Should You visit the Field of Miracles in Pisa?

the Field of Miracles, Pisa
the Field of Miracles, Pisa

This is one of those places that you’ll either love or hate. There’s no in-between. If you can disregard the tacky souvenir stalls and shady guys trying to sell you fake handbags or fake African souvenirs and focus just on the mind-blowing architecture of this place you’ll be fine. Otherwise you might go away feeling disappointed and bitter that you wasted your time/money on something that looks better in the photos than in the real life. But that’s the harsh reality of many famous landmarks around the world nowadays. But let’s get back to the basics.

Pisa was a powerful merchant/naval republic in the Middle Ages. Its rise to the power happened before Florence became the major player in Tuscany. When you’ve got loads of money, you have to flaunt it, right? So the people of Pisa decided to built something extraordinary to show off their wealth and hence the magnificent Piazza dei Miracoli.

Piazza dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site site near the center of Pisa and as the name says it’s a rather large field with 4 magnificent edifices. There’s the Baptistery (the first building you can see on the field), the Cathedral, the Leaning Tower and the Monumental Cemetery (Camposanto). There are also two museums: the Sinopias Museum (Museo delle Sinopie) and the Cathedral Museum (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo). The name Piazza dei Miracoli wasn’t given at the time of the construction of the entire site but it’s a rather recent invention. An Italian poet Gabriele d’Annunzio named it as such at the beginning of the 20th century.

the Baptistery 

Baptistery at the Field of Miracles, Pisa

It’s dedicated to St.John the Baptist and it’s the largest baptistery in Italy. It’s also one of the oldest since it’s construction began in the mid 12th century. As all the other buildings of the Field of Miracles, the baptistery is built in Pisan Romanesque style but it’s got some Gothic elements such as the dome. Its pulpit was sculpted by Nicola Pisano and dated 1260 which is considered to be the beginning of the Italian Renaissance.

This is the only building that I’ve only seen from the outside. I wasn’t that interested to pay an entry fee.

the Cathedral

Cathedral at the Field of Miracles, Pisa

It’s dedicated to St. Mary of the Assumption. Its construction began in the 11th century. There are several Byzantine elements to its Pisan Romanesque style of architecture. Many notable masters and artists worked on the cathedral. The bones of Pisa’s patron saint St.Ranieri are in the cathedral as well as the tomb of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII and the Pope Gregory VIII.

Cathedral’s interior is very beautiful and definitely worth a visit. I was lucky and got in for free because it was some religious holiday.


the Leaning Tower

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

at the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
the view of the Field of Miracles from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Probably the most famous tower in  the world The Leaning Tower of Pisa is just a church tower (campanile or freestanding bell tower). Its construction began in 1173 and lasted for almost 200 years. It was believed to have been built by Bonnano Pisano but newer studies name a different architect. The tower began to tilt during its construction phase because the ground under it is too soft to support the tower’s weight. Over the time the tilt increased until the tower was stabilized in the late 20th and early 21th century. The tower is almost 60 m high and it leans 4 degrees now.

Of course, you’ll take your photo with the Leaning Tower as if you’re holding it up or pushing it over. 🙂  But should you pay the expensive ticket to climb it? In my opinion it’s not really worth it. I’ve done it and I wasn’t as pleased with the view from the top as I was from the other towers in Tuscany (e.g Giotto’s tower in Florence and the tower in Siena). There are 296 steps to the top of the Tower. The climb itself isn’t a big deal. At the top you get a pretty view of the other buildings of the Field of Miracles but you don’t get a nice view of Pisa. Also, your visit only lasts 30 mins which includes going up and down. I paid 15 euros when I visited it in 2011. It’s even more expensive now.


the Monumental Cemetery

Monumental Cemetery, the Field of Miracles, Pisa

It’s a walled cemetery that was supposedly built on the sacred soil from Calvary brought to Pisa by the crusaders. The building of this Gothic cloister like edifice began in the 13th century but it was only finished in the 15th century.  There are tombs and Roman sculptures and sarcophagi. The walls were once covered in stunning frescoes but they were destroyed by Allied bombs in WWII.

