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The largest baptistery in the world , is located on the Campo dei Miracoli . Its construction started in 1152 , almost a century after it was the construction of the Duomo began
The huge building has a circumference of 107 meters , a height of 55 meters , and is lined with Carrara marble, in the lower part return again the blind arches back , known from the Duomo and Campanile
The above style has two parts, one in which the life of John the Baptist is depicted , one with Jesus between Mary and John the Baptist, the octagonal font is found in the middle of the chapel back
Behind the baptismal font is a 12th century marble altar , decorated with rosettes and inlays . The centerpiece of the chapel is the pulpit by Nicola Pisano in 1260
Pisano was the most important Italian Renaissance sculptor , and make the scenes on this pulpit undoubtedly clear
The Famous Pulpit of Nicola Pisano
The hexagonal pulpit is set just inside the northwest columns and pillar of the circular Baptistry. Five of the upper outer surface are rectangular marble bas reliefs, while the sixth is the entry. The five subjects are: the birth of Jesus, the Three Magi, the Circumcision, the Crucifixion and
Judgement Day. On the next level below at the lateral edge of each side are carved the Disciples and the Evangelists on the corners .The central areas are delicate arcades. Below this extend 6 round columns, three ending on the backs of lions. There is also a central round co;umn at the base of which are animal and human figures.
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Inside the Baptistry
The interior of the Baptistry is spacious but was only detailed in 1248 when the font and altar were created. In 1528 a statue of John the Baptist was placed on a column at the center of the pool. Both the font and the altar have surfaces covered by inlaid marbles. The central area is surrounded by four pairs of round columns separated by four pillars. Above this circle of verticals is a second level gallery that provides a fine view of the lower floor.
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The Outer Aspects of the Baptistry
The Baptistry was started in 1153 to the west of the Duomo and 20 years before the Campanile. It is a circular building that is 155 ft in diameter and is 180 ft high (1 ft less than the Campanile). The lowest level of the building was created by Diotosalvi in Romanesque style with tall blind arcading like the west facade of the Duomo. Building was restarted in1260 under Nicola Pisano. He created the next two levels in Gothic form with gables, pinnacles, statuettes and busts. The third level featured 20 windows and small rose windows.This was topped by a domel was created and finally the top was enclosed in1394.
On each side of the door are a fine cut-work column and a pilaster with bas reliefs of Disciples and works of the month, etc. At the bases of the columns are groups of carved frogs. We have seen similar ones at the column bases in the cloister at Monreale and they are of the same late 12C.
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Baptistry of St. John
The Baptistry of St. John is a religious building in the Square of Miracles. It started construction in 1152, in replacement of an older baptistry, and completed in 1363. It is the second building, in the chronological order, in the Piazza dei Miracoli, near the Cathedral and the famous Leaning Tower.
The architect was Diotisalvi, whose signature can be read on two pillars inside the building, with the date 1153.
The structure is 54.86 m high, with a circumference of 107.24 m, and is the largest baptistry in Italy. The Baptistry has an example of the transition from the Romanesque style to the Gothic style: the lower registers are in the Romanesque style, with rounded arches, while the upper registers are in the Gothic style, with pointed arches. The Baptistry is constructed of marble, plentiful and often used in Italian architecture.
Open: April to September - 08:00 to 19:40, March and October - 09:00 to 17:40, November to February - 09:00 to 16:40
Tel: +39 (0)50 560 547
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Battistero di San Giovanni
The Cathedral of Pisa's baptistery is the largest baptistery in all of Italy. Built between 1152 and 1363, it's the second oldest structure on the Piazza dei Miracoli after the duomo. The baptistery is 55 m high, with a circumference of over 100 m. Like the cathedral it's made almost entirely of marble, and its exterior combines two architectural styles, Romanesque and Gothic, into a surprisingly homogeneous design. There isn't that much to see inside the baptistery - the font designed by Guido Bigarelli isn't especially remarkable, but the pulpit carved by Nicola Pisaro (the father of Giovanni Pisaro who carved the cathedral's pulpit) is very nice - so much so that many art historians date the beginning of the Italian Renaissance back to 1260, the year Pisaro completed the pulpit. Another really interesting feature of the baptistery is its accoustics. Every 30 minutes, one of the staff members gives a quick demonstration of how one single note can last for several seconds as it travels through the dome, allowing a person to sing a chord all by herself. The effect is kind of eerie and it's truly worth sticking around to hear it.
il Battistero di San Giovanni - Interior
Inspired by the architecture of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the interior of the Baptistery (il Battistero di San Giovanni) consists of a circular double arcade surrounding the central baptismal area. Black marble is used to add stripes to the white marble of the interior, while eight Corinthian columns alternate with four pillars to support the upper gallery which was reserved for women. The inside dome retains the original design by Diotisalvi in the shape of a polygonal pyramid and provides the space with exceptional acoustics. Although still quite impressive, the interior of the Baptistry may disappoint the visitor by the lack of ornamentation that other baptistries in Italy tend to have (e.g., Florence or Ravenna); only the baptismal font and the pulpit are richly decorated. The baptismal font in the centre was the work of Guido da Como in 1246, while the carved pulpit was sculpted by Nicola Pisano in 1260. The latter contains a naked Herculean sculpture, the first recorded use of a nude figure in Christian art and is considered a precursor to Renaissance art which synthesised Christian and Classical imagery.
il Battistero di San Giovanni
Dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, il Battistero di San Giovanni is the largest baptistry in Italy. Its construction began in 1152 AD by the architect known as Diotisalvi, who planned a Romanesque round structure, with eastern influences, topped by a pyramidal dome. The exterior architecture is said to have been inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre while the interior by the Dome of the Rock, both in Jerusalem, at a time when Pisa had participated in the Crusades. Diotisalvi died before the work was completed, so it was taken over first by Nicola Pisani and then by his son, Giovanni Pisani. The latter two shifted the design from Romanesque to Gothic and built a round exterior dome which gave the baptistry this curious bulbous shape and its mix of styles. To a much lesser extent than the tower, the Baptistry is slightly leaning.
