Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa – The Square of Miracles – is known worldwide thanks to its landmark, the Leaning Tower. A minor miracle on its own, the famous leaning tower is one of four buildings in this exquisitely elegant and stylistically consistent complex.
Prior to some massive restoration work which finished in 2001, the Pisa tower leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees. It still leans almost 4 degrees, and with a height of about 56 metres it looks like it is barely able to stand. The origin of the tower is dated to 1173 and it was completed about 200 years later. The tower started to sink and tilt in 1178, after the construction of the second floor had started, mainly due to the shallow foundation of only three meters set in soft and unsteady soil.
The tower is an integral component of the impressive totality of Piazza dei Miracoli, the Square of Miracles.
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The Baptistry of St. John – Battistero di San Giovanni – was built between 1152 and 1363. It is the largest baptistry in Italy, 54.86 m high, with a circumference of 107.24 m. The Baptistry is a prime example of the transition from the Romanesque style to the Gothic style: the lower section is built in the Romanesque style, with rounded arches, while the upper sections with the pointed arches are in the Gothic style.
In the 12th century Ubaldo de’ Lanfranchi, the archbishop of Pisa, brought back a shipload of sacred soil from Golgotha. The cemetery is said to have been built on this soil, giving it the name “Campo Santo” or “The Holy Field”. The building was the fourth and last one to be raised in the Square of Miracles. Construction of this oblong Gothic cloister was begun in 1278 but only completed almost two centuries later, in 1464. It was heavily damaged by a grenade on July 27th 1944. The elegant beauty of the building and its harmonious place in the quartet of monuments on Piazza dei Miracoli is there for all to see.
The Duomo, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta (St. Mary of the Assumption), lies naturally at the heart of Piazza dei Miracoli. It was begun in 1064 and set the model for the distinctive Pisan Romanesque style of architecture. The mosaics of the interior show a strong Byzantine influence. The façade in grey marble and white stone are set with discs of coloured marble. The massive bronze main doors were made in the workshop of the famous sculptor and artist Giambologna. (Source: Wikipedia)