Pisa Cathedral is one of the most beautiful churches, as evidenced by photos and documentaries.
The Pisa Cathedral represents the pinnacle of Pisa’s architectural power at the time of its construction, incorporating elements of Islamic, Byzantine, Lombard-Emilian, and classical architecture.
It gleams in multi-colors as it lies peacefully in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), thanks to the various types of marble adorned, particularly Cosmatesque marble.
When in Pisa, you must see the Pisa Cathedral, also known as the Duomo of Pisa.
Immerse yourself in stunning architecture and artistic treasures, including the renowned Leaning Tower.
Entry to the cathedral is free if you buy the tickets to the Tower of Pisa in advance.
Book your Cattedrale di Pisa tickets now for an unforgettable experience.
Here you will learn everything you need to know about this beautiful church, including its history, most notable features and many more.
Pisa Cathedral Hours
The Pisa Cathedral is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm.
Religious holidays influence visiting hours, which also vary on Sundays.
Before you visit, check the official website for any changes to opening hours, as services and times are posted there.
Best time to visit Pisa Cathedral
Because they are all in the same location, you can visit Pisa Cathedral when you plan to climb Pisa’s Leaning Tower and explore Piazza dei Miracoli as they all in the same location.
If you want to enjoy it with fewer people, go earlier in the day, though it will most likely be busy during the high season (summer).
Another option is to go there near the end of the day when most daytrippers have left.
Pisa Cathedral location
The Pisa Cathedral is 1.7 kilometers (1.05 miles) from Pisa Central Station.
It takes about 20 minutes to walk between the two along the Via Roma.
Alternatively, several buses, including the 875 and 070, connect the train station and the cathedral. Make sure to alight at the Torre 1 bus stop.
They run frequently, take about 10 to 15 minutes to get to the cathedral, and cost €1
One must validate your ticket once on board, which is valid for only one hour.
Pisa Cathedral History
Pisa Cathedral was founded in 1063. Its design and construction were funded by the spoils of war from the Republic of Pisa’s successful war against Saracen.
The Pisan architect Buscheto designed the cathedral using a distinct Pisan Romanesque style extending to the piazza where the cathedral would sit.
Buscheto’s architectural feat incorporated a variety of design elements.
He drew inspiration from the international community that passed through Pisa at the time, incorporating Byzantine, Islamic, Lombard-Emilian, and Classical details into the overall structure.
More than just the republic’s recent windfall prompted the construction of a new cathedral.
St Mark’s Cathedral in Venice had also begun construction at its commissioning.
At the time, there was a fierce rivalry between Italy’s maritime republics, with each competing to build the most lavish church possible.
The location of Pisa’s Cathedral, specifically outside the city’s early Medieval walls, was significant.
It was a prominent display of power, implying that the city-state was unconcerned about being attacked by outside forces.
This cathedral claimed that the land was firmly under Pisa’s control. Surprisingly, the chosen location was once a cemetery of the Lombard Kingdom, which ruled over the area in the sixth century.
Before the church was completed in 1092, it already had its archbishop as Dagobert of Pisa.
Finally, Pope Gelasius II consecrated the church in 1118.
Gelasius was a member of the powerful Caetani family, a noble family with clout in Rome and Pisa.
At the beginning of the 12th century, the cathedral underwent additional construction. Under the direction of architect Reinaldo, this took the form of elongating the nave and adding three bays.
Guglielmo and Biduino, sculptors, were tasked with creating a new facade, which began in the 12th century but was completed in the 13th.
Several restoration campaigns have been carried out over the centuries, each reflecting the different eras in which they occurred.
The most influential structural developments occurred due to a devastating fire in 1595: the cathedral roof had to be replaced.
As part of this project, Giambologna, often called the “last” significant Renaissance sculptor, tasked his workshop with creating three massive bronze doors.
The interior of Pisa Cathedral has also changed dramatically over the years.
In the early 18th century, many artists were enlisted to create masterpieces for the cathedral’s walls.
These depicted tales of Pisa’s saints and were funded by a group of city residents.
