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History Of The Square Of Miracles - The Leaning Tower Of Pisa

Updated on June 19, 2013
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Driving towards the Leaning Tower of PisaOne of the entrances into the Leaning Tower and CathedralThe whole piazza
Driving towards the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Driving towards the Leaning Tower of Pisa | Source
One of the entrances into the Leaning Tower and Cathedral
One of the entrances into the Leaning Tower and Cathedral | Source
The whole piazza
The whole piazza | Source

The Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) is one of the most picturesque squares in Italy.

This incredible Piazza is famous for it's four parts. There is The Duomo (Cathedral), the Baptistery, The Bell Tower (Leaning Tower of Pisa), The Campo Santo (monumental cemetery) and the Spedale Nuovo di Santo Spirito (New Hospital of Holy Spirit) which now is host to the Museum of Sinopias. To see these buildings all together when you walk into the Piazza is just amazing.

There are several entrances into the Square of Miracles. Every time we went, we went the same way. We found this nice, enclosed, paid parking area that was only about two blocks from the Walled entrance. When you walk through the arches the view is amazing. The Baptistery is first, then the Duomo, followed by the Leaning Tower. The Piazza doesn't close and is open year around. We even got to experience some snow (which was very rare for this area).

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The open galleries with statues of Madonna with Child and the Four EvangelistsThe Baptistry, the Cathedral and the Leaning TowerThe Bronze DoorVery intricate detailThe Pisa GriffinView of the Cathedral and Baptistry from the top of the Leaning TowerThe back side entrance of the Cathedral
The open galleries with statues of Madonna with Child and the Four Evangelists
The open galleries with statues of Madonna with Child and the Four Evangelists | Source
The Baptistry, the Cathedral and the Leaning Tower
The Baptistry, the Cathedral and the Leaning Tower | Source
The Bronze Door
The Bronze Door | Source
Very intricate detail
Very intricate detail | Source
The Pisa Griffin
The Pisa Griffin | Source
View of the Cathedral and Baptistry from the top of the Leaning Tower
View of the Cathedral and Baptistry from the top of the Leaning Tower | Source
The back side entrance of the Cathedral
The back side entrance of the Cathedral | Source

The Duomo (Cathedral)

The Duomo (Cathedral) is a magnificent medieval cathedral that is dedicated to St. Mary of the Assumption and is the oldest of the structures in the Piazza. The construction of the Duomo began in 1064 and set the model for the distinctive style of architecture.

The outside of the Cathedral is made of grey marble with a white stone set. Discs of colored marble also help add character to the exterior of the Cathedral. There are three main doors into the cathedral. The center one was made of bronze around 1180, while the other two were probably made in wood. Today, the huge doors are made of bronze. Above the doors are four rows of open galleries with statues of Madonna with Child and the Four evangelists on the four corners. There is also a modern replica of the Pisa Griffin on a high column rising from the gable at the east end of the exterior.

The Cathedral contains many great works of art. The most breathtaking is the elaborate carved pulpit by Nicola Pisano. The pulpit was designed in the Gothic Siena Cathedral style. There are several tombs in the Cathedral, including the tomb of St. Ranieri, the patron saint of the city and patron saint of travelers. There are mosaics in the interior as well and most are Byzantine in origin. A beautiful mosaic of Christ in Majesty with St. John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary on either side is in the apse, and is similar to the mosaics in the Monreale Cathedral in Sicily.

The Baptistry
The Baptistry | Source

The Baptistery

The Baptistery is dedicated to St. John the Baptist and stands on the opposite west end of the Duomo. This Baptistery is the largest in all of Italy.

The doorway into the Baptistry is flanked by two classical columns, while the inner jambs are executed in Byzantine style. It is divided into two tiers. The lower one depicts several episodes in the life of St. John the Baptist, while the upper one shows Christ between the Madonna and St. John the Baptist, flanked by angels and the evangelists.

