisa is a mystery city. Historians still argue about its origin, art historians are trying to open the veil over the secrets of erecting world-famous architectural monuments. But so far, Miracle Square, where the Leaning Tower of Pisa is located, does not reveal all its secrets. One thing is obvious: it was from this architectural ensemble, entered back in 1987 on the UNESCO World Heritage List, that the Italian Renaissance began.
10th century pirates
In the X-XI centuries, Pisa, then still having free access to the Tyrrhenian Sea along the Arno River, was one of the richest cities in the Old World. Moreover, the origin of her wealth is associated not only with a favorable geographical location, but also with successful sea raids on Mediterranean cities. Roughly speaking, the Pisans traded in piracy, including the slave trade, and were not afraid of anything.
To get to the Square of Miracles you have to walk a little
Nothing but the eternal torment of hell, so eloquently described in the writings of the fathers of the church and the sermons of the priests, that these "pictures" were constantly before the eyes of even the most inveterate atheists. And it does not matter whether they were born of the sinner’s inflamed imagination or captured by unknown artists on the frescoes of the first Christian temples, those who had some money had a real opportunity to repent and receive at least a temporary remission of sins. It was enough to donate a certain amount in favor of the church or for the construction of the temple - and again set off in search of adventure.
True, campaigns on cities under the control of the Gentiles, in that era, as you know, were quite a godly deed. In 1063, after a particularly successful raid on Palermo, which had not yet been occupied by the Normans, the Pisans brought several marble Corinthian columns from the main mosque of the city. The columns immediately found use: one of the poorest neighborhoods on the outskirts of Pisa was completely demolished, and in its place - the very one where is the leaning tower of pisa, in the Square of Miracles (Piazza dei Miracoli) in 1064, the construction of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Assumption of Our Lady) began.
The construction of the cathedral continued for two centuries
Thanks to numerous donations, the church, of course, had money for such a large-scale construction. Here came the first organized crusades. One of the most active participants was precisely the Pisans, who subsequently received exceptional privileges for trade with the East.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and other wonders in the square
The construction of the cathedral continued for two centuries. Several styles were bizarrely mixed in its architecture: Romanesque, Byzantine, Spanish and Arabic (Pisa also successfully fought with the Moors). The pearl of the temple is the marble department of the beginning of the XIV century with many sculptures by Giovanni Pisano. But this is not the figures of people and animals that were not frozen in unnatural poses, characteristic of many sculptural images of that time. In the artist's works, one can clearly see the orientation to the best antique samples, and not to the static Byzantine style that prevailed at that time. In other words, the sculptures adorning the department can be easily attributed to the Proto-Renaissance.
The marble department of the beginning of the XIV century - the pearl of the Cathedral
However, the history of the Renaissance is customary to begin with the earlier works of Niccolo Pisano, father of Giovanni. To find them, just take a few steps and enter Baptistery. Its construction began in 1152 and also continued for two centuries. The sculptures of Niccolo Pisano adorn the Department of the Baptistery. The plots of the compositions are traditional - “Christmas”, “Adoration of the Magi”, “Bringing to the Temple”, but the figures were given an additional volume, quite unconventional for that time, and their poses resemble the poses of ancient Roman statues.
But before inspecting the sculptures, you should pay attention to the unique mosaic floor, the patterns of which resemble ornaments in the Alhambra. The acoustics in the Baptistery are also unique. To demonstrate it in the room, a chorister appears every hour and takes three notes in a row, which under the arches of the building merge into a single chord.
The department of the Baptistery is decorated with sculptures by Niccolo Pisano
From their campaigns, the devout Pisans brought not only looted treasures. From the Fourth Crusade to the city for the construction of a cemetery for noble Pisans, sacred land was brought from Calvary. The opinions of historians differ here: according to one source, it was only a small capsule, according to others - as many as 50 ships. Anyway, but Miracles Square acquired another miracle - the necropolis of Camposanto (translated from Italian - "holy field"), that is, located literally in the holy land.
The cemetery is a closed cloister - a covered gallery framing a quadrangular courtyard. Under the arches of the gallery are unique marble tombstones, each of which is a separate work of art, and sculptures of famous natives of the city, in particular, the famous mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci.
Camposanto Gallery has unique marble tombstones
Camposanto - the only monument that was famous for the bombing of World War II, which is famous for the Square of Miracles. The frescoes suffered the most, and among them the work of the famous Florentine artist and joker of the beginning of the 14th century, Buffalmacco. True, the plot of the fresco is rather gloomy - "The Triumph of Death." Currently, this work is almost completely restored from the sketches and drawings made in the XIX century.
Leaning Tower of Pisa and how to find it
Either the curses of the poor peasants robbed by the Pisans reached heaven, or the Pisans themselves did not donate hard enough to build temples, but most of the medieval monuments of the city stand on their foundations, to put it mildly, not quite evenly. Including the Baptistery, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, and buildings outside the Square of Miracles. The leader in tilt, of course, Leaning Tower of Pisa.
However, there is a completely rational explanation for this, confirmed by numerous studies and reconstructions. The fact is that the Arno River, so treacherously changing its channel in the middle of the 13th century, has a rather extensive network of underground tributaries. Unstable soil and predetermined instability of the foundations of buildings.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a cathedral bell tower that is separate from the main church.
About what constitutes and where is the leaning tower of pisaBlogoItaliano already wrote in a separate article here. But this monument is so interesting and popular that it is impossible not to mention it again, speaking of Pisa. Moreover, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is almost a symbol of the city and one of the business cards of all of Italy.
Its construction began in 1173, that is, almost immediately after the Baptistery and even before the appearance of the Camposanto cemetery on the Piazza dei Miracole. Leaning Tower of Pisa - This is not just one of the decorations of the square, but the cathedral bell tower. The tradition of building campaigns, i.e. bell towers that are separate from the main temple, is generally one of the features of medieval Italian architecture. This whim is explained simply: when building campaigns, Italians were guided by the experience of Muslims who built the minaret separately from the mosque. The resonance from the voice of the muezzin, not to mention the Christian bell ringing, could, in view of the imperfection of the designs at that time, bring down the temple at any moment.
How could the Leaning Tower of Pisa not finally fall due to resonance? And this is another of the mysteries with which the Square of Miracles is rich. But, most likely, the point is the greater strength of the vertical structure, and not the problems with the foundation. After the next restoration since 2001, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, along with other monuments in the Square of Miracles, is again open for visitors.
Everyone can climb the observation deck of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, except for children under 8
Anyone who has bought a ticket can climb the spiral staircase 53 m above the ground in three hundred steps, except for children under 8 years of age. Tickets are sold here on Miracle Square. But if you can save on visiting other buildings (the more monuments to be visited, the cheaper), then this number will not work with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. To get inside it, you have to buy separate tickets even for children.
To the question of where is the leaning tower of pisa, the answer seems to be logical - in Pisa. But not so simple. The tower itself is located 20 meters east of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta - this is so. A lot of signs lead to it already at the entrance to the city, from the railway station and from the airport - this is also true. But the Square of Miracles itself is practically inaccessible if you go by car or public transport. You will have to leave the bus or car salon for a while and walk along the narrow streets, but the general view of the marble architectural complex on the huge green lawn is worth it.
Useful links about Pisa:
- Leaning Tower of Pisa and other sights of Pisa
- Hotels in Pisa near Leaning Tower
- Tuscany: 6 most interesting places in the region
Photos by: Camera Slayer, Michel Guilly, Hellebardius, Arnold van Wijk, Casi Contreras Gerber, Bob Hall, Eric Parker, Jim Shannon.