Pisa Cathedral

 
Lorenzo Nucci

Some might argue that the Pisa Cathedral an objectively better monument than that attention-seeking Tower.

Unlike the Tower of Pisa, it doesn’t tilt. But it doesn’t need a distinguishing feature like that to catch your attention —the Cathedral is, like all Italian churches, grandiose, elaborate, and beautiful. Black and white stripes line the outside and inside of the cathedral, mimicking a candy cane. The perimeter of the inside of the church has large, detailed murals depicting stories of Jesus and friends, and the golden ceiling glimmers. The Cathedral is simply waiting for gravity (or God) to strike down the Tower so it can finally have the spotlight.

Best things to see at Pisa Cathedral

The cathedral

The original cathedral was founded when the first stone was laid in 1064, but the structure and almost everything in it were destroyed by fire in 1595. The only works that survived are the painted figure of Saint John the Evangelist (circa 1302), the new pulpit (1302-1310), and the monument to Emperor Henry VII on the apsidal conch. The exterior now exhibits an interesting and eclectic mishmash of Arab, Islamic, and Mediterranean cultures, while the inside boasts detailed murals depicting stories of Jesus and friends. When you visit, be sure to look up—the glimmering golden ceiling is the icing on the cake of this splendid building.

 

The Tower of Pisa 

Even if it didn’t have its distinctive lean, the Tower of Pisa is gorgeous in its own right. As the bell tower of Duomo Square, its seven bells (one for each musical note) were used for divine timekeeping. Head to the top (yes, it’s safe!) for some of the best views of the city and beyond.

 

Opera del Duomo Museum

Opened in 1986, Opera del Duomo houses sculptures, liturgical objects, and cathedral fixtures that date back hundreds of years. Translating to “Museum of Cathedral Works,” all of the pieces hail from the centuries-old piazza and help to tell the story of Pisa’s storied past.

 

Camposanto

Dating all the way back to 1277, the cemetery was built per order of Archbishop Federico Viscont to serve as a final resting place for all the graves scattered around the Cathedral. As you wander the grounds, be sure to check out the walls engraved with frescoes depicting Life and Death, the sepulchers of the members of the Medici family, and the Roman epigraphs and the sarcophagi.

Best places to eat & drink near Pisa Cathedral

Fresh-caught seafood

The city’s close proximity to the sea means they serve up some pretty tasty seafood. Once you’ve had your fill of sightseeing, head downtown and indulge some in local delights like octopus pasta, seafood soup, and a fresh filet of tuna.

 

Picnic with a view

Most people come to Pisa for the sights, not the food. Skip the touristy restaurants in the city center in favor of a bag lunch on the expansive lawn of Piazza dei Miracoli. Pop into a local deli to get what you need for a true Italian-style picnic, and settle in to eat as you soak up the stunning views around you. 

Pisa Cathedral directions and parking

The best way to get to the Pisa Cathedral

The Pisa Cathedral is located in North Pisa near the Piazza dei Cavalieri. There is no onsite parking, but there is a nearby parking lot on Via Andrea Pisano. If you want to go by public transport, the  #4  and #21 Lam Rossa bus will take you to nearby Piazza Manin. The Pisa Cathedral is also accessible by bike.

 

Best parking near the Pisa Cathedral

There is a parking lot off Via Andrea Pisano for a fee.

Pisa Cathedral FAQs

Does the Pisa Cathedral have a dress code?

Yes, the Pisa Cathedral has a dress code. Bare shoulders, short skirts, and shorts are not permitted.

 

Is there a bag check at the Pisa Cathedral?

Yes, there is a bag check at the Pisa Cathedral. 

 

What style of architecture is the Pisa Cathedral?

The Pisa Cathedral is a style of architecture known as Pisan Romanesque.

 
When did the Pisa Cathedral open?

The Pisa Cathedral first opened in 1092.

 

Who designed the Pisa Cathedral?

The Pisa Cathedral was designed by Italian architect Buschetto.