PIAZZA DEI MIRACOLI
THE MONUMENTAL CEMETERY
The Cimitero Monumentale(Monumental Cemetery or Holy Field) is the last building in Piazza dei Miracoli. All the monuments placed in this extent and gorgeous square were built like an allegory of Jesus life: the Baptistery symbolizes His Birth; the Duomo (Cathedral) signifies His Life; the Cemetery represents His Passion and Burial, while the Bell Tower is both the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin and the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The white huge rectangular cemetery lies at the northern side of the square. It looks like a theatre wing standing in the Piazza ideally linked to the Duomo di Santa Maria and to the Baptistery.
As indicates in the inscription close to the right gate, its construction was started in 1277 by the prestigious Pisan architect Giovanni di Simone, who conducted the work until his death occurred in 1284. It is to be presumed that the architect was engaged in the famous Battle of Meloria, which was fought against the Republic of Genoa at those times.
After a long halt, the Holy Field was completed in the second half of the 14th century.
The outer wall assembles forty-three blind arches. There are two entrance doors and the main one is located to the right. It is topped by a beautiful Gothic niche enclosing a 14th century “Madonna con Bambino e Santi” attributed to a follower of the celebrate sculptor Andrea Pisano.
According to the tradition the land covering the Holy Site was took up from the Mount Golgotha and brought back to the city at the times of the Fourth Crusade (1201-1204) in which the potent fleet of the Republic of Pisa participated.
The impressive cemetery encloses ancient Roman sarcophagi which were reused in the Middle Ages. They were formerly positioned along the outdoors of the Duomo and were employed to give Christian burial to illustrious Pisan citizens. It also hosts a significant collection of Roman sculptures.
Until July 27th 1944 the walls of the large four-arcaded cloister were entirely ornamented by outstanding series of frescoes, mainly painted by some of the most illustrious Italian artists who were active in the 14th century. Unfortunately, the frescoes were damaged by the Allied bombardments and the subsequent duels between the German and the American artilleries. After the war, the frescoes were taken off of the wall and restored in part.
Among the frescoes which could be saved make stand out: the superb “Triumph of Death”, “The Last Judgement” and “Lives of the Saint Hermits” by the talented Florentine painter Buonamico di Cristofano (1273 ca.- 1351, who was nicknamed “Buffalmacco” by Boccaccio in his novels). The walls covering the southern wing were frescoed by such eminent artist as: Taddeo Gaddi ( 1300- 1366 ca.) with “The Life of Job” ; Andrea di Bonaiuto (1343 ca.- 1377) with a cycle depicting scenes from the life of St. Ranieri; Spinello Aretino ( byname of Spinello di Luca Spinelli, 1345- 1410 ca.) with a cycle depicting scenes from the lives of St. Efisio and St. Potito, while the frescoes cycle which was painted in the northern wing, depicting scenes from the Book of Genesis, is attributed to Francesco di Volterra, or to Pietro di Puccio d’Orvieto, both of them active in the 14th century.
After a long halt, the conclusion of the ornamentation of the northern wing was entrusted around 1469 to the Tuscan brilliant artist Benozzo Gozzoli (1421 ca-1497) who terminated it in 1484 ca. He painted twenty-four amazing frescoes depicting scenes from different books of the Old Testament. Unfortunately, the most part of Gozzoli’s frescoes was lost during the IIWW. Some fragments could be saved and they are currently hosted in the adjacent “Museo delle Sinopie”, housed in the former “Ospedale di Santa Chiara” (1257). As the Cemetery it was designed by Giovanni di Simone.
It is a highly interesting museum displaying also many original sketches from the frescoes which covered the walls of the Cemetery’s cloister before the disaster caused in the city of Pisa almost ten months before the ending of the IIWW in Italy. The museum also shows in depth how the composition process of frescoes paintings (sinopie) is.
In 1987, the Holy Field, as well as the entire Piazza dei Miracoli, was declared World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
The Cimetero Monumentale opens daily. From November to February: from 10am to 4:30pm. March and October: 9am to 5:30pm. From April to September: from 8am to 7:30pm.
The admission ticket is cumulative with other monuments placed in Piazza dei Miracoli.
Visit also in Details:
Piazza dei Miracoli -Piazza dei Cavalieri -Pisa Baptistery - The leaning Tower - Pisa
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