Diotisalvi began work in the Baptistry in 1153, but it was interrupted numerous times. Later, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano worked on the upper parts, including busts of the prophets and saints. The evolution of architectural styles during this period explains why the lower parts are mainly Romanesque, while the upper ones are more Gothic.
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Completing the picture
The Baptistery completes the trio of buildings that make up the cathedral complex. It is situated immediately opposite the west facade of the cathedral and although not as spectacular as the latter repays closer examination. Il Battistero di San Giovanni or Baptistery of Saint John, to give it its full name, was founded in 1152 to be a worthy addition to the cathedral and a further sign of the city’s wealth and magnificence. Its construction was partly funded by the citizens themselves; in 1163 it was ordered that on the first day of the month every family of Pisa should pay one denaro to continue the building of the monument.
At 107.24 metres in circumference, and slightly taller than the Leaning Tower, it is the largest Baptistery in Italy, so in scale it certainly delivers on the city’s ambitions. It is built of the same white marble as the cathedral, edged with grey, and with it creates a harmonious scene. The lower part is 12th century Romanesque (with round arches) and the upper parts are predominantly 13th century Gothic (with pointed arches – photo 2). Its dome is covered in red tiles on the west side and in lead slabs on the east side (see photo 3).
Inside it is rather sombre and plain, but there is some attractive stained glass and a magnificent pulpit carved in 1255-60 by Nicola Pisano, father of the Giovanni who was to carve the one in the cathedral. Its high reliefs (photo 4), which depict scenes from the life of Christ, are strongly influenced by Roman art such as the sarcophagi which can be seen today in the Camposanto.
The baptistery is renowned for its perfect acoustics. You can whisper on one side of the corridor, and a person on the opposite side can hear you perfectly. This is apparently demonstrated every 30 minutes by the staff on duty, but unfortunately we hadn’t realised this until after our return from Pisa and so missed hearing this phenomenon.
According to a legend told amongst the city’s students, the Baptistery is a place to be feared. If as an undergraduate you walk around the Baptistery, you will never get your degree. I also read of a similar legend relating to ascending the tower; clearly the students here are a superstitious lot.
See my Campo dei Miracoli tip for some information about tickets
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History of Pisan architecture in bricks and mortar
One of the biggest baptistries in Italy, Pisa's Baptistry offers tourists a more tangible (read: in the form of bricks and mortar) lessons in Pisan architecture. Began in 1152, it was first planned along the lines of Romanesque but scarcity of funds prolonged its construction for 100 years, which by that time Gothic was more in vogue. It's interesting to see the largely and more ornate gothic Baptistry juxtaposed with the more streamlined romanesque Duomo.
In addition to the crash architectural lesson, visitors would marvel at the size of the baptistry (say, vs. that in Florence) and the acoustics. At certain times of the day, a lady sings a few tunes to deomonstrate the special acoustic qualities of this medieval wonder. On a much smaller scale, the centerpiece is clearly the ornate marble pulpit by Nicola Pisano, father of Giovanni, the man behind the magnificent pulpit at the adjacent Duomo. Another BIG feature is the octagonla marble baptismal font by Guido da Como - big in the sense that it could qualify as a decent size swimming pool - and that is because baptism here was by immersion.
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The Baptistry of St. John (Italian: Battistero di San Giovanni) is a religious building in Pisa, Italy. It started construction in 1152, in replacement of an older baptistry, and completed in 1363. It's the second building, in the chronological order, in the Piazza dei Miracoli, near the Cathedral and the famous leaning Tower.
More Around the Tower
The intricacy of the exterior and interior work for this monument is great. Take a little time and look around to appreciate all of the little detail that went into the building. For being built in 1153, it looks great, but then it was rebuilt in 1600's so still not so new, except for European standards. the silver alter inside is real neat to see.
It is in the Piazza del Duomo and called Piazza dei Miracoli, there are four structures dedicated to the faith. It was begun in 1153 by artist Deotisalvi and the Romanesque facade was the vogue in that time. It was dedicated to St. John the Baptist and is the largest Baptistery in Italy, which says a lot. The inside is huge but not of great splendor, but still a super place to have quite solitude while thinking of how you got here. The pulpit was built in 1253-60
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In this circular building you can see the Pulpit, the Baptismal Font and a statue of St. John the Baptist in the middle.
Go upstairs to admire it all from above. There are also very nice views of the Cathedral and the top of the leaning Tower.
The Third Wheel
The Baptistry is the forgotten member of the Pisa three. Often hidden in the shadows of the Cathedral and with all the attention the Tower draws the Baptistry doesn't get quite the recognition it deserves. In many ways its similar to the Baptistry in Florence, granted it doesn't have a golden door, but its still beautiful in its own way.
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