The interior of the Baptistery is surprisingly plain and lacks decoration but that does not take away from the immensity of the interior. There are also amazing acoustics inside.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Leaning TowerA bell at the top of the Leaning TowerAnother bell at the top of the Leaning TowerLooking out over the Piazza dei Miracoli from the top of the Leaning TowerFirst Picture of the Leaning Tower
The Leaning Tower
The Leaning Tower | Source
A bell at the top of the Leaning Tower
A bell at the top of the Leaning Tower | Source
Another bell at the top of the Leaning Tower
Another bell at the top of the Leaning Tower | Source
Looking out over the Piazza dei Miracoli from the top of the Leaning Tower
Looking out over the Piazza dei Miracoli from the top of the Leaning Tower | Source
First Picture of the Leaning Tower
First Picture of the Leaning Tower | Source

The Leaning Tower

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the actual bell tower to the Duomo di Pisa (Cathedral of Pisa). The construction was started in 1174 by Pisano. Pisano had built it to it's third story when he stopped building because the tower had started sinking into the ground. It took 2 more stages and another 177 years to finish building the Bell Tower.

Because all that marble is too heavy for the sandy soil to support, the tower started tilting right away. When builders tried to correct the tilt during construction, they inadvertently gave it a slight banana-like curve. Engineers determined in 1990 that the tower's slant made it too dangerous to hold visitors. Officials closed the tower, wrapped steel bands around it to keep the masonry from falling apart, stacked ugly lead weights on one side, and dug out around it to try and correct the lean by a few feet. The tower was closed to visitors for over a decade, but various drastic measures in the 1990s helped reverse the lean, and now it is open for visitors to climb again.

Guided visits to the tower last about 30 minutes long and are limited to 30 people each tour. To purchase tickets in advance from TickItaly it would cost 22.50 Euro and you have to give them a certain time limit that you will be there. Children under the age of 8 are NOT allowed to go into the tower.

When visiting the Square of Miracles you are able to purchase tickets for each building seperately or all at once. It does cost to go into each building in the Square. We went into the Cathedral, Baptistery, Museum and up the Leaning Tower. Each visit we made to Pisa we spent a lot of time in the square watching the tourists and enjoying the scenery. It is quite comical to sit and watch the tourists taking the famous "holding the tower up" photos and seeing the creativity of what others can come up with. There is grass where many people sit and enjoy the day, although signs say to stay off the grass. We had to do our own little tourist photo (we of course got the holding up of the tower as well) and the souvineers at the open air markets they had all around Pisa. It is definately a magical place!

You can't leave Pisa without taking one of the famous tourist pictures, we added a little flair to ours!
You can't leave Pisa without taking one of the famous tourist pictures, we added a little flair to ours! | Source

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    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR

      CassyLu1981 

      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      Sunshine625 - I'm glad your daughter had a great Italian summer :) The tourist photos of holding the tower up are always priceless. Our foot stomp photo was my favorite too :) Thanks for stopping by and the comment!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      My daughter was in Italy this summer and she has a photo of her trying to push the tower into a standing position, it's too cool. She had a wonderful time there. Your hub is very interesting and useful for anyone planning a vaca to visit the tower. I like the foot stomp photo!!

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR

      CassyLu1981 

      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      leahlefler - We had to do something original :) It was fun to get this shot as it was hard to control the three kids and be down on the ground while he is trying to balance on one foot LOL you should have been there :) I have found that all the baptistries and Cathedrals in Italy are amazingly beautiful. Thanks for stopping by and the comment :)

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      7 years ago from Western New York

      I got a real chuckle out of that last picture - what a great place to visit. The baptistry is absolutely beautiful and the cathedrals are stunning!

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR

      CassyLu1981 

      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      teaches12345 - Every time we went to Pisa we had an incredible time. I'm glad you enjoyed it as well :) Thanks for the comment!!!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      It appears that you had a really great trip here. I enjoyed the tour and the photo posts. Great share on the history of the venues and how to best enjoy the visits.

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR

      CassyLu1981 

      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      tillsontitan - I'm very greatful that I have gotten to see many places I know a lot of people will never see. It makes sharing my experiances so much more worth it :) Thanks for the votes and the comment!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      I am always so happy to read hubs about places I will probably never get to see though I would like to. This was a great hub with lovely pictures...of course the last one is the best ;)

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR

      CassyLu1981 

      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      watergeek - I know, I couldn't imagine seeing those cords wrapped around it trying to hold it up. Priceless :) Thanks for the comment!

    • watergeek profile image

      Susette Horspool 

      7 years ago from Pasadena CA

      Funny story about the tower. I can just see builders panicking about the thing falling over. ;-) Looks like you had an enjoyable trip, Cassy.

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR

      CassyLu1981 

      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      Mhatter99 - I'm glad you enjoyed my tour :) The final picture is of course my favorite!!!!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this awesome tour. Your final picture is priceless!

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