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Duomo – the prototype for Tuscan cathedrals

  • Duomo – the prototype for Tuscan cathedrals

    The candy-striped Duomo was the prototype for all Tuscan Romanesque cathedrals, with its contrasting bands of colour, blind arcading, colonnaded gallery and the geometry of inlaid marble. A hallmark of the Pisan style was its talent for selecting a theatrical space: in Pisa, the main buildings present a unified whole, as if they were placed there like chess pieces. The maritime republic of Pisa was an 11th-century power, trading with northern Europe and the Muslim world. As a result, the Pisan style is a glorious hybrid: austere Norman Romanesque inspired by a Moorish Sicilian aesthetic and the Tuscan taste for marble. Yet the colourful geometry of the multi-coloured marble is essentially Tuscan. The palette contrasts white marble from Carrara, rosy pink from Maremma and dark green from Prato. The Cathedral, built be-tween 1068 and 1118, is one of the major monuments in Italy. The beau¬ti¬ful white-marble façade is studded with mosaics, inlaid marble and glass stones. The 16th-century bronze doors are surrounded by frames enlivened by animals. The majesty of the interior is created by the forest of pillars rising to arches of banded white-and-grey stone, and the col¬ourful mix of altar paintings and Cimabue’s apsidal mosaic, from 1302. The magnificent marble pulpit by Giovanni Pisano (1301–11) is a masterpiece, supported by prophets and allegorical figures, with its dramatic panels depicting scenes from the Life of Christ. Hanging from the arch of the great dome is Galileo’s Lamp, so called because its pendulum movement is said to have inspired Galileo to discover the rotation of the earth (in reality, the lamp wasn’t here in Galileo’s day).

    Practicalities: Even if admission is free you need a ticket from another attraction on the square to get in, or a fixed-time pas from the ticket offices behind the Leaning Tower.

    Address: Duomo, Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa
    Web: www.opapisa.it

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