Campo dei Miracoli

From Academic Kids

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Overview of the Campo dei Miracoli from above. The Baptistery is on the left, the Duomo is in the center and the leaning tower is on the right.

The Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) is the heart of the city of Pisa, Tuscany, Italy. It is a wide, walled area, partly paved and partly grassed, dominated by four great religious edifices: the Duomo, the Leaning Tower (which is the cathedral's campanile), the Baptistery and the Camposanto.

The Duomo

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The Duomo at Sunset

The heart of the complex is the Duomo, the medieval cathedral. It was begun in 1064 and is a masterpiece, the originator of the Pisan Romanesque style. It is faced with grey marble and white stone, set with discs of coloured marble. The massive bronze main doors were made in the workshops of Giambologna, but visitors actually enter through the Portale di San Ranieri opposite the Leaning Tower. Made in around 1180 by Bonanno Pisano, this doorway was actually moved from its original place opposite the Baptistery when Giambologna's doors were erected.

The interior is faced with black and white marble and has a gilded ceiling and a frescoed dome. It was largely redecorated after a fire in 1595, which destroyed most of the medieval art works. The great mosaic of Christ in Majesty in the apse, which was completed by Cimabue in 1302, survived the fire however. The elaborately carved pulpit, which also survived the fire, was the masterpiece of Giovanni Pisano. It was packed away during the redecoration and was not rediscovered and re-erected until 1926. The church also contains the mummified body of St Ranieri, Pisa's patron saint, and the tomb of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII, carved by Tino da Camaino in 1315. Galileo is believed to have formulated his theory about the movement of a pendulum by watching the swinging of the huge incense lamp (not the present one) hanging from the ceiling of the nave.

The Baptistery

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The Baptistry

The Baptistery stands opposite the west end of the Duomo. The round Romanesque building was begun in the mid 12th century by an architect known as Deotisalvi ("God Save You"). It was not, however, finished until a century later, when the top storeys and dome were added in Gothic style by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. It is the largest baptistery in Italy.

The interior is surprisingly plain, with incredible acoustics. The font at the centre dates from 1246 and was made by Guido da Como. The pulpit was sculpted in 1260 by Nicola Pisano, father of the artist who produced the pulpit in the Duomo.

The Camposanto

The Camposanto lies at the northern edge of the Campo. It is a walled cemetery, which many claim is the most beautiful cemetery in the world. It is said to have been built around a shipload of sacred soil from Golgotha, brought back to Pisa from the Crusades by the archbishop in the 12th century. The building itself dates from a century later. It is a huge Gothic cloister. Most of the tombs are under the arcades, although a few are on the central lawn. The walls were once covered in frescoes, but on 27 July 1944 incendiary bombs dropped by Allied aircraft set the roof on fire and covered them in molten lead, all but destroying them.

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