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Baptistery of St. John

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza del Duomo, 23, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

EUR 4

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expert
Ambra
Local tour guide
"Make sure to visit the Baptistery of St. John in Pisa during the early morning or late afternoon when it is less crowded—this way, you might even get a chance to hear the unique acoustics during a spontaneous vocal demonstration by the guides. Also, try to stand directly in the center of the main floor, look up, and speak or clap—you'll be amazed by the echo, a secret feature known mainly to locals and frequent visitors."

What is the Baptistery of St. John?

The Baptistery of St. John is a religious edifice in Pisa, Tuscany, that stands proudly in the Piazza dei Miracoli, near the renowned Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Cathedral of Pisa. This ecclesiastical masterpiece is the largest baptistery in Italy, and it's famous for its remarkable acoustics and the baptismal font within, where countless Pisans have been baptized since the Middle Ages. The structure is renowned for its blend of Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles, showcasing the transitions that occurred in Italian architecture over the centuries.

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History of the Baptistery of St. John

Construction of the Baptistery began in 1152, under the direction of architect Diotisalvi, as indicated by a plaque inside the building. The building was erected on the site of an earlier baptistery, which was smaller and insufficient for the city’s growing population. It underwent several phases of construction and architectural modifications, evolving its style from Romanesque to Gothic as time progressed. In 1260, the sculptor Nicola Pisano completed the pulpit, which is one of the baptistery's most magnificent interior features.

The upper part of the building was not completed until the 14th century, under the guidance of architect Giovanni di Simone. The exterior decorations were added in the middle of the 14th century by various artists, who continued to decorate the structure in the following century. It wasn't until 1363 that the Baptistery was finally consecrated, after nearly two centuries since its foundation was laid. The Baptistery’s construction and decoration are a testament to the painstaking efforts of generations of Pisans.

Why is the Baptistery of St. John Important?

The Baptistery of St. John is a symbol of religious significance, marking the place where Pisans have been baptized for centuries, directly linking it to the spiritual life of the city. Architecturally, it represents a critical juncture between two dominant styles of medieval Italy. Its Romanesque circular plan and the Gothic verticality reflected in the later stages of construction serve as an educational monument, illustrating the stylistic shift in architecture over the time of its creation.

Moreover, the acoustic wonder that its interior provides allows visitors to experience choral music in a setting that’s both visually and aurally breathtaking. The sheer artistry of its design and the craftsmanship of the iconic pulpit by Nicola Pisano also make it a treasure trove for art history aficionados. These elements, combined with its association with the Piazza dei Miracoli's collection of extraordinary monuments, cement its status not only as an important local sanctuary but as a masterpiece of Italian and world heritage.

Things to Do & See at the Baptistery of St. John

Upon visiting the Baptistery, guests are often awestruck by the detailed inlay marble work that adorns its exterior—a precursor to the beauty held inside. One of the first experiences inside is the acoustic demonstration, where the unique echoes created within the dome are showcased. A visitor or guide will typically demonstrate by singing a note, allowing all to hear how it resonates and amplifies within the space.

The pulpit carved by Nicola Pisano is another highlight, rich in biblical scenes and considered a masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture. The baptismal font, located in the center of the structure, is another crucial feature, and if you visit during a baptism, you might witness a centuries-old tradition taking place. Moreover, adventurers may climb the steep stairs to the upper gallery, where they can enjoy panoramic views of Piazza dei Miracoli and beyond. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes as the climb can be quite a challenge!

Don’t forget to take a moment to absorb the nave's grandeur, where the transition from Romanesque to Gothic is visible in the arches and columns. For those with a penchant for Medieval art, numerous sculptures and artworks are scattered throughout the baptistery to admire. During your visit, it would not be uncommon to encounter local singers or musicians spontaneously performing just to delight in the building's amazing acoustics—which, I promise you, is an experience not easily forgotten.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the history of the Baptistery of St. John in Pisa?

The Baptistery of St. John in Pisa is a religious edifice considered the largest Baptistery in Italy. Its construction began in 1152, in the Romanesque style, with the second and third floors added in the Gothic style. It is part of the Piazza dei Miracoli ensemble, along with the famous Leaning Tower and the Cathedral of Pisa.

What are the architectural features of the Baptistery of St. John?

The Baptistery is renowned for its acoustics and its large baptismal font. The structure boasts a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic architectural elements, including detailed marble facades and an intricate dome. The interior features notable artwork, including frescoes and sculptures.

Can visitors climb to the top of the Baptistery of St. John?

Yes, visitors can climb to the watching gallery inside the Baptistery to enjoy panoramic views of Pisa and the surrounding Piazza dei Miracoli. The stairs are narrow, and there is usually a limit on the number of people allowed at one time.

Are there any special events or ceremonies held at the Baptistery of St. John?

The Baptistery is still used for religious ceremonies, especially for baptisms. It is also the site for concerts and special events due to its excellent acoustics. The events calendar changes throughout the year, so visitors should check local listings.

What are the opening hours and ticket prices for visiting the Baptistery of St. John?

The Baptistery's opening hours vary depending on the season; it's typically open to visitors every day with the option of a combined ticket that includes other sites in Piazza dei Miracoli. Ticket prices also vary, and discounts may be available for children, students, and seniors. It's recommended to check the official website for the most up-to-date information.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza del Duomo, 23, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

EUR 4

Find it on google maps