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Top Pisa Attractions Families, Couples - What to do in Pisa Attractions Map

Popular Pisa Attractions Map - What to Do in Pisa

OVERVIEW OF TOP PISA ATTRACTIONS MAP FOR FAMILIES, COUPLES

Pisa lies at the junction of two rivers, the Arno and the Serchio, which form a laguna at the Tyrrhenian Sea. The origin of the name, Pisa, is a mystery. While the origin of the city had remained unknown for centuries, the Pelasgi, the Greeks, the Etruscans, and the Ligurians had variously been proposed as founders of the city (for example, a colony of the ancient city of Pisa, Greece). Archaeological remains from the 5th century BC confirmed the existence of a city at the sea, trading with Greeks and Gauls. The presence of an Etruscan necropolis, discovered during excavations in the Arena Garibaldi in 1991, confirmed its Etruscan origins. Ancient Roman authors referred to Pisa as an old city. Strabo referred Pisa's origins to the mythical Nestor, king of Pylos, after the fall of Troy. Virgil, in his Aeneid, states that Pisa was already a great center by the times described; the settlers from the Alpheus coast have been credited with the founding of the city in the 'Etruscan lands'. The Virgilian commentator Servius wrote that the Teuti, or Pelops, the king of the Pisaeans, founded the town thirteen centuries before the start of the common era.

Top Free Attractions Map in Pisa - What to Do in Pisa

Duomo Pisa (Free)

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Duomo Pisa is the city’s cathedral and is one of the four iconic sites of the Piazza dei Miracoli, along with the Leaning Tower (link), the Battistero (link) and Camposanto (cemetery) (link). All are of great architectural and historical significance. You certainly can’t visit the Piazza without going inside the Cathedral; beyond the sumptuous marble facade is a treasure trove of priceless artworks topped by a magnificent frescoed dome. The Cathedral was started in 1064 and finished in 1118. Busketo, the architect who began the Cathedral, is buried there. Other tombs include St Ranieri, Pisa’s patron saint, and Emperor Henry VII. The highly decorated pulpit, with its statues of lions and a naked Hercules, dates from 1302-10. Another sight to see is the beautiful mosaic in the apse of Christ in Majesty. One interesting fact connected to the Duomo is that Galileo is thought to have devised his theory of the swinging pendulum by watching the swaying of a lamp hanging in the nave. Entrance is free, and you can also get in using a ticket for the tower.
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Luminara di San Ranieri (Free)

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This festival, which takes place on the night of June 16th to celebrate the eve of the feast day of Pisa’s patron saint, sees the entire city come alive with lights, music and fireworks. Every light is switched off and the city is illuminated by thousands of candles, placed at every door, window and bridge along the River Arno. The result is simply breathtaking, especially when you consider the reflection of lights created in the river. Lights are also placed on the battlements atop the city walls surrounding the Piazza dei Miracoli, as well as on the Leaning Tower (link), highlighting its shape. If you’re in the city on this night, join the crowds gathered on the parapet walls by the river banks and enjoy the stunning view and the live music coming through loudspeakers. There’s a festive and welcoming atmosphere. All the shops and bars remain open until late. The fireworks go off at 11pm, launched from the old citadel.
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Leaning Tower of Pisa (Paid)

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The Leaning Tower was built as the campanile (bell tower) of Pisa Cathedral (link), but due to its highly unusual leaning status, has far outstripped the rest of the buildings in the Piazza in fame (even though they are also slightly out of kilter if you look closely). The Tower was begun in 1173 and began to tilt even before it was finished, due to the soft subsoil present in the Piazza. This resulted in the builders compensating in later stages by making one side of each floor taller than the other. The Tower was finally completed in 1372. It has attracted worldwide curiosity and wonder, as it apparently defies the law of physics, and many visitors marvel as to how it still stays up. For a while it looked in danger of collapse, until a restoration in 2010 reduced the lean. Views from the top are fabulous, even though climbing the stairs is a somewhat disconcerting experience! Be sure to wear sensible footwear.
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Basilica Romanica di San Piero a Grado (Free)

