The Cemetery was the last monument to be built, beginning in 1277 under Giovanni di Simone. It was named “Campo Santo” because tradition had it that the ground mixed with soil from the Holy Land was carried here on the Pisan ships returning from the 3rd victorious Crusade.
This large building was planned to house the sarcophagi and other graves clustered for centuries around the Cathedral. In 1277, the Bishop signed the act of donation of this land to build “an enclosed space” for the use as a cemetery. After a partial interruprion of the works, it was resumed in the 14th century giving the present almost perfectly rectangular form with a central cloister.
The external walls are in white marble, with 43 dead arches and 2 doorways. The main doorway shows a 14th century Gothic tabernacle with the Virgin, Child, and Saints. On entering, a cloister with Gothic arches under which are many Roman sarcophagi, once used for the burial of members of the most influent Pisan families.
In 1360, the painting of the frescos cycles along the corridors walls began. Their subjects were connected to the theme of life and death. The artists were Francesco Traini and Buonamico Buffalmacco, the author of the famous “Triumph of Death“.
Hanging in the Aulla Chapel is “Galileo’s lamp”, once hanging in the Cathedral. It is said that while observing it, Galileo conceived the isocronism of the pendulum.
A huge chain hanging on the wall is part of those that barred the entrance to Porto Pisano. After the defeat of Pisan fleet against Genoese in 1284, the harbour chains were broken and shipped to Genoa, to be returned only after the Unification of Italy (1861).