Interesting facts about Pisa


Pisa is a city in Tuscany, central Italy.

It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa.

The city is situated on the alluvial plain of the Arno River, about 10 km (6 miles) from the Ligurian Sea and 80 km (50 miles) west of Florence.

As of September 2020, the population of Pisa is about 95,000 people.

The city covers a total area of 185 square kilometers (71 square miles).

The average altitude is 4 metres (13 feet) above sea level.


The origin of the name, Pisa, is a mystery.

Ancient Pisa was possibly inhabited by the Ligurians before passing under Roman control as a naval base.

It became a Roman colony shortly after 180 BC and by 313 AD had become a Christian bishopric.

Pisa survived the collapse of the Roman Empire to remain the principal urban centre of Tuscany.

Exploiting its sea power and the products and markets of its fertile Tuscan hinterland, the city revived in the 11th century to become a flourishing commercial centre.

pisa history

At the peak of its power (the 12th and 13th centuries), Pisa controlled Corsica, Sardinia and the Tuscan coast.

Large quantities of merchandise continued to pass through the city until the 15th century, when silting made the movement of laden galleys up the Arno River almost impossible.

After the city fell to Florence in 1406, the Medici court encouraged great artistic, literary and scientific endeavours and re-established Pisa’s university, where the city’s most famous son, Galileo Galilei [Picture below], taught in the late 16th century.

galileo galilei

When French armies invaded Italy in 1494, Pisa temporarily reasserted its independence – the city sustained a series of wars and sieges until Florence reconquered it in 1509.

There after it declined as a provincial Tuscan town.

Pisa grew again after the mid-18th century as the surrounding marshlands were reclaimed, malaria was eliminated, and light industries were developed.


In World War II, Pisa suffered severe damage in 1944 when prolonged fighting took place on the Germans’ Gothic Line (Pesaro-Rimini) of defenses.

Pisa is now a quiet provincial university town that is renowned for its art and architectural treasures.

The Piazza dei Miracoli also known as Cathedral Square is a walled 8.87-hectare area located in Pisa, recognized as an important centre of European medieval art and one of the finest architectural complexes in the world. Considered sacred by the Catholic Church, its owner, the square is dominated by four great religious edifices: the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Camposanto Monumentale. In 1987, the whole square was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

piazza dei miracoli

Pisa Cathedral is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, in the Cathedral Square. It is a notable example of Romanesque architecture, in particular the style known as Pisan Romanesque. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Pisa.

Pisa Cathedral

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa, known worldwide for its nearly four-degree lean, the result of an unstable foundation. The tower is situated behind the Pisa Cathedral and is the third-oldest structure in the Cathedral Square, after the cathedral and the Pisa Baptistry. The height of the tower is 55.86 metres (183.27 feet) from the ground on the low side and 56.67 metres (185.93 feet) on the high side.

leaning tower of pisa

The Pisa Baptistery of St. John is a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical building in Pisa. Construction started in 1152 to replace an older baptistery, and when it was completed in 1363, it became the second building, in chronological order, in the Cathedral Square, near the Duomo di Pisa and the cathedral’s free-standing campanile, the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. The baptistery was designed by Diotisalvi, whose signature can be read on two pillars inside the building, with the date 1153.

Pisa Baptistery of St. John

The Campo Santo also known as Camposanto Monumentale is a historical edifice at the northern edge of the Cathedral Square in Pisa. “Campo Santo” can be literally translated as “holy field”, because it is said to have been built around a shipload of sacred soil from Golgotha, brought back to Pisa from the Third Crusade by Ubaldo Lanfranchi, archbishop of Pisa in the 12th century. A legend claims that bodies buried in that ground will rot in just 24 hours. The burial ground lies over the ruins of the old baptistery of the church of Santa Reparata, the church that once stood where the cathedral now stands.

camposanto monumentale

Santa Maria della Spina is a small church in the Italian city of Pisa. The church, erected around 1230 in the Pisan Gothic style, and enlarged after 1325, was originally known as Santa Maria di Pontenovo for the newer bridge that existed nearby, collapsed in the 15th century, and was never rebuilt. The name of della Spina (“of the thorn”) derives from the presence of a thorn, putatively part of the crown of thorns placed on Christ during his Passion and Crucifixion. The relic was brought to this church in 1333.

santa maria della spina

San Piero a Grado is a church in Pisa, in the eponymous frazione 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) west of the city center. The church is located where once was a now disappeared port of the Pisan Republic, where, according to the legend, St. Peter landed in Italy from Antiochia in 44 AD.

San Piero a Grado

The Knights’ Square is a landmark in Pisa, and the second main square of the city. This square was the political centre in medieval Pisa. After the middle of 16th century the square became the headquarters of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen. Now it is a centre of education, being the main house of the Scuola Normale di Pisa, a higher learning institution part of the University.

knights' square

Palazzo Blu is a center for temporary exhibitions and cultural activities located in the heart of the historic center of Pisa. Its name comes from the blue color uncovered during an architectural recent restoration, and attributable to the taste of Russian owners who acquired the Palazzo in the eighteenth century.

palazzo blu

Pisa hosts the University of Pisa, especially renowned in the fields of Physics, Mathematics, Engineering and Computer Science.

The city also has the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, founded by Napoleon in 1810, and its offshoot, the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, as the best-sanctioned Superior Graduate Schools in Italy.

The city is characterized by cool-mild winters and hot summers.