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This beautiful church is located some 7km west of the city centre. Its history is intricately linked to that of St Peter; legend has it that this is where he arrived in Pisa from Antiochia in the port that once existed here, in 44AD. It’s also said that Peter gave his first mass here; a church was built on the same spot in the 4th century. The present structure dates from the 10th century. The exterior is distinguished by its ceramic basins, replicas of the originals which date from the 10th and 11th centuries; they are of Islamic, Sicilian and Majorcan manufacture. The church used to have a bell tower, but this was destroyed in 1944 and, so far, only the base has been rebuilt. The nave has a series of frescoes, dating from 1300, depicting the lives of St Peter, St Paul, and many Popes. All in all, this is a breath of fresh air if you felt overwhelmed by the crowds of tourists at the Duomo complex. It’s a peaceful and undiscovered gem.
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Murale Tuttamondo di Keith Haring (Free)

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This fascinating and vibrant mural represents something totally different to see, compared to the other older attractions in Pisa. It can be found on the south wall of the church of St Anthony. The mural shows 30 colourful, boldly drawn figures which seem to be in a state of constant movement. There are many allegories and meanings to be found in the painting, of a religious and political nature; it is open to different interpretations by each viewer. For example, you have a pair of “human scissors”, two people working in harmony to defeat a serpent (representing evil); a woman holding a baby (a calming image showing the good in humanity), an angel, and a man with a TV for a head, showing our absorption in ephemeral popular culture. American artist Keith Haring created the mural in 1989, over a week, only a year before his untimely death from AIDS. The mural stands as a testament to his belief in the life-affirming power of art.
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Battistero (Paid)

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The Battistero is another of the iconic buildings to be found at the Piazza dei Miracoli. It was begun in the Romanesque style in 1153 and finally finished almost two hundred years later with a more Gothic look. This explains the interesting mix of architecture as you look up the structure. The Battistero is beautiful and ornate, and also the largest baptistery in Italy. If you count the statue of St John the Baptist on top, it is actually slightly taller than the Leaning Tower (link). The interior is relatively plain, save for a large octagonal font in the centre and a highly intricate pulpit, but the acoustics are a true marvel. Make sure to come at the hour or half past, as the woman who takes your ticket will sing a few notes, which then bounce off the walls to produce an effect of several voices singing in harmony. You can climb up to the second level (a walkway round the baptistery walls) which lets you have an overview of the whole interior, and also, out the windows, a spectacular view of the Cathedral (link).
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Camposanto (Paid)

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This beautiful old cemetery is the undiscovered gem of the Piazza dei Miracoli complex. An oasis of calm and tranquillity away from the bustling crowds, it provides an opportunity for peaceful contemplation while admiring the gorgeous statues and frescoes. These frescoes, dating from 1360, show many Biblical scenes including the Crucifixion and the Last Judgement. They were heavily damaged by Allied bombing in 1944 and work is still ongoing to restore them. The cemetery itself is said to have been built at the place where crusaders laid soil they had brought back from the Holy Land in the 12th century. Work started a century after this and then took almost two hundred years to complete. The Camposanto contains an interesting collection of 84 Roman sarcophagi, representing a fragment of the total that once existed. The cloisters are very cool, and make for a lovely walk around the picturesque inner garden.
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Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina (Paid)

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This small but highly eyecatching church sits just next to the River Arno. It’s a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, with all sorts of intricate details, and is acclaimed as one of the finest Gothic buildings in Europe. The church was built in 1230 and acquired the “Spina” tag in 1333 when a thorn apparently from the crown worn by Christ on the cross was brought here. A tabernacle is inside which was built to house this relic, although nowadays it is nowhere to be found. The exterior features all manner of statues and ornate decoration from various artists. It’s worth a visit just to see the outside; the interior is relatively plain in comparison, but does feature a painted ceiling from a 19th century restoration. There’s also an outstanding example of Gothic sculpture, the Madonna of the Rose by Andrea and Nino Pisano. The church also hosts various temporary exhibitions.
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Piazza dei Cavalieri (Free)

