When people think of Pisa they usually think of the Leaning Tower, but Pisa has many interesting sights and attractions. While the highlight of a visit are the Campo dei Miracoli Romanesque monuments, by getting away from the tourist crowds you'll find other interesting things to see also.
Pisa's Top Sights and Attractions:
- Piazza del Duomo or Campo dei Miracoli, Field of Miracles, holds the main attractions of Pisa, one of Europe's greatest groups of Romanesque buildings. The key buildings trace life's path for medieval people from birth to death. The piazza was built outside the main city center but within the still-preserved city walls built in 1155.
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of Europe's most famous towers. Construction on the tower started in 1173 but wasn't finished until the late fourteenth century. The cylindrical tower, 56 meters tall, has eight stories, six of them with open galleries. Inside the spiral staircase has 294 steps leading to the top of the tower.
- The Duomo, or cathedral, is an imposing white building dating from 1063. The facade, constructed in the twelfth century, has four tiers of open galleries housing statues and decorated with marble inlay. The doors have bronze panels with bas-reliefs from the sixteenth century. Inside there are a sixteenth-century wood ceiling, several important art works, and a magnificent marble pulpit.
- The Battistero or Baptistery is a round white-marble building. Construction started in 1152 and was completed in the late fourteenth century with the addition of an eight-sided cupola. The pulpit, supported by lions resting on columns, is decorated with scenes from the life of Christ. Also inside are some impressive statues, originally from the outside.
- Camposanto was the cemetery for noble citizens of Pisa. The floor is covered with tombstones and there are many funerary monuments. The portico held many medieval frescoes which were damaged during WWII and removed for restoration.
- Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, at the eastern end of Piazza del Duomo, holds a huge collection of important artworks from these buildings.
- Museo Nazionale di San Matteo is in the former Benedictine convent of San Matteo. The museum chronicles the development of medieval Christian painting and sculpture in Europe.
- Piazza dei Cavalieri was the center of Pisa in its days as a republic and was remodeled in the sixteenth century, becoming the symbol of Medici power in Pisa. The square has some magnificent sixteenth-century buildings, the church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, and the Palazzo dell'Orologio (clock building) with two ancient towers joined by an arcade.
- Santa Maria della Spina is a picturesque little church near the river. It has charming spires and high niches with beautiful statues.
- Pisa's Botanical Garden is one of the oldest in Europe.
- For an in-depth suggested walking itinerary from the train station taking in some lesser known sights in Pisa, see A Pisa Walk.
- Many people take a day trip to Pisa and rush to the leaning tower and Duomo. Here's a short video on Wandering Italy about how to get from Pisa train station to Piazza dei Miracoli to see the leaning tower and cathedral.