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Pisa Cathedral

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It is not only the Leaning Tower that impresses in Pisa. The Cathedral of Pisa (also known as Cattedrale Metropolitana Primaziale di Santa Maria Assunta or simply Pisa Cathedral), which can also be visited, is the monumental church for which the tower was originally built.

Admission to the Cathedral of Pisa is free. However, for the allocation of time slots the free tickets must either be picked up, or booked for another part of the cathedral complex to get a flexible entrance ticket for the church.
Klaus KainzBy Klaus Kainz
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Tickets

Get access to different sights at the Piazza dei Miracoli.
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Reserved Entrance to Leaning Tower of Pisa & Cathedral
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Baptistry, Graveyard & Cathedral: Fast Track
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Guided Tours

Book a guided tour to get expert insights into Pisas most important buildings.
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Pisa Cathedral Guided Tour and Optional Leaning Tower Ticket
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Pisa: All-Inclusive Guided Tour with Optional Leaning Tower
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Pisa Cathedral Guided Tour & Wine Tasting + Leaning Tower
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7 Tips for Visiting the Pisa Cathedral

Duomo di Pisa | Flickr: Raphael Labaca Castro CC BY-SA 2.0
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Book tickets earlyBook tickets in advance - the free tickets can be reserved only on the same day and the desired time slot may already be taken. To avoid the big crowds, you can visit the cathedral early in the morning or later in the evening. Beware: tickets for the tower and other sections of the complex are chargeable.
Duomo di Pisa | Flickr: Olivia Notter CC BY 2.0
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Guided ToursThere is no official guided tour of the cathedral complex. Private operators offer tours of the Piazza dei Miracoli and the surrounding buildings, as well as other parts of the city of Pisa. Tours usually last two hours. However, make sure you book a reliable guide and that tickets to the Leaning Tower of Pisa or other tickets are included in the price.
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All the sightsThe Piazza dei Miracoli is home to several architectural landmarks, all of which require a ticket to enter. The Baptistery is particularly worth seeing; at 180ft (55m) high, it is the largest of its kind. The Camposanto - a monumental Gothic cemetery - offers beautifully designed arcades and chapels, but also Roman sarcophagi. For lovers of frescoes and the art of painting behind them, a visit to the Museo delle Sinopie is also a must.
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Duration of a tourDepending on how much interest in sacred architecture is brought along, tours of the interior of the Cathedral last between 20 minutes and an hour. A visit to the Leaning Tower takes 30 minutes. For all the sights in the Piazza dei Miracoli, plan for a visit of about 4 hours, including waiting and walking time.
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Pisa City TourAway from the iconic church and its tower, Pisa is indeed a rather small town. Nevertheless, it has various activities to offer for the rest of the day. For example, a walk through the old town with its palazzi or along the Arno River is a good idea. Other churches in Pisa are also worth seeing, such as Santa Maria della Spina, which is smaller than the Duomo, but no less spectacular. There are also many small museums, such as the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo or the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Reale. The regional specialties of the many restaurants are also a delight.
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Respect rules in the churchThis is a church, so guests are asked to enter the building only with their shoulders covered and wearing at least knee-length shorts or skirts. In addition, head coverings are to be taken off in the cathedral. One exception: nowadays visitors to the monumental architecture do not have to be baptized.
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Celebrations and eventsMasses and prayers are held in the cathedral on Sundays and Christian holidays. Since 2005, the Opera della Primaziale Pisana also organizes free Christmas concerts. Plus, on All Saints' Day, November 1, and November 2, admission to the Camposanto is free.
Pisa Cathedral| CC BY-SA 4.0

A Brief History of the Cathedral of Pisa

It is true that the Leaning Tower in Pisa is world famous. But the cathedral next to it is just as impressive as it is steeped in history and worth every visit.

Monumental architecture

Pisa Cathedral has long been considered one of the greatest monuments in European history and became the model for many other churches in Italy. Between the 11th and 12h centuries, the monumental building was built outside the city walls. Still recognizable on the exterior facade are the ancient origins of the building material. A fire destroyed parts of the cathedral at the end of the 16th century, although some great works of art survived, including a fresco of the Madonna and Child and the geometric marble floor..

Problematic foundation

Originally, the soft soil of the surrounding area caused the tower of the cathedral to become as leaning as we know it today. Fundamentally, the cathedral also has to deal with the same problem. The first construction of the churches sank into the ground too and is therefore lower than later added components and sections - so beware of steps!

Connection to the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The tower and the cathedral are located on the same site in Pisa and are to be considered as a connected work of art. In fact, the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre di Pisa or Torre pendente) is the free-standing bell tower (campanile) of the cathedral. In Italy, this constellation is quite common in churches of this era: there is also a freestanding bell tower, for example, at St. Mark's Basilica in Venice.

The great art of the Cathedral

Among the most important works of art in the interior of the cathedral are Riminaldi's domed fresco of Mary in Glory and the mosaic of Jesus Christ located in the apse. On the pulpit are elaborate sculptures depicting scenes from the life of Jesus. On the exterior walls, in turn, there are a wide variety of illustrations. However, these had no artistic meaning, but came from the building material, which was partly recycled, partly procured from conquered cities.

Art from many eras

After the fire of 1595, an extensive restoration took place in the Cathedral of Pisa. This resulted in the golden coffered ceiling, which can still be admired today. The ornate bronze gates also date from this period. The impressive organ is surprisingly modern on the other hand: it was built in the 1980s.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there guided tours for the cathedral complex including the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

There are no official guided tours. However, private operators give tours of the Piazza dei Miracoli and the surrounding buildings, as well as other parts of the city of Pisa. Tours usually last 2 hours. Make sure to book a reliable guide who include tickets to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the cathedral complex in their price. Read more.

Is there an audio guide?

An audio guide in five languages can be rented when you redeem your tickets, but only during the hours immediately after opening. Read more.

Do I have to check in luggage?

Only small bags are allowed in the dome. Larger luggage must be handed in. Read more.

Is the cathedral accessible for disabled visitors?

Ramps for wheelchairs have been built into the church as far as was possible. People with disabilities may visit the entire cathedral complex free of charge. However, the visit to the tower is not recommended with motor limitations. Read more.

General Information

Opening Hours:

The Cathedral of Pisa is usually open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. On Sundays and Christian holidays, times may change, information will be posted on the website in a timely manner. The Camposanto, the Baptistery and the Museo delle Sinopie are usually open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Due to construction work, the Baptistery will be closed from November 2 to December 7, and the Museo delle Sinopie will also be closed from November 10 to 18.

Address:

Pisa Cathedral
Piazza del Duomo
56126 Pisa PI
Italy

Tickets:

Tickets for the cathedral can be booked online or on site for free. However, for the Leaning Tower of Pisa as well as other components of the cathedral complex, tickets must be purchased for an entrance fee. A ticket for the cathedral and tower costs 20€, for all sights on the grounds 27€. For 7€ you may enter the church as well as one additional sight except the tower, for 10€ the entire site except the tower is accessible.

How to get there:

The Leaning Tower of Pisa and Pisa Cathedral are a 20-minute walk from the main train station of Pisa. You can also reach the tower by taking bus numbers 110, 120, 140, 190, 21, 70, 71, 80, 81, 840, 875, or LR to the bus stop called Torre 1.
Klaus Kainz
Written byKlaus KainzAs a studied historian, Klaus is not only interested in historical sights, but also in their fascinating backgrounds. For TicketLens, he gets to the heart of the most interesting information about attractions and travel destinations.
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