| |

Piazza del Duomo, Pisa

By Linda

What is the Piazza del Duomo? 

Piazza del Duomo, also called Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), is the cathedral square of the central Italian city of Pisa. The “miracles” that stand in this square are world-famous buildings: the Duomo of Pisa, its (leaning) bell tower, the Baptistery and the cemetery Campo Santo. All date to between the 11th and the 14th centuries and all are masterpieces of medieval architecture in Pisan Romanesque style.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. Making a purchase through an affiliate link will mean a small commission for this website. This will not affect your price.

Text: Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, Italy. Images: above, the Leaning Tower and the Cahtedral. Below, the Cathedral seen from the other side.

Why is the Piazza del Duomo in Pisa a UNESCO World Heritage site? 

UNESCO’s description says that the “four masterpieces of medieval architecture had a great influence on monumental art in Italy from the 11th to the 14th century. Within these monuments are such world-renowned art treasures as the bronze doors and mosaics of the cathedral, the pulpits in the baptistery and cathedral, the frescoes of the Campo Santo, and many others.” 

Pisa is also connected to the history of physics. The Cathedral was the place where Galileo Galilei’s observations led to his discovery of the “theory of isochronism of small oscillations” and he used the tower to conduct experiments in gravity.

People in the foreground with, in the background, the domed Baptistery and cathedral.
The Baptistery, with the Cathedral and Tower behind it.

What can you expect on a visit to the Piazza del Duomo in Pisa?

Mainly because of the remarkable and so-called Leaning Tower, the 9-hectare square is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy. The tower was started in 1173, but not finished for almost 200 years. Starting to lean while it was still under construction, it eventually inclined at an angle of 5.5 degrees. In 1993, work was begun to stabilize it, straightening it to its current angle of almost 4 degrees. Almost 300 steps have to be mastered in the narrow staircase of the tower to climb up to the bells on the 8th floor and enjoy the view over the entire Piazza del Duomo.   

The beautiful Pisa Cathedral was considered for centuries as the most monumental building in Christian history. Begun in 1063, it was consecrated in 1118, though it was enlarged later in the 12th century. Its facade is entirely made of white Carrera marble.  

The Baptistery belongs to the cathedral and also took about 200 years to build. It is the largest baptistery in Christian history, with a total height of 54 meters and a circumference of 107 meters.  

The monumental cemetery Campo Santo stands at the northern exit of the square and also took almost 200 years before its completion in 1464. It was built to house the many tombs that until then were scattered around the cathedral. 

The Cathedral, covered in white marble, and the Leaning Tower partially visible behind it.
The Cathedral, with the Leaning Tower behind it.

Is the Piazza del Duomo worth visiting? 

Even though Piazza del Duomo is one of the most crowded squares in Italy, it is definitely worth a visit. With a current inclination of 3.9 degrees, the bell tower is not the most leaning tower in the world, but it and the other medieval masterpieces are still worth a visit. Especially the many details in the outer facades of the marble buildings will delight even non-art fans. 

There is also the Cathedral Museum (it. Opera del Duomo) which offers an interesting overview of the history of the entire Piazza dei Miracoli. 

What sorts of travelers would like Piazza del Duomo? 

Piazza del Duomo is a mecca for culture lovers and a great destination for everyone else. Those who are interested in art treasures of the Middle Ages will have to look at all the sights from the inside and outside and will accordingly need at least a whole day for their discovery tour.  

Compare hotels in Pisa.

If you are less interested in art and want to admire the impressive buildings only from the outside, you don’t need to spend any money. You can shoot one of the famous souvenir photos with the leaning tower for free. 

The cathedral, covered in white marble, with rows of pillars built into the facade and a dome with ornate edging.
The Cathedral and, to the left, the Baptistery

Tips for visiting Pisa

The Piazza del Duomo is one of the main attractions within the entire country of Italy. There are always tons of other tourists and visitors around you. By around 10am when the tour buses arrive on the site, it gets crowded. For that reason, you should avoid the summer holidays and weekends when visiting and/or come very early in the morning. 

Book accommodations in Pisa.

If you want to climb the leaning tower, you will have to make your reservation early for a 30-minute slot, especially in peak season. You will need tickets for the other sites on Piazza del Duomo as well, but you will not have to decide on a fixed time for those. For that reason, you should start with the leaning tower early in the morning and explore the other sites afterwards.  

The cathedral is free of charge, but you will still need to “buy” a ticket for it. Everyone wanting to visit more than one building, should consider the skip-the-lines Combi-ticket, which allows entrance to all the buildings except the tower. 

While you’re in Tuscany, consider visiting Monecatini Therme, part of the Great Spa Towns of Europe UNESCO site. Or plan your trip around all 50+ UNESCO sites in Italy!

Where is Piazza del Duomo? 

The Piazza del Duomo is located northwest of the picturesque old town of Pisa. There is almost no free parking nearby, but there are some parking garages, which fill up quickly. Costs are around €1.50 – €2.00 per hour.   

It is easier to get there by train. From the main station in Pisa it is about 30 minutes’ walk across the old town, but this is beautiful and absolutely worth a visit.  

From all cities in central Italy there are organized day trips to Piazza del Duomo. Depending on the tour these may or may not include tickets to the sights. Click on the image below to see lots of options.

 For more information about Piazza del Duomo, its opening hours and admission fees, see its official website.  

Have you been to Pisa? If so, do you have any additional information or advice about this UNESCO World Heritage site? Please add your comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *