The last few weeks have been very busy, mainly due to bill paying work. There isn’t much time to rotate the camera, and no time to write about it on this page. But with things slowly getting back to normal, let me share the results of a few successful recent photography trips that I’ve been on. Like some black and white pictures from a day trip to Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa we did last week while spending time at our “southern” home in Genoa. Continuing after the jump for some history and photos of this 13th-century marble wonder…
The star of the ensemble on Piazza dei Miracoli is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most iconic buildings, the “Leaning Tower of Pisa”. The cathedral’s campanile (bell tower) is the latest addition to the piazza’s three prominent marble buildings. Its construction, led by the architect Bonanno Pisano, began in 1173 and lasted 177 years. It wasn’t until 1372 that the bell chambers were finally combined. Within five years of commencement of construction, when the tower had reached its third floor, low subsoil and inadequate foundations caused the building to tilt to the south. Realizing the precarious situation, construction was halted, giving it a century for the subsoil to stabilize and prevent the tower from collapsing.
After the project resumed in 1272, attempts were made to correct the slope by building the upper story with one side higher than the other. Finally, in 1319, the seventh and final floor was added. When finished, the tower indicated a tilt of approximately 1 degree, or 80 cm (2.5 ft) from the vertical. At its extreme, before 1990, lean was measured at around 5.5 degrees. However, in 2010, it has been reduced to around 4 degrees. Rising 60 meters high, the tower was designed to accommodate a total of seven main bells. Currently, the top of the campanile can be accessed again by climbing 296 steps.
Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) is home to four major religious buildings: the Cathedral of Pisa, the Baptistery, Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery), and the Leaning Tower. The piazza, part paved and part grassed, is a fine example of European medieval art and one of the finest architectural complexes in the world.
The history of the piazza begins in the 11th century when Pisa was a powerful maritime republic. The cathedral was the first building built in 1063. Dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta (St. Mary of the Assumption), is a superb example of Romanesque architecture, combining elements of Classical, Early Christian, Lombard-Emilian, and Byzantine styles. . An imposing white and gray marble façade leads to a spectacular array of pillars and arches, with bronze doors depicting scenes from the New Testament. Inside, the cathedral is even more magnificent. The interior of the three naves is decorated with stunning mosaics, a huge dome rises above the naves.
Construction on the then Baptistery (the largest in Italy at over 100 meters in circumference) began in 1152, but was completed only in the 14th century, when the loggia and dome were added in the Gothic style by the famous artists and architects Nicola ( father) and Giovanni ( son) Piano. A remarkable 13th-century work of art in the Baptistery is the pulpit by Nicola Pisano, sculpted between 1255 and 1260.
Camposanto Monumentale, the final of the four main buildings to be built, was started in 1277 by the architect Giovanni di Simone. It is said to be the most beautiful cemetery in the world and was built around a load of holy earth brought back from Golgotha during the Crusades, hence its name, “Sacred Square”. Camposanto Monumentale used to contain a large collection of Roman statues and sacrophagi, but now there are only about 80 of them left. Along the marble walls and floors of the surrounding passageways, visitors can see the splendid tombs of many of Pisa’s noble families.
Piazza dei Miracoli with its marble wonders is truly one of the best spiritual and architectural ensembles in the world. For this post, I decided to share some images converted to monochrome in Lightroom Classic, as black and white brings out the architectural splendor of this place brilliantly. The photos were taken with a Leica SL2-S and a Vario-Elmarit-SL 1:2.8/24-70 ASPH, plus some merged iPhone shots. Like the last image of this post, where I wanted to capture the vastness of the monumental cemetery with an ultra wide angle shot – lying on the floor with my iPhone 😉
Hope you have a great Wednesday!
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