Santa Maria della Spina, Pisa

4 out of 5 stars 20 Reviews

Lungarno Gambacorti

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  • Rear view of Santa Maria della Spina
    Rear view of Santa Maria della Spina
    by toonsarah
  • A Little Church By the ArnoDetail of Side
    A Little Church By the ArnoDetail of...
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    The Disciples
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  • datapanik's Profile Photo

    Santa Maria della Spina

    by datapanik Written Jan 21, 2015

    This tiny, pale Gothic church on the bank of the river Arno is quite a contrast in scale compared with the huge cathedral in the nearby Campo dei Miracoli . The pinnacles and spires are richly decorated with ornate statues and intricate details. Originally built in 1230, it was moved and re-built piece by piece in 1871 to prevent water damage by the Arno. I passed by here a couple of times but on both occasions the church was locked so I was unable to get a look inside.

    Santa Maria della Spina Santa Maria della Spina
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    The historic churches of Pisa

    by Jefie Written Jul 14, 2010

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    Most visitors will be happy to visit the Cathedral of Pisa and then move on. Others, however, might find it interesting to know that there are over 20 historic churches located in the downtown area of Pisa, with the majority dating back to the 11th, 12th or 13th century. While most of them don't boast the same quantity of art treasures as the churches in Florence, walking from church to church is still a nice way to get a taste of the city, especially since admission is usually free. During our day in Pisa, we picked up a city map and visited a dozen churches or so. Most of them were Romanesque in style, but perhaps the most famous one of all is the little white church of Santa Maria della Spina (built in 1230), partly thanks to its location (on the main street leading to the Piazza dei Miracoli, next to the Arno River), but mostly thanks to its remarkable Gothic architecture.

    Santa Maria della Spina, in Pisa Church of San Frediano (1061), in Pisa Inside the church of San Sisto (1133) Church of San Zeno (1029), in Pisa Church of Santa Caterina (1211), in Pisa
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  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    A little gem

    by toonsarah Written Sep 16, 2009

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    When I was at the VT meeting in Cascais earlier this year I had breakfast one day with member white_smallstar who told me that when I visited Pisa I must be sure to see the church of Santa Maria della Spina because, in her words, “it is a little gem”. So I went, and she was right – it is indeed a gem. Thank you Nico.

    The church was built in 1230 and was originally known as Santa Maria de Pontenovo, being named for the “new bridge” that was just beside it at that time. The name was changed to Santa Maria della Spina in 1333, when it became home to the reliquary of a thorn from Christ’s crown (spina is thorn in Italian). The reliquary is no longer there, but the name remains.

    One reason for this church’s charm is its close proximity to the river; another its small size; and the third the wonderful Gothic pinnacles that rise from every point of the roof. Many of these are crowned by statues of the Virgin Mary (see photos 2 and 3 for details of these).

    We had heard that the interior was rather dull compared to this beautiful exterior and as there is an admission charge we decided not to go in. But if you’d like to have a look, the opening hours are on the city website here.

    Santa Maria della Spina and River Arno Santa Maria della Spina - detail Santa Maria della Spina - detail Rear view of Santa Maria della Spina
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  • pisa nature tip

    by devakavita Written Mar 5, 2008

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    parco san rossore bicycle ride
    last autumn when i went to pisa i felt like getting my muscles into moving and rented a bike at the central rental store and went all the way out to marina di pisa to take a dip in the ocean and afterward i went to parco san rossore northward from marina di pisa.
    i was all by myself for hours watching funny birds in a courtyard of houses where nobody lived anymore. meeting a fox who obviously just came from the beach fishing and lots of other flying or creeping animals i have never seen before in a lagoon.
    i was really wiped out in the evening but it was worth it.

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    You're already here, so visit!

    by travelrabbit Written Mar 5, 2008

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    I'd been to Pisa several times before I finally remembered to take a look at this tiny, but ornate church. Glad I did. Situated along the Arno River to the west of the Corsa, this is a beautiful, if impressively small, church that is said to have at one time housed a thorn from the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus himself!

    Step inside and pay the person on your left a couple of euros to enter the church. There's no real 'open' sign so do your best to interpret the hours and give the front doors a reverent tug.

