When in Tuscany, visiting the small city of Pisa to see the world famous leaning tower (for yourself) makes for a great day out for everyone. This iconic tower has been leaning since it was completed in 1372. This guide gets you from Pisa's train station to the various sights for a nice walking tour of the key monuments. Enjoy!
The tour starts few tens of meters from the Central Station where you will find yourself in a large square with the statue of the king Vittorio Emanuele II. Here, in addition to finding a convenient underground car park and the tourist information office, you can look at the neo-gothic architecture of the post offices and the Province palace.
Continuing on foot towards the centre, you will face a large wall painted on the outside wall of the Church of Sant'Antonio. This is "Tuttomondo", one of the last legends of the US painter Keith Haring who in 1989 created what is now the largest mural in Europe.
Take San't Antonio street and go all the way towards Arno river and almost unexpectedly, in a somewhat unusual position, you will find the small gothic church of Santa Maria della Spina, so called to have guarded from 1333 to the 19th century a crown of the crown of Christ worn at the crucifixion. It is an extraordinary example of the Gothic Pisan.
Then you will arrive at the famous Piazza dei Miracoli (or Campo dei Miracoli), the heart of the city. Visit all the museums / monuments in Campo dei Miracoli is by no means cheap, but thanks to the cumulative tickets, you can save money and come back home without losing anything.
Inserted in a wonderful setting, stands Pisa's tower, a symbol of the city, which with its 4-degree inclination, giving the feeling that it can surrender from one moment to the next ... arouses the interest of thousands of curious tourists which remain yearly ecstatic and fascinated by the singularity and strangeness of one of the most beautiful monuments in the world. The Tower (it is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Piazza del Duomo) was renamed the Leaning Tower. It is a steep tower of about 56 meters tall, built over two centuries, between the twelfth and the fourteenth centuries. The Tower of Pisa, on a clayey and sandy ground, seems to have begun to sink from the edifice of the third floor so that they had to suspend the work and then resume them years later, building the later planes with a bend in the opposite direction to the slope.
Located at the western end of Piazza dei Miracoli, there is the Baptistery dedicated to St. John the Baptist, the largest baptistery in Italy. The founding of the baptistery dates back to 1152, but its construction lasted for over two centuries. The building is known especially for being the cornerstone of the baptism of Galileo Galilei in 1564. Designed and built to remember the first event of Christian life, it is dedicated to St. John the Baptist.
Exit from the baptistery and cross the driveway leading to the center of the square where the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is located. The Cathedral of Pisa is a magnificent cathedral located in a square that takes its name from this splendid monument: Piazza del Duomo. The duomo is the cathedral, its construction dates back to 1064 and is mainly made in a medieval style, although the Romanesque style, the Byzantine, the Lombard-Emilian and even the Islamic are mixed together, since Pisa was one of the famous Maritime republics and this affected the influences of various styles in its architecture.
Even the Monumental Camposanto became a real monument, initially conceived as a cemetery of the cathedral designed to host the burials of the most illustrious Pisans.
After the visit of Campo dei Miracoli, you can continue towards Piazza dei Cavalieri, where all political and administrative activities were located. Piazza dei Cavalieri in Pisa is, after Piazza del Duomo, the most famous square in the city and nowadays it represents the cultural center of Pisa. In ancient times it was the center of civil power, and from the second half of the sixteenth century it became the headquarters of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen, wanted by Grand Duke Cosimo I de 'Medici. Today it is a pole of cultural attraction and study for the presence of the headquarters of the Scuola Normale of Pisa. The church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri was erected on a project by Giorgio Vasari in 1565-68 as a church of the Knights of the Order of St. Stephen. The bell tower, also designed by Vasari, has built from 1570 to 1572. The marble facade was designed by Giovanni de 'Medici in 1602. Here there are many other buildings of undeniable historical and architectural value, such as the Palazzo della Carovana, currently headquartered of the University of Pisa, the Council's Palace of the Twelve and the Palazzo dell’Orologio.
The Botanical Garden of the University of Pisa was born in 1543 for the intuition of the famous doctors and botanist Luca Ghini, and thanks to the funding granted by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de 'Medici. It is the oldest botanical garden in the world.
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