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This large open space, not far from the Piazza dei Miracoli, is worth a visit to see the beautifully decorated buildings. The piazza has quite a long and colourful history, which is worth digging into. In medieval times, it was the hub of political life in Pisa, carrying on this role from when the Forum occupied the space in Roman times. In 1558, the Square was rebuilt in Renaissance style, and derives its current name from this time; translated as “Knights’ Square”, the Knights of St Stephen had their headquarters here, in the Palazzo della Carovana. This imposing building has an impressive facade featuring six busts of the grand dukes of Tuscany. In front is a large statue of Duke Cosimo I de Medici. There is also a rather grisly legend attached to the Piazza; on the north side is the Palazzo dell’Orologio, with its tower where Count Ugolino della Gherardesca was imprisoned for treason along with his sons and grandsons and condemned to die of starvation. The tale was recorded in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
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Palazzo Blu (Free)

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This is a very interesting museum housed in a grand old palace which is free to enter. There are many beautiful paintings to look at along with objects of furniture that belonged to the families that lived here. There are also temporary exhibitions on a diverse range of topics. The building dates from the 14th century, but only acquired its “Blu” name recently due to a restoration when the exterior was painted a light blue. It was actually first painted this colour in the 18th century and the new redecoration came about after a fragment of the old paint was discovered. The Palazzo has been restyled as a Centre for Art and Culture and mixes old and new, with the antique exhibits rubbing shoulders with dynamic temporary showings. Among the older items are a vast collection of coins, as well as woodcuts, etchings and lithographs. It is in a lovely location facing the river.
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Giardino Scotto (Free)

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This charming, secluded park is the ideal place for a tranquil walk taking in the sights and sounds of nature. It’s an ideal place to take the kids, with a fully appointed playground. It’s also a place to get a glimpse of the old Pisa, as it contains ruined city walls, towers and an aqueduct. This was all part of a defensive fortress that was started in 1440, subsequently destroyed and rebuilt, and now provides a fascinating backdrop and touch of history to your walk in the park. The garden dates from the nineteenth century, and became a public space in the 1930s. At this time, it hosted concerts and an open air cinema - the latter tradition continues to this day, making for a very pleasant way to catch a movie. There are also many types of trees, including palms and a giant plane tree, as well as fountains and picnic areas. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Giardino Scotto is the answer.
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National Museum of San Matteo (Paid)

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This superb collection of priceless medieval religious artworks is housed in a former Benedictine monastery. The beautiful surroundings impart a sense of peace which perfectly complements the exhibits on display. The artefacts cover the period from the early 11th century up to the 16th century. Among them are an incredible collection of painted crosses, once featured in pride of place in old churches. There is an amazing collection of sculptures, including from Donatello and the Pisanos, and paintings by medieval masters. Also to be found are a dazzling display of illuminated manuscripts and antique ceramic bowls which used to be found adorning the exterior of churches. One of the highlights is the Madonna del Latte, a stunning marble sculpture by the Pisanos that was once housed in the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina (link). It’s definitely worth making the effort to wander off the main tourist trail to visit this underappreciated museum.
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Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (Paid)

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Housed in a former convent belonging to the Cathedral, this museum allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the history of the Piazza dei Miracoli and its famous buildings by displaying many works of art that once stood in the Cathedral (link), Battistero (link) and Tower (link). Dating from the late 12th century, the building opened as a museum in 1986. There is a gorgeous, inner courtyard with lovely cloisters where you can stroll and admire the antique statuary. Best of all, though, is the view of the Tower from here, which leans over the courtyard at close quarters. The tilt appears quite dramatic and it’s the best place to get a picture. In the museum, you will find a range of religious artefacts including frescoes, stained glass windows, vestments, illuminated manuscripts and much more. The displays go right back to the Etruscan and Roman days. Definitely to be included on any visit to the Piazza.
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Porto di Boccadarno (Free)

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A highly pleasant marina in which to stroll and admire the views out to sea, the Porto is a recent but very welcome addition to Italy’s coastline, as it replaced the old derelict Fiat factory that used to be here. It opened on June 30th, 2013 to much celebration. Here you will find bars, restaurants, bakeries, a supermarket, a pharmacy, and more. The development was highly anticipated by local residents. It is situated in the middle of the largest natural park in Tuscany and coexists sympathetically with the existing wetlands and their fauna. There are berths for 354 boats. Ample seating is available to sit and take in the scene, and sunset over a glass of wine at one of the restaurants is something to behold. Flowering plants have been installed at many locations around the marina. The marina’s first residential homes appeared in 1860 but the port went on to acquire an industrial character. It has now been returned to its original style as a tranquil beauty spot.
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