In my picture: Francesco Traini's fresco with the name "Trionfo della Morte", dated around 1350. Inside the Museo del Camposanto Vecchio you will see a lot of other great frescos as well, unfortunately some of them were ruined during WW II.
But even the remains of it are quite impressive and interesting !
The Campo Santo, also known as Camposanto Monumentale ("monumental cemetery") is a historical edifice at the northern edge of the Cathedral Square.
"Campo Santo" can be literally translated as "holy field", because it is said to have been built around a shipload of sacred soil from Golgotha, brought back to Pisa from the Fourth Crusade by Ubaldo de' Lanfranchi, archbishop of Pisa in the 12th century. A legend claims that bodies buried in that ground will rot in just 24 hours. The burial ground lies over the ruins of the old baptistery of the church of Santa Reparata, the church that once stood where the cathedral now stands. The term "monumental" serves to differentiate it from the later-established urban cemetery in Pisa.
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
+39 (0)50 560 547
Phone: (+39) 050 560547 - Opera Della Primaziale
Fax: (+39) 050 560505
From November to February: 9.00-16.30;
From March to October: 9.00-17.30;
From April to September: 8.00-19.30
Price: Euro 5,00
You can watch my 2 min 33 sec Video Pisa Camposanto out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Camposanto (the cemetery) is monumental architectural complex which dates back to the 13th century. The construction was begun by Giovanni di Simone and completed during the several following centuries. Nowadays it became a valuable artistic patrimony wtih plenty of famous paintings and sculptures. The cemetery was heavilly devastated by fire during the WW II.
Camposanto is Italian name for the holy cemetary and its ground base consists of the earth which pilgrims brought to Pisa from the Jerusalem.
The Camposanto Monumentale, or monumental cemetery, is the most recent of the four main structures composing the Piazza dei Miracoli. Its construction began in 1278, and the cemetery was given the shape of a really big cloister, supposedly built around sacred soil from Golgotha that had been brought to Pisa by Crusaders. Very early on, the cemetery began attracting visitors, and it became especially popular with 18th century Romantic poets who would walk around its cool and quiet walls in search of inspiration. These walls were once entirely covered by frescoes painted by Francesco Traini and Bonamico Buffalmacco. Unfortunately, during World War II, the cemetery was hit by a bomb that started a fire, and the frescoes were badly damaged. They're in the process of being restored now, and those who'd like to find out more about the different techniques involved can visit the Sinopie Museum (part of the combined ticket), which presents the sketches used to paint the frescoes. Also, in the cemetery's Chapel Dal Pozzo, it's possible to see different relics, including some belonging to the 12 apostles. I'd never seen relics before and to be honest, I thought it was pretty weird to see a bunch of bones on display!
Located just north of the Cathedral, il Camposanto Monumentale is an enclosed cemetery said to contain soil brought back from Palestine by the Crusaders. Its construction began in 1278 by the architect Giovanni di Simone, but it was only completed in 1464 by other architects. The exterior of the structure contains a series of blind arches in the typical Pisan Romanesque style and a richly carved Gothic tabernacle above the entrance, created in the 14th century. The interior consists of a long cloister surrounded by galleries pierced by elegant Gothic windows. Along the length of the galleries are Roman sarcophagi and later-period tombs of various Pisan notables. A few original frescoes in the galleries have survived, but the majority were lost forever when Allied bombings in WWII destroyed large sections of the Camposanto (the structure was subsequently restored).
Camposanto is one of most elegant burial places I've seen. Arranged around a formal garden, this stunning gothic cemetery houses the remains of many famous Pisans. Mingle around for about 30 minutes admiring the Greco-Roman sarcophagi, the outstanding frescoes and the lifelike statues of angels, saints and dead Pisan nobility. The haunting beauty of Camposanto is made more surreal by the creative use of lighting. I was there on a cloudy day and the dusky surroundings further added drama to the whole experience.
Entrance is facilitated by a single ticket I bought for the Piazza dei Miracoli attractions. See tip above on cathedral.
The Camposanto Monumentale, or monumental cemetery, is much less visited than the central sights of the Campo dei Miracoli, and therein lies its appeal. On a hot busy day in July it was a real pleasure to escape into its cloisters for a short while, to see its frescoes and watch their restorers at work.
The word “Camposanto” means Holy Field, and the name derives from the fact that the structure it is said to have been built around a patch of sacred soil brought to Pisa from Golgotha by a Crusader. It takes the shape of a large cloister formed around this ground, built in Gothic style during the 14th and 15th centuries. The main entrance is crowned by an exquisite Gothic tabernacle, which contains the Virgin Mary with Child, surrounded by four saints. This dates from the second half of the 14th century and is the work of a follower of Giovanni Pisano. Beautiful, isn’t it?
Inside the galleries are lined with Roman sarcophagi – these are all that are left of a much larger collection and were formerly distributed across the central grassed area. Prior to the building of the Camposanto they had been in the cathedral, and were reused to bury local noblemen. More interesting for me than these though were the remains of several large frescoes on the walls. The walls were once covered in these; the first applied in 1360 and they continued to be added for about three centuries. However, on 27th July 1944 a bomb fragment from an Allied raid started a fire, which burnt the wooden rafters and melted the lead of the roof. Most of the sculptures and sarcophagi were destroyed and the frescoes all but ruined.
After the war work began to restore the roof. The remnants of the frescoes were carefully removed (I don’t understand though how that is done when the painting is directly onto the wall?) and kept safe until they too could be restored – work which has now commenced. The drawings beneath them were also rescued and are displayed in a museum on the other side of the Campo dei Miracoli, which we didn’t visit. However we were lucky enough to come across a couple of the restorers at work here in the Camposanto and were able to see firsthand what a painstaking process this is (see photo 5). This was fascinating to watch. But the main attraction here was the peace, quiet and coolness in the middle of a hot and busy day.
See my Campo dei Miracoli tip for some information about tickets
This was by far the least crowded, most serene monument I have ever been to. Once inside the walls you forget there are hordes of people outside marvelling at the tower. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a cemetery. The silence was the only thing reminiscent of one. It's so easy to forget what you are looking at when you have been admiring statues and monuments for 8 days straight. If you are in need of escaping the crowd or just want an attraction all to yourself, this would be your choice.
For art or history buffs, the surviving frescoes in the indoor gallery are not to be missed. Here you'll find the Triumph of Death and the Last Judgement. It is an amazing change to take in all these darker images after a week long assault of "maddona with child" at so many other museums.
Inside the Cemetary you are able to sit and observe a room filled with two of the orginal frescos that adorned the inside of the cemetary walkways. The frescoes have been detached from their original location and put in an indoor gallery, to protect them from further erosion from the elements. Unfortunately most were destroyed in 1944 by incendury bombs that caused the lead roof to melt and destroy the walls.
The Campo Santo is surrounded by a huge wall that looks transported from Kong Island, the Monumental Cemetary itself was supposedly started when Archbishop Lanfranchi, who led the Pisan fleet to the Crusades, brought back some holy earth from the Holy Land for certain favoured burials. Many of the frescoes and sculptures accumulated here were destroyed by an Allied incendiary bomb in 1944. Two rather fierce frescos remain, The Triumph of Death and Last Judgement. It is an enclosed space of serenity and peace far from the maddening crowds that throng the square outside.
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