The city of Pisa is known for its spectacular leaning tower and not much else. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who could name another tourist attraction in the city. Pisa is an incredible place that has more to offer than a simple photo opt. Here are some of the best things to see in the city.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Standing in the shadow of the city’s famous tower, lies the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. This magnificent piece of architecture was built in the 11th-century complete with marble arches and opulent bronze doors. Inside, visitors will see find a stunning ceiling fresco showing the Assumption of Mary.
Also located near the Leaning Tower, the Baptistery came before the tower. The Baptistery does tilt as well, but it is much less notable than the tower. This building is dedicated to John the Baptist and displays the artistic works of famous sculptors Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. Currently, the Baptistery is often the sight of musical performances due to its excellent acoustics.
Pisa’s highly acclaimed museum can be found near the banks of the Arno River. The structure houses the original sculptures of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the nearby Baptistery. They also have paintings and artifacts dating back to the 12th-century and beyond.
Santa Maria della Spina
This quaint little church may be small, but its beauty is beyond expectations. The 13th-century structure is built in the Gothic style with rose windows throughout the building. The entire church was dismantled in 1871 due to foundation issues and then rebuilt exactly how it was before. Santa Maria della Spina is also home to a thorn from the crown of thorns worn by Jesus during his crucifixion.
Unlike the Leaning Tower, the Guelph Tower stretches towards the sky without any impediment. The original building was erected between the 13th and 14th-century, but it became part of the city’s defenses sometime in the 15th-century. Now, the tower is open to the public, welcoming them to its uppermost level for wonderful views of the river and surrounding city.
University of Pisa Botanical Gardens
Originally built by the Medici family in the 16th-century, the botanical gardens are said to be the oldest in the country. Visitors will find an expansive array of flowers, trees, ponds, greenhouses, and arboretum.
Known as the Sacred Field, Campo Santo is said to have been built when Archbishop Ubaldo dei Lanfranchi returned from the Fourth Crusade. He brought back soil from Golgotha so devoted followers could be buried on sacred ground. The large cloister houses the remains of various Pisa citizens and surrounds a meticulously maintained courtyard.
Basilica Romanica di San Piero a Grado
Basilica Romanica di San Piero a Grado is located where the city’s old port was. It is also rumored to be the spot where St. Peter first landed in Italy in 44 A.D. During later excavation efforts inside the basilica, Roman ruins were discovered along, with remnants of an ancient Christian church.
Keith Haring Mural
Keith Haring was a popular American artist known for his graffiti-style art. When he visited Pisa in 1989, the city hired him to create a mural on the exterior wall of the Church of Sant’Antonio. His creation is called Tuttomondo and is supposed to represent the different aspects of peace that exist in the world. The mural was Haring’s last piece of public art before his death the following year.
- Pisa Attractions [Planet Ware]
- 15 Things To Do in Pisa [The Crazy Tourist]
- The Baptistery [Love From Tuscany]
- Keth Haring Mural [Visit Tuscany]
- 20 Must-See Attractions in Pisa [The Culture Trip]
- Feature Picture [Max Pixel]