The San Sisto in Corte Vecchia is the oldest church in Pisa that is still preserved in its original state. It is a fairly dark church and lacks real interesting works of art. It did however play an important role in the the history of the city.
San Sisto in Corte Vecchia Church Pisa
Address, opening times and entrance fee
Address: Piazza dei Cavalieri – Pisa. Telephone: Unknown. Opening Hours: From 09.00 to 12.30. Entrance fee: Free of charge. (NB: Due to the Covid crisis, opening hours may differ from those indicated here).
History and description
The facade of the Romanesque San Sisto in Corte Vecchia Church is characterised by hanging arches and Islamic-looking majolica’s. The original ones are on display in the San Matteo Museum.
The church was built to celebrate the victory over the Tunisian city of Al-Mahdija on 6 August 1087. San Sisto‘s feast day is on August 6th and the inhabitants of Pisa used to always be victorious in their battles on this particular date. (In 1284 the city would lose a war against Genoa on August 6th, however, and San Sisto was demoted from being the patron saint. The church remained dedicated to him. The new patron saint became San Ranieri).
The addition of Corte Vecchia is due to the fact that, until the 11th century, the town council used to meet in the church. As the power of the citizens increased, the original town council, which consisted of Lombard appointed noblemen, lost influence and the Corte thus became Vecchia (“old”). After Pisa had been usurped by Florence, the meetings ceased altogether.
To the right of the entrance you can see a 14th/15th century ship’s rudder.
There is a plaque commemorating the death of the Emir Al Murtada, who, after the conquest of the Balearic Islands, was taken to Pisa.
There are also replicas of historical banners of the city’s districts.