History Embedded in a Marble Inscription
The history of the Cathedral of Pisa is reported by a series of epigraphs embedded on its façade, enabling one to determine the events related to this monument: the period, the founder, the circumstances and the means of construction.
The inscriptions testify that the Cathedral had been erected with the citiziens will since 1064, when Pisa, at the climax of its political, economic and military development, was the strongest marine power in the Western Mediterranean area. Among the victories over the Saracens, the sacking of Palermo provided an extraordinary booty permitting the beginning of the new Cathedral construction, which was the tangible proof of the city's power.
This type of "panelled caption" includes the tomb of Buscheto, the architect of the extraordinary engeneering and aesthetic features of this "snow-white marble" building, which, according to the inscription, "had no precedents". Further building, consisting of enlargement to the aisles and the façade construction, is ascribed to Rainaldo, who in another epigraph, was described as "careful member and Master builder of the Opera del Duomo".
The Cathedral is cruciform in plan and has a very elongated main body, divided into five aisles by two double rows of columns with a semicircular apse at its end. Its transept intersects the main body and is divided by two colonnades into three aisles, which apses as well.
In the middle of this cross there are those two distinct structures with two and four colonnades respectively on different module. The singular structure produces an effect of multiple visual directions, and echoes the layout of contemporary mosques. The intersection is surmounted by another dome, elliptical in plan and with Islamic influence.
The Building Construction
The completion of the Catherdal, solemnly consecrated on the 26 September 1118, was reached in two phases. The first is acribed to Buscheto, architect of the original plan in the shape of a basilica with 5 aisles, protuding transept with 3 aisles and the dome placed over the crossed-vault. The second is ascribed to Rainaldo, architect of the façade and the enlargement of the building.
The Cathedral reached completion only in the last 25 years of the 12th century, once the lost bronze doors by Buscheto were put on.
The polychrome inlaid roof, visible under the dome, and Guglielmo's pulpit both date back to the 12th century. The pulpit depicts Stories of Christ. It was later begiven Sardinia, to the Cathedral of Cagliari, in which it is still preserved. The marble balustarde which surrounded it is today preserved in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.
From November to February 10:00-13:00/15.00-17.00; March 10:00-18:00 (until 13/3) 10:00-19:00 (until 20/3) 10:00-20:00 (from 21/3); from April to September 10:00-20:00; October 10:00-19:00
The entrance is allowed 30 minutes before closing time. On holidays the Cathedral opens at 13:00.
Mass hours: Weekdays 8:00, 9:30; Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00
School groups: 1,00 euro
Entry is free from 1 November to 1 March