The Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral in Pisa is located in the Piazza dei Miracoli, together with the other important places of interest in the city. The Duomo was built at the beginning of the 17th century. The enormous construction had to indicate how powerful the then Maritime Republic of Pisa was.
Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral Pisa
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
The address of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is Piazza del Duomo – 56126 Pisa (tel. +39). Bus: A, 3. Opening hours: In winter, the Cathedral is open from 10:00 to 12:45 and from 15:00 to 16:45 during the week and from 15:00 to 16:45 on weekends. The rest of the year it is open from 08.00 to 20.00 hours. Admission: Free.
History Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral Pisa
The Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral is a good example of Romanesque architecture. The architect was called Buscheto and he used many different (from Arab to Norman and from early Christian to Byzantine) influences in his design.
The grandeur of the cathedral also had to convey what a mighty sea nation Pisa was at that time.
Construction began in 1064, at the same time as the construction of St. Mark’s in Venice. This happened after a Pisan fleet attacked the Sicilian city of Palermo, which was occupied by the Muslims. They fought alongside the Norman leader Robert Guiscard. The spoils of this war made the construction of the Cathedral possible.
Over the years a number of restorations took place.
In 1595 there was a big fire, in which the original doors and part of the interior were destroyed. Most of the church needed to be refurbished after this. Among other things, the gilded cassette ceiling dates from this period.
The tomb of Gregory VIII, who died in Pisa after only two months of pontificate, did not survive the fire.
Buscheto designed a church with a high nave, flanked by two lower aisles, and a transept. The upper part of the façade consists of four loggias built on top of each other.
The statue on the façade depicts the “Madonna and Child”.
Highlights Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral Pisa
After the fire of 1595, Giambologna, whose real name was Jean Boulogne and came from Flanders, was commissioned to make new doors.
Jesus Pantocrator Mosaic
An absolute highlight is the mosaic in the apse attributed to Cimabue, depicting “Jesus as Pantocrator”. According to tradition, the Pantocrator is depicted frontally, with a Gospel book in his left hand, making a blessing gesture with his other hand. However, Cimabue died in 1302 and the work was only completed in 1320. In addition to Christ, Mary and John the Evangelist are depicted, and it is assumed that Cimabue himself only worked on the latter. The rest of the mosaic is the work of Francesco da Pisa and Vincino da Pistoia.
The Latin text on the book means, “I am the light of the world”. The words on his garment refer to the viper and the basilisk he is trampling under his feets and the lions and dragons on both sides of his throne.
The pulpit Giovanni Pisani made at the beginning of the 14th century also survived the fire. The nine panels on the chair depict New Testament scenes. In 1926, the chair, which had been considered lost for almost 3 centuries by that time, was recovered. The pulpit in the cathedral is a replica.
The Griffin of Pisa
The bronze Griffin of Pisa stands on a column on the roof of the Duomo. It is an original Islamic statue with characteristics of a horse, as well as an eagle, a lion and a rooster. It was probably stolen from an Islamic city around the 12th century, when the Pisan Republic was very powerful. The original of this sculpture is in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
Some of the statues and other sculptures that make the cathedral are not the originals. These are exhibited in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. Giovanni Pisani‘s original pulpit can also be seen in this museum.