The Leaning Tower of Pisa stands, or should I say leans, in the Piazza dei Miracoli in the medieval part of Pisa. On my journey home from Florence there was no way I could fly out of Pisa’s Galilei Airport without stopping off at the Field of Miracles to take a look at the iconic campanile, the Baptistry and Pisa Cathedral.
Given World Heritage Site status by UNESCO 25 years ago, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is just a five-minute bus ride and a 30 minute walk from the airport. Easy to squeeze in a quick visit before my flight and a lovely way to round off my trip to Tuscany.
Directions here on how to get to the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Centrale Station, Pisa
Piazza dei Miracoli or The Square of Miracles
I arrived at The Square of Miracles, which is on the perimeter of medieval Pisa, just as the sun was going down and bathing the ornate buildings in a warm, golden light. The white marble buildings stood out against the rich green of the grass of the lawns where students lay enjoying the last of the sun. There are three buildings in the square, The Baptistry, The Cathedral and, of course, Pisa’s Leaning Tower. I didn’t have time to go inside the buildings or to climb the tower but still really enjoyed my brief visit.
The marble Baptistry at Pisa is also on the lean by 0.6 degrees towards the Cathedral. It stands slightly higher than the tower and is the biggest baptistry in Italy. The lower section with rounded arches is Romanesque style and the upper sections with pointed arches are Gothic style. At first I thought my photos were completely skewed until I found out that all three buildings in the Square, and other towers in the city, are all on a bit of a lean. The sandy soil in the area is the guilty culprit for this squiffiness.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta – Duomo
Between the Baptistry and the Leaning Tower of Pisa stands the centerpiece of the complex, the impressive Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta designed by architect Buscheto and the oldest of the three structures. Building started in 1064. In 1595 a fire destroyed most of the Renaissance art works although many mosaics and the famous pulpit survived.
The design is Romanesque but there are many influences and styles from other cultures including Byzantine and Islamic. Pisa was a Maritime Republic and trips to North Africa and the Middle East by sailors are depicted on various parts of the cathedral. The large bronze doors of the cathedral decorated with Moorish themes are right opposite the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is an iconic piece of Italian architecture standing 55m high and on the tilt to 5 degrees. Of course I knew it leaned but had no idea to what extent until I saw it up close. How on earth does it not topple over!
Construction goes back to 1173 but the bell tower was leaning before the third floor was even finished and work interrupted throughout construction. The tower is actually slightly bent from an attempt to straighten it to prevent it falling. In 1275 the tower was enlarged and three new levels added. In 1350 the belfry was added and the tower finally completed in 1372.
There are 294 worn steps to reach the top. A gallery and arcade is located on each level except the last one where there are 7 bells. The tower was closed from 1990 to 2001 because of instability whilst engineers tried to stop the tower from toppling but it’s now open again to visitors. The Leaning Tower of Pisa actually leans a little less today due to corrective work. It’s now at the same inclination that it was 200 years ago.
Tickets for the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Book Tickets to the Leaning Tower online or in the Square of Miracles. I’d recommend booking in advance to avoid queues – it gets very busy in high season.
I loved watching people doing what looks like Tai Chi whilst trying get that cheesy travel shot.
I spent a really pleasant hour wandering the Field of Miracles and marvelling at the tipsy tower. There’s more to Pisa than the tower and I saw many more sights on my walk to Pisa airport. I also had the best gelato ever. Here’s how to get to the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Centrale Station, Pisa.