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Curiosities

Go in search of these amazing details of the square. If you do not find them, discover the solution by tapping the buttons.

Inside the Cathedral, between the nave and the transept, there is a Cosmati pavement dating from the twelfth century. This highly colourful marble carpet, with polychrome tesserae forming a geometry of circles and lines, covers the entire area within the chancel enclosure and the area under the dome.

Facade of the Cathedral, right-hand column of the main door. Made by Pisan craftsmen in the mid-twelfth century. Monumental in size, its surface is entirely carved in relief with plant motifs consisting of intricate bands of leaves, flowers and fruits.

This marble wall ornament on the Cathedral is a fragment of an inscription dating from the first half of the second century AD. It was probably taken from a building of classical antiquity and reused, showing how Pisa aspired to be acknowledged as a second Rome.

In the chancel enclosure of the Baptistery, just behind the large octagonal font, we find a spectacular floor made by Islamic craftsmen in the thirteenth century. This floor provides further proof of contacts between Pisa and other parts of the Mediterranean: eastern Islamic art is plain to see in the geometries and complex interweavings of these polychrome marbles.

Inside the Baptistery, a detail showing the scene of the Nativity on the pulpit carved by Nicola Pisano in 1260. Probably taking inspiration from the sarcophagus of Phaedra, now on display in the Camposanto, Nicola shows the Virgin reclining, with her refined pose and face recalling the classical style. The folds in her drapery, and the robes of all those who crowd together in the scene, are described in the most minute detail.

Of the great collection of sinopias on display in the Sinopia Museum, here we have a detail of a majestic scene, painted by Bonamico Buffalmacco in 1336, portraying the "Last Judgement". An angel takes one of the figures towards the ranks of blesseds, while on the right Lucifer feeds off the bodies of the damned in Hell.

The "Door of Saint Rainerius", in the south transept of the Cathedral, made by Bonanno Pisano towards the end of the twelfth century. The detail we see here is "The Annunciation", one of twenty scenes from the New Testament that appear on the two large bronze doors. The Virgin is shown standing erect in an architectural setting, in front of her seat. The angel Gabriel, on the right, is seen facing her and blessing her in the Latin manner, with his arm bent. The inscription above reads "AVE MARIA GRAZIA PLENA".

There are no fewer than 178 reliefs set into the wall where the internal and external arcades of the Camposanto meet. They include atlantes, protomes and animal figures: silent observers whom we see face-on or obliquely. Here we are in the north-west corner of the Camposanto: a young man with bushy hair appears with a couple of men, whose social role and period are indicated by their headgear. Known as the Master of the Twin Heads, the artist helped create this silent series of decorations in the Camposanto at some time during the fourteenth century.

A number of small sculptural elements, arranged in an apparently illogical manner, are dotted around the extensive, compact marble surface of the Camposanto, which forms the northern boundary of the Piazza. They are in the form of little faces or anthropomorphic renderings that tell us a great deal about the construction phases of the building, for they indicate the presence of craftsmen on the building site, each of whom is identified by one of these figures. This is one of the little faces carved in relief on a dressed stone during the first half of the thirteenth century, thus breaking up the smooth white surface of the wall.

Going round the Tower, we find a capital on one of the half columns on the basement level: known as the "Capital with Monkeys", it was sculpted in the twelfth century by Biduino who, together with his workshop, worked on the decorative cycle that was to adorn the most famous bell tower in the world.

The decorations of the Camposanto were created by many great masters who, one after the other, painted Biblical stories in frescoes on the long inner walls. These include Benozzo Gozzoli, who made this scene of "The Building of the Tower of Babel" in the north corridor in about 1470. This detail shows a group of spectators watching the workers hastily constructing the mighty tower.

An imposing sculptural group stands majestically above the entrance to the Camposanto, in a Gothic architectural structure: this is the "tabernacle" carved by Lupo di Francesco in 1313. This was at the time of the Operaio Giovanni Rossi, who is probably the lay figure shown kneeling at the Virgin's feet. The complex architectural and sculptural composition of the tabernacle breaks the tranquil uniformity of the façade of the Camposanto, interacting with the far more three-dimensional architecture of the Piazza.

This is one of the most fascinating tomb monuments in the Camposanto in Pisa. In the west corridor we find the tomb of Fabrizio Massotti, an Italian mathematician, physicist and astronomer, who died in Pisa in 1863. The tomb was made a few years later by Giovanni Dupré, who placed an alluring female figure, representing Science, on the marble sarcophagus, to honour this illustrious man.

The Cathedral pulpit (1305-1310) by Giovanni Pisano. In this detail of the scene of the Crucifixion, the characters show marked expressions of grief as the Virgin Mary faints, falling into the arms of mourners.

Here we are facing the entrance to the Leaning Tower. On main wall of the first storey there is a relief showing two ships and a lighthouse. Sculpted by Biduino in the late twelfth century, the relief commemorates Pisa's success as a maritime republic and her expeditions throughout the Mediterranean.