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Battistero – Italy’s largest baptistery

  • Battistero – Italy’s largest baptistery

    Also on the Campo dei Miracoli, a veritable Square of Miracles, stands the Battistero, the largest baptistery in Italy. Begun in 1152, it was remodelled by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano a century later, built in the same Pisan Romanesque style as the Cathedral. This round, arcaded affair is richly decorated with niches and statues of saints. The interior is far plainer, but it has one great treasure: Nicola Pisano’s hexagonal ¬pulpit of 1260, carved with scenes from the Life of Christ. The masterpiece was clearly influenced by Ancient Roman art, notably by Roman sarcophagi in the Camposanto (see below). Mary, for example, has the long neck, veil and ringlets typical of middle-aged matrons in Roman portraiture. You may be lucky enough during your visit to hear one of the attendants demonstrate the Baptistery’s re¬markable acoustics. As four or more individual notes are sung, the long echo allows them to build up to a complete chord that rings eerily round the dome.

    Address: Battistero (Baptistry) Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa
    Web: www.opapisa.it

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