Pisa Cathedral history

The construction of Pisa cathedral, also known as Duomo di Pisa, began in 1063 under the architect Buscheto. This man was also the founder of the distinctive Pisan Romanesque style in which the cathedral is built.

The cathedral is also inspired by several other architectural styles. By looking at the four rows of open gallery above the entrance, visitors can find several smaller round arches, which is a typical feature in Moorish architecture. The inside also shows signs of Byzantine influences, especially the beautiful mosaic.

As Pisa was a strong naval power, historians believe that these influences were brought into the city by different travelers and sailors. The cathedral is, and was at the time of its construction, one of the most impressive cathedrals in the world.

There is no coincidence that this beautiful cathedral is located here in Pisa, as Pisa used to be one of the most powerful cities in the Mediterranean area.

The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Mary of the Assumption.

Why visit Pisa Cathedral ?

Pisa cathedral is truly a beautiful site which has a lot to offer. One of its most striking features is without a doubt the impressive exterior. By looking towards the very top of the west façade, visitors can a statue of Mary with the child. On either side of her stand the four evangelists.

Another thing that makes the façade stand out is the massive bronze gates. A closer inspection of the gates will reveal that they are covered in beautiful relief, depicting different biblical stories.


While the white, shining outside of the cathedral truly is stunning, the same must also be said about its inside. Inside visitors can experience the massive nave and the beautiful aisle. The nave of the cathedral is flanked by granite Corinthian columns. Unknown to many is that these columns actually comes from the mosque of Palermo. The columns were captured by the Pisans and brought to the city in year 1063.

Great works of art

The inside also holds some of the greatest medieval works of art in the world, even though a fire in late 16th century destroyed the majority of them. One that survived the fire is the mosaic in the apse. The impressive mosaic depicts Christ in Majesty, flanked by the Blessed Virgin and St. John the Evangelist.

Stunning pulpit

However, the most striking piece of art is probably the elaborately carved pulpit, which also survived the fire. The pulpit was made by Giovani Pisano and is highly regarded as one of the masterworks of medieval sculptures.

The pulpit is supported by plain columns as well as statue-like column known as Caryatids and Telamons. The upper part of the pulpit contains reliefs depicting dramatic scenes from the New Testament – all the way from the Annunciation to the Crucifixion.

Cathedral tombs

The cathedral also contains several tombs of important persons. One of them is St. Ranierius – Pisa’s patron saint and the patron saint of all travelers. The cathedral also holds the tomb of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII. Pope Gregory VIII was also buried in the cathedral, but the fire in 1600th century destroyed his tomb.

Much to see

As one can imagine, there is a ton of things to see both on the cathedrals outside and on its inside. A fun fact which the majority of the visitors do not know is that the cathedral, just like the tower, tilts. It doesn’t tilt nearly as much as the Leaning Tower, but visitors standing on the sidewalk should be able to see it.

Pisa Cathedral location

Pisa Cathedral is located in central Pisa, on Italy’s west coast. The baptistery is situated on the famous Piazza dei Miracoli.  For the exact location of Pisa Cathedral, check out the location map to the right.

Pisa Cathedral Video Guide

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