The interior was originally designed as a Greek cross with an enormous dome in the center.
Later, the design underwent modifications to resemble a Latin cross, featuring a central nave and aisles on either side.
The international influences on the church’s construction did not end with the facade.
Visitors may notice elements inspired by grand mosques, such as its elliptical dome and alternative black-and-white marble and arches.
These contribute to the space appearing much more extensive.
There is also a strong Byzantine influence, as evidenced by the monolithic granite columns and raised interior galleries.
More structural restoration and modification occurred in the nineteenth century, including removing original statues from the cathedral’s exterior (which were replaced with copies).
Finally, in 1926, Giovanni Pisano’s marble pulpit, which had been removed after the fire in 1595, was reassembled and returned, albeit with a few pieces missing.
Things to remember
- Pisa Cathedral dress code
Despite its popularity as a tourist attraction, Pisa Cathedral is still a place of worship. As a result, visitors are required to dress appropriately.
This includes covering the shoulders, upper legs, knees, and midriffs.
If you’re visiting during the summer, consider wearing loose, long-sleeved tops and trousers, or bring a shawl or light scarf to cover up with before entering.
- Photography permission
Photography is permitted inside Pisa Cathedral during normal visiting hours. Cameras cannot be used when visiting during a mass or ceremony.
There are very few public bathrooms near the Duomo of Pisa that you can use for free – access is restricted to visitors who have already purchased tickets.
There is a public restroom near the church, but depending on the time and day you visit, you may have to wait a long time to use the facilities (this is most common during high season).
Also, many tourists use the restrooms at the nearby restaurants, but you will have to buy something there, such as a soft drink, and may still have to wait in line.
Pisa Cathedral tickets
Pisa Cathedral is free to enter, and you can get your free pass in person at the site.
You should purchase tickets to the other attractions in Piazza dei Miracoli, including tickets to the Duomo of Pisa that are not subject to a fixed time.
The Pisa Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa combination ticket is ideal for people who want to learn more about Pisa’s architectural marvels.
If you want to visit Pisa Cathedral in Italy on a specific date, buying your tickets as far in advance as possible is best.
Ensure you arrive at the Duomo of Pisa on time or early. Otherwise, you may be refused entry.
You can also book a guided tour of the Pisa Cathedral with the Tower of Pisa and admire its excellent architecture.
What to see inside Pisa Cathedral
As you enter and discover the Pisa Cathedral’s amazing architecture, stunning artwork, and rich history, you will come to appreciate its breathtaking beauty.
Pisa Cathedral architecture
With its stunning marble facade and intricate sculptural details, the Pisa Cathedral continues to draw visitors worldwide who seek to admire its beauty.
Before entering this historic cathedral, take some time to appreciate its magnificent facade design.
Four impressive column tiers reach the heavens, creating the illusion of porticoes with intricately carved lintels and high arches influenced by Islamic and southern Italian influences.
Other shapes, such as lozenge-shaped arches, are directly influenced by Armenian structures.
The ornate multicolored marble used in the facade’s construction is one of its most notable features.
Grey and white marble serves as a backdrop for patterns and detailing created by marble inlays in various colors.
The fire in 1595 resulted in the creation of three pairs of heavy bronze doors.
These late 16th-century doors replaced the wooden doors destroyed in the fire (along with much of the cathedral’s interior).
The doors are a fascinating display funded by Ferdinando I de Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany at the time.
The wings of the doors, which attach them to the walls, were cast in 1180 and survived the fire.
Twenty-four bronze reliefs on these depict significant events from the New Testament.
It was one of the first bronze entranceways made in the country during the Middle Ages, and it is considered a pioneer in the world of such entranceways (for example, the Baptistry in Florence).
Look at the three sets of intricately cast doors – you’ll notice some lovely detailing.
The central door depicts Jesus Christ’s immaculate conception and birth, another pair depicts the road to Calvary and the Crucifixion, and the third represents Christ’s Ministry.
Just to the left of the north door is the tomb of the original architect, Buscheto. There are also a few hidden details, such as a rhino.
