Record ID: 121

Site Name



Seaport - European


city (1991 pop. 98,928), Tuscany, N central Italy, on the Arno R.; (cap.) Pisa prov.; 43�43'N 10�23'E. It is now c.6 mi/9.7 km from the Tyrrhenian Sea, which once reached the city. Pisa is a commercial and industrial center; mfg. includes transportation equip., glass, pharmaceuticals, and food. Probably a Gr. colony, later certainly an Etruscan town, it became a Roman colony (180 B.C.) and prospered. During the 9th�11th cent. A.D. it developed into a powerful maritime republic, fighting the Arabs throughout the Mediterranean and rivaling Genoa and Venice. Pisa�s political and commercial power increased upon acquisition of possessions and trading privileges in the E Mediterranean during the Crusades. While competing with Genoa for the possession of Corsica and Sardinia, Pisa was crushed by the Genoese in the naval battle of Meloria (1284). As a Ghibelline center in the 13th and 14th cents., the city was also chronically at war with Florence, to which it fell in 1406. At the same time, a school of sculpture founded by Nicola Pisano flourished in Pisa and gave the city some of its great art treasures. The Council of Pisa met here in 1409. The univ. (founded in the 14th cent.) enjoyed a great reputation during the Renaissance; Galileo, who was born in Pisa in 1564, was a student and later a teacher here. Pisa was badly damaged in World War II but was extensively reconstructed after 1945; the characteristic Pisan style, a variation of the Romanesque, was largely retained. The city�s noteworthy structures include the Pisan Romanesque cathedral (1068�1118), which has a fine marble facade, bronze panels by Bonnano Pisano, and a pulpit by Giovanni Pisano (reconstructed after a fire in 1926); the marble baptistery (1153�1278); the marble Leaning Tower (180 ft/55 m high and 16 ft/4.9 m out of the perpendicular); the Camp Santo (cemetery), with frescoes of the 14th and 15th cents. (many badly damaged in World War II); and the churches of Santa Maria della Spina (early 14th cent.) and Santa Caterina. Nearby is the Carthusian Monastery of Pisa, with large classical cloisters.