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.
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.