However, no one would have entered the church through these doors. Instead, Pisans would have passed through the Gate of St Rainarus in the cathedral’s south transept.
Pisa Cathedral interior
The Pisa Cathedral’s interior is a mesmerizing work of art, embellished with minute details, intriguing murals, and a tranquil atmosphere that will astound visitors.
The dome, the ceiling, and the columns
Look up as soon as you enter Pisa Cathedral!
You’ll see an exquisite 17th-century coffered ceiling decorated with gold leaf, carvings and painted in a palette of regal colors.
Domenico and Bartolomeo Atticciati crafted it. In the center of the ceiling, you can find the coat of arms of the Medici family, symbolizing those who contributed to the church’s restoration.
Granite Corinthian columns support the wooden ceiling, while a second story of shorter queues, representing the raised galleries made of black-and-white marble, creates the illusion of height and space.
The massive granite columns themselves are war spoils.
Following a successful joint campaign between the Pisans and Normans against the Muslim Emirate of Sicily, they were taken from the Palermo Mosque in 1063.
The Pisa Cathedral dome was inspired by Islamic architecture and is richly decorated thanks to the work of Pisan artists (and brothers) Orasio and Girolamo Riminaldi.
They used the rare encaustic technique, which uses hot wax and colored pigments to create a dramatic, eye-catching effect that is still visible today.
The Pisa Cathedral dome was recently restored between 2015 and 2018.
Giovanni Pisano’s marble pulpit
Take notice of Giovanni Pisano’s long-lost marble pulpit.
This pulpit survived the devastating fire that ripped through the cathedral in 1595, but it was dismantled during the restoration process and would not be returned until 431 years later.
Pisano carved the masterpiece out of Carrara marble between 1302 and 1310 and used striking details to showcase nude and heroic figures.
It’s an intriguing example of adding layers of emotion and expression to otherwise severe Gothic sculpture, a forerunner of future Renaissance styles.
It projects a broad narrative of Medieval Italy’s events and religious imagination, with seemingly unchangeable ideals being reexamined in popular (or at least artistic) consciousness at the time.
But it’s not just about the stories being told.
The pulpit’s octagonal shape, with slightly curved panels on each of its eight faces and intricate sculptural work, was the first of its kind.
In a nutshell, the pulpit is regarded as a masterpiece, especially in Italian Gothic sculpture.
With every inch of the space covered in jostling figures in dramatic poses, it’s impossible not to be taken in by the narrative of the scenes depicted.
It is unknown whether the pulpit is in its original form because it was removed for over four centuries before being returned.
For example, people are still determining whether or not there would have always been a marble staircase spiraling to the top or if the scenes have been mixed up.
Mosaic in Christ’s enthroned apse
The enormous mosaic decorating the church’s apse is another element of the Duomo of Pisa’s interior that survived the late 16th-century fire.
The mosaic, which depicts Christ sitting on a throne between Mary and Saint John, is notable for the face of Saint John, painted by Cimabue in 1302.
Cimabue was a forerunner of the Italian Renaissance, widely regarded as one of the first great artists to depart from the current Byzantine-influenced tradition.
This masterpiece is notable not only because Cimabue is well-known.
It’s also because this was the great artist’s final work, and he died shortly after it was finished.
This painting is especially significant because it is the only one that has been proven to be the work of Cimabue himself, using official documentation from the time.
The entire mosaic is reminiscent of mosaics found in Byzantine and Norman churches in Sicily.
The work of art
As if Pisa Cathedral’s interiors weren’t impressive enough, the church also houses numerous freestanding artworks, tombs, and funerary sculptures.
The tomb of Henry VII, the Holy Roman Emperor, who died in 1312 in Buonconvento during an unsuccessful siege of Florence, is one notable piece of artwork to look out for.
Tino da Camaino sculpted his tomb, which is located in the right transept, between 1313 and 1315.
In addition, there are 27 paintings on the walls behind the main altar. These masterpieces tell stories from the Old Testament as well as the life of Christ.
Between the 16th and 17th centuries, they were completed by a group of Tuscan artists, including Andrea del Sarto and Domenico Beccafumi.
