Palazzo dei Cavalieri, Pisa
Coming back from the Pisa Cathedral we stumbled upon the beautiful Knights Square area. While there are at least seven buildings in the square, the Palazzo dei Cavalieri was the one that caught my eye. It was the fascinating detail on the front façade that I found so fascinating.
The Palazzo dei Cavalleri was constructed in the mid 16th century. Its original use was to house the order of the Knights of St. Stephen. However in 1821 the building was taken over by the University and ever since has housed the Scoula Normale Superiore de Pisa.
While we were there first there we didn't see many students. Perhaps the facility is only used during the day. We tried to open the main door of the building but it was locked. I do not believe tours of the building are open to the public
Please get up close and take a look at the designs on the façade. They are beautiful and unique.
Of course, the highlight in Pisa is the Campo dei Miracoli with the Duomo, Baptristry and Leaning Tower, but Pisa has much more to offer than the Square of Miracles, so if you are planning a visit be sure to reserve a few hours for the other sights.
Since most tourists do not want to really go more far away from the leaning tower, for this reason Pisa is the single city in Tuscany, which remained really in its original state.
Piazza dei Cavalieri was the center of politics of the Pisan Republic. On the huge square among others two large buildings - Palazzo dei Cavalieri, once the knights' military training quarters, Palazzo dell' Orologio - and a church - National Church of Saint Stephen of the Knights - can be admired.
Palazzo dell' Orologio having been used as jail in the times past, has a creepy story from the 13th century. A count of Pisa being condemned to death by starvation together with his sons has eaten one of his children while in that prison. (Good appetite!!)
Nowadays, the square is also internationally known for the Scuola Normale di Pisa located in Palazzo dei Cavalieri.
Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina in the near of Ponte Solferino is a picturesque little chapel on the train station-side of the Arno River before crossing over to see the Leaning Tower. A thorn from Christ's Crown of Thorns is preserved here.
Each June Pisa honours its patron saint - San Ranieri - with a great regatta and a night-time Luminara along both banks of the River Arno. Historic buildings are romantically lit with candles or burning torches creating a fantastical fairyland, enhanced by a parade of antique boats with costumed crews.
The regatta takes place on the next day contested by teams from the four quarters of the city. The boats are manned by eight oarsmen, one steersman and an additional man who, upon arrival at the finish line must climb a 8 meters long rope on large boat anchored in the middle of the Arno, in order to grab the flag of victory.
Every four years in June Pisa hosts the Marine Republic Regatta against Venice, Genoa and Amalfi. In 2009 Pisa will be the host. It is an important event for the Pisans, and not only a show put on for tourists, but a centuries-old event taken quite seriously by the participants.