The second-oldest building in Pisa’s famous Piazza dei Miracoli is the largest baptistery in Italy. Built between 1152 and 1363, the Pisa Baptistery is a marvelous example of the blending of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, with each level built in a different style.
At nearly 180 feet (55 meters) high the baptistery provides wonderful views of the Duomo and is an excellent alternative vantage point for those who don’t have time for long queues to enter the Leaning Tower.
Follow the path that leads around the Pisa Baptistery’s circumference to admire its scale and the Romanesque architecture of its lower level. A series of blind arches run around its marble facade, with a beautifully decorated arch above its entrance. Look for the reliefs showing the Labors of the Months, the Apostles, the Harrowing of Hell and King David that flank the portal.
Once inside you’ll immediately notice the acoustics of the building. If you are lucky enough to find yourself alone here, test the resonance of the building and sing a note from the center of the room. If not, each half hour the staff closes the doors for a little while to demonstrate these acoustics by singing a short melody.
Climb the steps to the second level of the baptistery for elevated views of the Duomo. A gap in the protective metal screen on this level allows you to take unobstructed photographs.
Appreciate the baptistery’s pulpit, the work of master sculptor Nicola Pisano. Reliefs on the pulpit show moments from the life of Christ. A Gothic font accompanies the pulpit and features a modern statue of St. John the Baptist.
The Pisa Baptistery is located in the Piazza dei Miracoli and can be easily reached from most parts of central Pisa on foot. Buses regularly service the piazza, while those arriving by car will find metered parking just a short walk away on Via Pietrasantina. You can visit the baptistery daily and you can couple your ticket with other attractions in the square to get a reduced fee.