Unlike other places on the Field of Miracles this one was crowd free and there was even a sense of peace and tranquility within its ancient walls. I definitely recommend to visit it.

Should you visit the Field of Miracles in Pisa? No! And Yes!

Why No? If you’re staying in Florence and want to do one or two day trips (or half-day trips) then choose Siena or Lucca or do a wine tour or visit the olive oil farm rather than going to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Why Yes? Because it’s stunning! You only need 2 hours to see everything at the Field of Miracles. My advice is to see the town of Pisa as well. Actually, I was at the Field of Miracles twice but that’s another story:) Once is more than enough, I should have used the other visit to see Pisa properly.

So have you been to Pisa? What do you think about the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

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55 thoughts

  1. This is a really useful post, Tanja. It’s true that some really iconic sites are so touristy that they seem spoiled. I would like to see the Leaning Tower one day though. #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Surely it’s a must-see when in Pisa. I’ve never been actually but should be able to pay it a visit next year. The baptistery is stunning and, of course, the leaning tower has to be seen! #farawayfiles

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’d love to go to Pisa one day! I think the Baptistry looks so beautiful. I would definitely make time to do a day trip here is I was staying close by. #farawayfiles

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post Tanja! I think visiting the Field of Miracles is definitely something you have to do once if you can. The buildings are incredible despite the crowds. We had a great day there when my kids were just 18 months. They were running around on the lawn in front of the tower being silly and then we went for a delicious family lunch. Great family travel memories! #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve never been to Pisa, but I’d like to one day. I guess I never realized there are so many other places to visit nearby as they’re not mentioned nearly as much are they? Thanks for cluing me in here on #farawayfiles

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It looks like an amazing place to visit! I will visit one day, I have my 2018 trips planned… kind of. I mean .. sometimes I accidentally add an extra trip or two 🙂 Seriously though, what a dream place to visit! Have a great weekend my friend,

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am making plans for our Mediterranean cruise and will only have a short time in this area. I chose to do the 9.5 hr. excursion which gives us 4 hrs. in Florence and 1 hr. in Pisa. I just had to see the Leaning Tower since we were going to be so close to it. I may never be in this area again! Loved your post and pictures. It was so helpful in planning our time in Pisa. Your post made me feel very confident about our decision to choose the excursion with only 1 hr. in Pisa and more time in Florence. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I think this place is worth a visit if time is taken to actually explore like you did. When I visited, it was a stop to take pictures. So, my visit was not that impressive. #wanderfulwednesday

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I have visited the Field of Miracles few years ago, but couldn’t say I like it, nor I hate it.. so I wasn’t inspired enough to do a post about. You’re are right, one visit should be enough LOL I didn’t have a chance to climb the tower though, since the first slot available was in late afternoon, and decided it was not worth the wait. The walk around was nice, lots of people picnicking across the fields. I was pleasantly surprised how well maintained the buildings were, even though so many tourists! Nice pictures🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. We actually did a stopover in Pisa on the way from Cinque Terre to Florence! We just stored our luggage, walked down there, saw the sites, and went on to Florence. Last year, we were flying out of Pisa to head back to the US, so we stored our luggage at the airport, took the bus back, and enjoyed lunch in the city before heading back for our flight. Both great ways to see enough. (The detail on the structures are really beautiful.)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Pisa is somewhere I’ve never visited – and apart from the leaning tower, I didn’t know a great deal about it. I can imagine the tourist frenzy around there in high season especially. But it was really interesting to read what else there is to see in the area and a great overview to decide whether it’s worth it – for now, I think Florence will win out if I have a choice! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I never really knew what to make of Pisa, as it seemed like such a tourist trap. But your article is actually really insightful about what it is and what it isn’t. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

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