    Santa Maria della Spina church Church history Santa Maria della Spina church interior
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  • darkjedi's Profile Photo

    Fantastic on the ouside only!

    by darkjedi Written Feb 25, 2008

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    Santa Maria della Spina is a small Gothic church that got its name from the word "Spina" which means Thorn in Italian. It is believed that a thorn from Jesus Christ's crown was kept here. In 1871 this pretty little church was dismantled and rebuilt on a higher level due to dangerous inflitration of water from the Arno. Its unique and pretty architecture makes it stand out from the street around it like a beacon. There is a small charge to enter the church, but to be honest even that isn't worth paying. Just open the doot and have a look inside at an ordinary room not unlike a small church hall and totally unchurchlike. Admire the ouside, forget the inside. The whole building is crowned by a delicate lace of pinnacles and niches, while the facade by tabernacles with statues. The small sculptures portraying Saints and Angels over the tympani are from the Nino Pisano's workshop, while the niche in the right pillar has a Madonna with Child by Giovanni di Balduccio.

    Inside roof
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  • Applelyn's Profile Photo

    Santa Maria

    by Applelyn Updated Jul 2, 2006

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    When I was walking along the streets, this little church caught my attention. It was really strange for a church to be bulit along the streets, in the middle of nowhere. In 1871, it was taken down a little at a time from the river banks and was rebuilt here.

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  • alemir82's Profile Photo

    So white, so nice

    by alemir82 Written Feb 17, 2006

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    Santa Maria della Spina is a small Gothic church in the Italian city of Pisa. The church, erected in 1230, was originally known as Santa Maria di Pontenovo: the new name of Spina ("thorn") derives from the presence of a thorn allegedly part of the crown dressed by Christ on the Cross, brought here in 1333. In 1871 the church was dismantled and rebuilt on a higher level due to dangerous inflitration of water from the Arno river: the church was slightly altered in the process, however.it has a rectangular plant, with an external facing wholly composed of marble, laid in polychrome bands.The small sculptures portraying Saints and Angels over the tympani are from the Nino Pisano's workshop, while the niche in the right pillar has a Madonna with Child by Giovanni di Balduccio.

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  • croisbeauty's Profile Photo

    Santa Maria della Spina

    by croisbeauty Updated Oct 7, 2005

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    Santa Maria della Spina, charming Pisan-Gothic building, is rising right on the bank of the river Arno, very unusual place for an church. Actually, in 1871 the church was disassembled and again completely assembled on the present Lungarno, because of dangerous seepage of water.
    The whole building is crowned by a delicate lace of pinnacles and niches, while the facade by tabernacles with statues. The right side of the church is in particularly richly decorated, there are thirteen niches with the statues, works of the school of Giovanni Pisano.

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    Santa Maria della Spina

    by buzzz Written Aug 23, 2005

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    The Santa Maria Della Spina was built between 1230 - 1323 by Nino and Giovanni Pisano to house a thorn said to be from Christ's crown. It is beautiful on the outside but I didn't go inside because as I approached and realised that you had to pay to get inside and was digging in my bag for my purse, I poked my head around the door (to see if there was anything in there worth paying to see) and the girl taking the money slammed the door in my face. Whereby my purse stayed shut and we were on out way!

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  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Church of Thorns

    by Willettsworld Written Jul 5, 2005

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    The roofline of this tiny church bristles with spiky Gothic pinnacles. miniature spires and niches sheltering statues of apostles and saints. The decorations reflects the history of the church, which was built between 1230 and 1323 to house a thorn (spina) from Christ's Crown of Thorns, the gift of a Pisan merchant. The church was once even closer to the river but was rebuilt on the present site in 1871 to protect it from flooding.

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  • Helga67's Profile Photo

    Santa Maria della Spina

    by Helga67 Updated Oct 10, 2004

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    Santa Maria della Spina is a remarkable tiny church along the Arno river.

    Originally this church was below the present street level. As a result of constant floods, it was taken apart piece by piece and rebuilt on the new road level.

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  • rp6686's Profile Photo

    Santa Maria della Spina church

    by rp6686 Written Aug 20, 2003

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    It's not worth.
    You have to pay (2€ I think) to enter that little church by the river.
    It has nothing special inside!

    Don't go there unless...
    1.: You are a devoted religious;
    2.: You don't have anything better to do with your money.

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  • keeweechic's Profile Photo

    Church of Santa Maria della Spina

    by keeweechic Updated Jun 13, 2003

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    The Church of Santa Maria della Spina – (St. Mary of the Thorn) is situated on the south bank of the river Arno, it was originally even closer to the river but was moved to its current position in 1871 due to fears of flooding. The church is Pisa's finest example of Gothic architecture. The ‘spina' refers to a thorn from Christ's crown that was acquired by the merchant who rebuilt the church in 1323.
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  • Bigs's Profile Photo

    Santa Maria della Spina

    by Bigs Written Nov 12, 2002

    This cute little chapel is worth a look, so you shouldn´t only visit the Piazza dei Miracoli. It´s standing at the banks of the river Arno, and you get a nice impression of the city from here

    Please have a look at my travelogue, there are some nice pics in the late afternoon sun!

    The fassade

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