A number of the 16th and 17th-century paintings in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel were painted by Perin del Vaga, a student of Raphael.
Madonna Enthroned with Saints is one of his works.
Our Lady of Graces with Saints by Florentine artist Andrea del Sarto hangs here, as does Disputation of the Holy Sacrament by the Sienese painter Francesco Vanni.
Pisa Cathedral facts
As you explore the fantastic facts about Pisa Cathedral here, enter a world of history and breathtaking architecture.
- Pisa Cathedral Construction
The medieval Roman Catholic cathedral in Pisa, Italy, was dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Pisa Cathedral was built in the Pisan Romanesque style and served as the seat of the Archbishop of Pisa.
In 1063, architect Buscheto began construction on the Pisa Cathedral.
The spoils obtained while fighting the Muslims in Sicily were used to pay for the construction costs in 1063.
- The Cathedral’s Stylistic Elements
Lombard-Emilian, classical, Islamic, and Byzantine architectural styles were used in constructing Pisa Cathedral.
This drew on the presence of Pisan merchants at the time.
The cathedral was built outside Pisa’s early medieval walls to show that the city was not afraid of being attacked.
It was once known as one of the most influential cities in the Mediterranean region.
The site chosen for the cathedral’s construction was previously used as a cemetery during the Lombard era.
A church was also built on the current cathedral’s site at the beginning of the eleventh century.
- The Primacy of the Church
In 1092, the cathedral was declared a primatial church after Pope Urban II bestowed the title of Primate on the then-archbishop of the cathedral, Archbishop Dagobert.
In 1118, Pope Gelasius II, a member of the Caetani family, consecrated the cathedral.
- The Church’s Enlargement
Rainaldo, an architect, oversaw the cathedral’s expansion in the early twelfth century.
Adding three bays in the original Buscheto style increased the nave’s length.
The transept was also increased in size. Rainaldo also designed the new façade, which workers led by sculptors Biduino and Guglielmo completed.
- Exterior Decoration
The cathedral’s exterior is richly decorated with mosaic, polychrome marble, and many bronze objects obtained as war spoils.
Griffin was one of the bronze objects acquired in Palermo in 1061 and was placed on the roof’s eastern section.
- The Cathedral Organs
The Serassi organ, which can be found inside Pisa Cathedral, was built between 1831 and 1835.
Another organ in the cathedral was built in 1977 by the Cuvio-based company Mascioni.
The Cathedral’s Relics
The cathedral houses relics of Pisa’s patron saint, Saint Rainerius, and the unfinished tomb of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII, who died at Buonconvento.
The high arches were built in the southern Italian and Islamic styles, while the blind arches with lozenge shapes are reminiscent of some Armenian structures.
- Bronze Doors
Many tourists who have visited the Pisa Cathedral will immediately point out the bronze doors.
Bonanno Pisano, an artist, was responsible for creating an extraordinary piece of artwork depicting Christ’s ascension.
Pisa Cathedral embodies the very essence of Romanesque architecture.
Why is the Pisa Cathedral famous?
The Cathedral of Pisa is one of the most beautiful churches in Tuscany, Italy.
The cathedral is notable for its Romanesque architecture. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a masterpiece of Pisan Romanesque architecture.
It was consecrated in 1118 and served as the seat of the Archbishop of Pisa. The building began in 1063 and was finished in 1092.
Can you go inside Pisa Cathedral?
Inside Pisa Cathedral, 90 people are allowed in every 30 minutes, and if there are too many people, they only let you in if you buy a ticket for the Baptistry or the Cemetery. (5 euros per person).
We advise you to go early in the high season to book a time for your visit.
What is the most notable characteristic of the Pisa Cathedral?
The Pisa Cathedral is Romanesque, with a nave, four aisles, a transept, a crossing dome, and multiple arcade galleries.
The nave is surrounded by two rows of monolithic columns made of granite from the Isle of Elba, flanked by four aisles separated by smaller colonnades.
Featured Image: Tom D’Arby / Pexels