Thursday, June 19, 2014

136. ... it really does lean ...

I couldn't come to Florence without a quick trip across the countryside to Pisa to check out THAT famous tower ...

 Pisa is just a very fast hour away from Florence ...

 ... and there it is ...
... it really does have quite a lean ... 
in fact it leans approx 4 degrees off centre ... 

The Tower is located in the Piazza dei Miracoli - a wide walled complex dominated by four great religious edifices: the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery). Partly paved and partly grassed, the Piazza dei Miracoli is also the site of the Ospedale Nuovo di Santo Spirito (New Hospital of the Holy Spirit), which houses the Sinopias Museum and the Cathedral Museum. In 1987 the whole square was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.. 

 

The heart of the Piazza del Duomo is the Duomo, the medieval cathedral of the Archdiocese of Pisa - the archbishop of Pisa being a Primate since 1092. Its construction began in 1064, and the building, as have several in Pisa, has tilted slightly since its construction, though not nearly to the extent of the nearby Tower.. 

 
 View from upstairs at the Baptistery ...

 
 The interior of the Cathedral is very grand -
- made even more so by the magnificent music ...   

I timed my visit to Pisa rather poorly - just as I arrived at the Piazza, a very large and important looking procession of monks and clergy and acolytes - and finally the Archbishop ( dressed in very splendid garb - and flanked by security guards ) emerged from the Baptistery and proceeded through a line of restrained shabby tourists into the Cathedral to the thunderous sounds of the choir and organ ... the main areas of the Cathedral were roped off for the faithful, and us mere tourists had to make do with standing at the back and gawking ... security guards everywhere made photography all but impossible ... I was reprimanded twice, so rather than press my luck further and maybe lasered or worse still excommunicated for life, I paid my respects to the Archbishop and left the jolly event to continue my wandering ...

The Pisa Baptistry, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, stands opposite the west end of the Duomo - and it too has a definite lean ... ??? ... or maybe it was just my eyes playing tricks ...

 

The round Romanesque building was begun in the mid 12th century, but not finished until the 14th century, when the loggia, the top storey and the dome were added. It is the largest baptistery in Italy. Its circumference measures 107.25 m. Taking into account the statue of St. John the Baptist (attributed to Turino di Sano) on top of the dome, it is even a few centimetres higher than the Leaning Tower. 


The interior is massive - though very plain and void of the trimmings of the Cathedral. A flight of stairs takes you up to a mezzanine level ... 

 
 ... the procession ...

... the Archbishop's wardrobe being transported back to the closet ...

Next, a walk across the lawn to the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery ), located at the northern edge of the square. This walled cemetery is said to have been built around a shipload of sacred soil from Calvary, brought back to Pisa from the Forth Crusade in the 12th century. This is where the name Campo Santo ( Holy Field ) originates. 

 

The building itself dates from a century later in 1278 and was erected over an earlier burial ground and was completed in 1464. The Camposanto Monumentale once contained a large collection of Roman sculptures and sarcophagi, but now there are only 84 remaining. 

 
 




The walls were once covered in frescoes - the first were applied in 1360, the last about three centuries later. On 27 July 1944, incendiary bombs dropped by Allied aircraft set the roof of the building on fire and covered them in molten lead, all but destroying them. Since 1945, restoration works have been going on and now the Campo Santo has been brought back to almost its original state.







Then finally, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is in fact the bell tower located behind the cathedral - and during my brief time there in the Piazza, the bells rang out several times - though I must say, the chimes were rather "disjointed" - maybe the lean has put them out of tune . 

 

The last of the three major buildings on the piazza to be built, construction of the bell tower began in 1173 and took place in three stages over the course of 177 years, with the bell-chamber only added in 1372. 

Five years after construction began, when the building had reached the third floor level, the weak subsoil and poor foundation led to the building sinking on its south side. The building was left for a century, which allowed the subsoil to stabilise itself and prevented the building from collapsing. In 1272, to adjust the lean of the building, when construction resumed, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other. The seventh and final floor was added in 1319. 

By the time the building was completed, the lean was approximately 1 degree, or 80 cm from vertical. At its greatest, measured prior to 1990, the lean measured approximately 5.5 degrees. As of 2010, the lean was reduced to approximately 4 degrees. The tower stands approximately 60 m high, and was built to accommodate a total of seven main bells.

... and yes I had to have THAT photo ... !!! ...





... a beautiful Fallen Angel ...

The River Arno as it flows through Pisa 
( from Florence and beyond ) 
out into the Mediterranean ...


Not a lot to see in Pisa - about from a visit to the Piazza - and I didn't visit the museums - so after only a couple of hours of wandering about the place, it was back onto the train for my final day in Florence ...