Though many people believe that Pisa is just another word in the expression the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it’s not really like that. Pisa is one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany, full of history and culture, and a strong rival, in terms of beauty, for other Tuscan cities like Florence, Siena, Lucca or Arezzo.
Originally an Etruscan village, Pisa experienced wonderful times in the Early Middle Ages, being one of the powers that disputed control over the Mediterranean Sea, alongside Genoa, Venice and Amalfi. Also, during the Florentine domination, the city fluorished, and many impressive monuments date back to those times.
The most interesting attractions of the city are concentrated in two areas – Piazza dei Miracoli and Piazza dei Cavalieri, but some can also be found on the banks of the Arno river. And the Leaning Tower may be the most important tourist attraction of the city, but as we will see next, is not the only one.
10. OLD CITADEL
The Old Citadel (Cittadella Vecchia) is a fortress built at the beginning of the 15th century on the Arno river, near the outer wall of the city, to protect the Republican Arsenal, the shipyard of the Maritime Republic of Pisa.
Next to what is left of the Old Citadel, we can find the Guelph Tower (Torre Guelfa), built in the same 15th century, and rebuilt in 1956, after being bombed during the Second World War.
9. PALAZZO BLU
Palazzo Blu (Blue Palace), officially known as Palazzo Giuli Rosselmini Gualandi, is a palace built in the 15th century by the Doge Giovanni Dell’Agnello. The palace was painted with the characteristic blue color in the 18th century, in honor of the Russian patronage of the Empress Catherine II of Russia.
Today, the palace is a museum hosting temporary exhibitions and cultural activities, managed by the Fondazione Palazzo Blu.
8. CHURCH OF SAN PAOLO A RIPA D’ARNO
The Church of San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno, built in the 10th century, is listed among the masterpieces of the Pisan Romanesque.
Its beautiful facade, designed in the 12th century, but completed in the 14th century probably by Giovanni Pisano, has pilasters, blind arches, marble inlays and three orders of loggias in the upper part.
7. CHURCH OF SANTO STEFANO DEI CAVALIERI
The Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri was built in the 16th century by Cosimo I de’ Medici, for the Order of the Knights of Saint Stephen, founded by the Grand Duke to combat Saracen piracy in the Mediterranean.
Its facade in white Carrara marble, designed by Don Giovanni de’ Medici, stepson of Cosimo I, is characterized by two orders with columns, pilasters, an arch in the middle and a tympanum with the coat of arms of the Medici and the Order of Santo Stefano.
6. CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA DELLA SPINA
The Church of Santa Maria della Spina was built in the 13th century by the Gualandi family and was restored one century later by the architect Andrea Pisano and his son, Nino.
The church, an extraordinary example of Pisan Gothic style, has an exterior characterized by cusps, tympanums, tabernacles, together with complex sculptural structures such as inlays, rosettes and statues.
5. PALAZZO DELLA CAROVANA
Palazzo della Carovana, known also as Palazzo dei Cavalieri, is a palace with a beautiful facade built in the Knights’ Square between 1562 and 1564 by the architect Giorgio Vasari, at the behest of Cosimo I de’ Medici.
The palace was once the headquarter of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen, but since 1846 it houses the Scuola Normale Superiore, created by Napoleon Bonaparte.
4. CAMPOSANTO MONUMENTALE
Camposanto Monumentale, also known as Campo Santo (Holy Field), is an ancient cemetery built in the 13th century, the fourth and last edifice erected in the Piazza dei Miracoli, after the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Baptistery of St. John and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Its outer wall is composed of 43 blind arches, with two doorways. The inner court is surrounded by elaborate round arches with slender mullions.
3. BAPTISTERY OF SAN GIOVANNI
The largest baptistery in Italy and also in the world, the Baptistery of San Giovanni is one of the monuments of the Piazza dei Miracoli, built around the middle of the 12th century in front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
The Baptistery was built in Romanesque style by the architect Diotisalvi, who was also recently credited with the construction of the Tower of Pisa.
2. CATHEDRAL OF SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is a masterpiece of the Romanesque style, built between 1064 and 1118 in Piazza dei Miracoli, in Pisa.
The exterior of the church is decorated in alternating grey and white stripes. The facade, decorated with colored marble inserts, was built by the architect Rainaldo in the first half of the 12th century.
1. LEANING TOWER OF PISA
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the most recognizable symbols of Italy, is famous around the world due to its unintended tilt. The Leaning Tower is actually the bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, located nearby.
The tower, with a height of 57 meters and a mass of 14,453 tons, was built between 1173 and the middle of the 14th century.