The “four miracles” of architecture, namely the Baptistery, the Cathedral, the Leaning Tower and the Cemetery in Piazza dei Miracoli, as the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio called it, are the result of an initial unitary project, despite their different periods of construction. UNESCO site since 1987, it is the destination of an international tourist flow.
The Piazza dei Miracoli was built between the 12th and 13th centuries in a decentralized position from the center. Before the Christian buildings, the area was occupied by Roman domus and then consecrated to worship, as evidenced by the many pieces of Roman reused on the exteriors of the monuments that symbolically express the dialogue of Heaven with Earth: Baptistery = Birth, Cathedral and Bell Tower = Life, Monumental Cemetery = Death and Resurrection.
The monuments were built in white marble extracted from the nearby quarries of San Giuliano Terme, at the foot of the Mount Pisano. The first building to be constructed was the Cathedral (1064), majestic symbol of the civil and religious power of the Republic of Pisa. Followed the Baptistery (1152) and the Leaning Tower (1173), then the buildings of the Spedale Nuovo (1257), today seat of the Museo delle Sinopie, finally the Camposanto Monumentale (1277) on the north side. Behind the square there is also the restored Museo dell’Opera del Duomo with a beautiful cloister and loggia on the second floor.
The monumental complex of Piazza dei Miracoli is protected and managed by the Opera della Primaziale Pisana, the ecclesiastical institution founded in the 11th century to supervise the construction of the monuments of the Piazza. Opera (Latin opus, operis) is the Tuscan version of fabbriceria or factory. In the coats of arms OPERA is often abbreviated as O₽A, where ₽ is an abbreviation sign with relative meaning of PER. Primatial means ‘of the Primate’ and refers to Church.
In our case the Primate is the Archbishop of Pisa, who has the primacy over Corsica and Sardinia: the title derives from the dominion of Pisa as a Sea Republic over those lands in the Middle Ages.