PIAZZA DEI MIRACOLI
It is said that was the famous Italian poet Gabrielle d’Annunzio (Pescara, 1863 – Gardone Riviera (Brescia), 1938) ) who formally entitled “Piazza dei Miracoli” the extensive warm green ground medieval square - known also as “Campo dei Miracoli” (Field of Miracles) - located to the northwest of the town centre where rises the most treasured religious complex situated in the northwest of Italy: the originally called Piazza del Duomo, including the Duomo (Cathedral), the Baptistery, the Campanile (Bell Tower), which is the worldwide famous Leaning Tower, and the Monumental Churchyard.
The four white marble Pisan Romanesque buildings integrating the exceptional religious complex form a combination of architectonical and sculpturing masterpieces, which brightness and stylistic equilibrium remarkably harmonized with the simple nature of the lawn where they were set up in the 11th century.
The massive Romanesque Duomo is located in the hub of Piazza dei Miracoli. Its construction started in 1064, after a design from the brilliant Tuscan architect Bruschetto di Giovanni who supervised the work until his death, occurred in a not documented date.
The façade was concluded in the 13th century. Nevertheless, Pope Gelasio II consecrated the Cathedral in 1118. The Cathedral was devoted to the Holy Virgin. Because of, it is called Duomo di S. Maria.
In 1264 was founded the “Magiscolato”, the early group of “Canonici cantors” who, conducted by the first Duomo’s “Magister scholarum” named Pace, gave splendour with the Gregorian chants to the liturgical celebrations. In 1555, under the name of “Cappella Musicale”, was officially instituted the worldwide famous male choir of the Cathedral of Pisa under the conduction of Francesco Bocchini (1555 -1570). Since 1992 the choir is conducted by the prestigious organist and composer Riccardo Donati (Pisa, 1965).
The construction of both the apse and the façade started around 1130 after the original project by Bruschetto di Giovanni. It is believed that the architect who conducted both works was a well-known Pisan artist of the age called Rainaldo, an advantaged pupil and, subsequently, follower of Bruschetto.
The façade of more than 35 meters wide and 34 meters high, was concluded in the mid of the 13th century, remaining unaltered up today.
It is shaped in five levels of arches. The lower one is formed by seven blind arches, the main portal and two lateral ones, which are separated by columns and pillars. The external walls are ornamented with refined white Carrara marbles.
The portals include rich bronzed sculptured panels which were realized by such celebrated artists like Pierre Francaville (1548-1615), Pietro Tacca (1557-1640), and Francesco Mochi (1580-1654) followers of the illustrious Flemish Mannerist sculptor Giambologna (Italianized name of Jean de Boulogne, Douai (now France) 1529 – Florence, 1608), replacing the former ones from the 12th century by Bonnano Pisano, lost in 1559 as a result of the terrible fire which devastated many artworks hosted in the Cathedral, including the original wooden carved ceiling.
In the blind arch close to the left lateral portal is enclosed the wall sepulchre of Bruschetto di Giovanni. It was constructed in the early 12th century.
The marvellous Duomo, with around 100 meters long and 54 meters high, is designed in Latin-Cruciform. It mainly displays a Romanesque style, but it also presents some elements of different styles - some of them anticipating the Renaissance, while others are bringing to mind architectonical aspects from the Middle East – conferring to the Cathedral a sort of exclusive and inspiring features.
The Latin cross internal structure is ornamented on the top by white and green marble stripes and is divided into one nave and four aisles with arches supported on splendid columns of dissimilar styles, some of them evoking the ones placed in the oriental mosques, crowned by precious carved capitals.
Among the masterpieces hosted in the Cathedral make stand out the sublime Pergamo (pulpit) carried out between 1302 and 1310 by the brilliant Pisan sculptor Giovanni Pisano (1250 ca - 1314 ca) which treasured sculptures on the lower part, symbolizing the Arts and the Theologian Virtues, substituting the supporting parts of the elaborated blind arches which outlined the pulpit.
Nearby the apse is placed the outstanding mosaic by the great Byzantine style painter and mosaics designer Cimabue (nickname of Nenni di Peppo, Florence, 1240 ca – Florence, 1332 ca) representing St. John the Evangelist. In the neighbouring of the Presbytery there is a series of gorgeous paintings by celebrated Tuscan Renaissance-Mannerist artists like Andrea del Sarto (1486- 1531) “Il Beccafumi” (nickname of Domenico Mecarino, 1486-1551), “Il Sodoma” (nickname of Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, 1477-1549 ca) and Giovanni Antonio Sogliani (1492-1544). The transept is ornamented by several beautiful pictures by Italian artists from the 18th century.
The Duomo also hosts the magnificent sepulchre of Arrigo VII (1275 ca-1313) King of the Romans from 1308 to1313 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1312, which was sculpted in 1315 by the illustrious Senese artist Tino da Camaino (1280 ca.- 1337), as well as the embalmed relics of St. Ranieri Scacceri, patron saint of Pisa, who died in 1161.
The Duomo in Pisa opens daily. In winter: from 10 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 5 pm.
In summer: from 10 am to 8 pm. The entrance ticket is 2 euros.
Visit also in Details:
Piazza dei Miracoli -Piazza dei Cavalieri -Pisa Baptistery - The leaning Tower - Pisa
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