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Pisa Baptistery tickets

Leaning Tower of PisaPisa Baptistery



Part of the magnificent Square of Miracles in Pisa, the Pisa Baptistery is an imposing, circular monument of worship dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The first of four buildings in the Square, this church is the largest baptistery in the world, and is known to symbolize birth (the Cathedral and the Camposanto stand for life and death, respectively).

Here’s a fun fact: Like the Cathedral and the Tower, the Baptistery also leans at an angle imperceptible to the human eye (0.6° angle towards the Cathedral).

Pisa Baptistery: History and function

Who built the Baptistery and why?

The Baptistery was built by the architect Diotisalvi, as evidenced from an inscription inside the church. It was the second building to be constructed in the Square of Miracles, after the Cathedral but before the Leaning Tower. It complemented the Cathedral and symbolized Pisa’s wealth and prosperity.

Purpose

As the name suggests, the church stands for the doctrines and beliefs espoused by St. John the Baptist, who was believed to be the precursor of Jesus Christ. Baptism is an initiation ceremony where Christians are formally inducted into the religion. Today, the Pisa Baptistery is used as a regular church with congregational services.

Pisa Baptistery: Interiors

The interiors of the Baptistery are fairly frugal compared to its size and shape. Yet, the elements that decorated it are works of artistic brilliance and ahead of their time.

The octagonal font

Built by Guido Bigarelli, the font is an octagonal raised platform in the center of the Baptistery (almost as large as a swimming pool). It contained an immersion basin in which Christians dipped during their baptism ceremony. It also contains a bronze statue of St. John the Baptist. Now, it is barricaded to the public.

The pulpit

The pulpit is one of the main highlights of the Pisa Baptistery’s interiors. Crafted by Nicola Pisano, it demonstrates the transition from late Gothic to Renaissance architecture. Pisano used a drill to carve figures of Mary and scenes from Jesus Christ’s life. The pulpit is supported by many pillars and flourished with beautiful relief.

The Women's Gallery

Reached by a spiral staircase, the women’s gallery is a seating space with a view of the Arabic-inspired floor down below. It also lends a great view of the pulpit and the font.

The dome

Before the Baptistery was capped, it had an open conical structure. Hence, the first dome of the Baptistery is cone-shaped to fit the layout, whereas the outer dome is more hemispherical.

Acoustics of the Pisa Baptistery

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Baptistery is intangible – its acoustics.

Due to the construction of the nested domes of differing shapes, music or sounds made at the bottom travel all the way to the top, circling the dome and returning down. In fact, scholars say that the monument itself was modeled to mimic the pipes of a church organ. The resonance and reverberation caused by the skillful architecture make it one of the leading reasons why tourists visit the Baptistery today.

Bookmark these tips for a memorable Pisa Baptistery visit

  • Although it belongs to the Square of Miracles, access to the Baptistery is not automatically granted with Leaning Tower of Pisa tickets. You must purchase a ticket that specifically includes entry to the Baptistery.
  • If you stick around the Baptistery for a while, church authorities will be sure to demonstrate the monument's acoustics with applause or music.
  • Climb the gallery to the balcony to get good photographs of the Cathedral and the Leaning Tower.
  • While the top floor isn’t accessible to wheelchair users, the ground floor is. Ask for assistance at the entry for a smooth visit.
  • The Baptistery follows the same dress code as the Pisa Cathedral, so cover your knees and shoulders before entering.

Frequently asked questions about Pisa Baptistery tickets

Are Pisa Baptistery tickets included in Leaning Tower tickets?

Not all Leaning Tower of Pisa tickets grant access to the Baptistery. Make sure your ticket specifically includes access to the monument at the time of booking. If visiting is an optional upgrade on a regular ticket, be sure to choose that variant in order to secure entry to the Baptistery.

What makes the Baptistery worth visiting in the Square of Miracles?

There are several compelling reasons to visit the Baptistery on your trip to Pisa: it is the largest baptistery in the world, with a circumference of over 100m and a height of +56m. Its two domes offer unique acoustics that make sounds reverberate within the interiors long after the source has ceased. It showcases a unique blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, demonstrating the evolution of architectural preferences over two centuries.  

Can I climb the dome of the Baptistery?

Unlike the Duomo dome and similar to the Rome Pantheon dome, you can only gaze up and appreciate the architecture of the structure, but you cannot climb it.

Is the octagonal font still used today?

The octagonal font is a pool-sized basin where Christians were baptized centuries ago. Now no longer used for this particular purpose, it is barricaded to the public and preserved as a testament to the erstwhile practice.

Why does the Pisa Baptistery lean?

The unique soil composition and structure of Pisan soil, particularly in the Square of Miracles, makes the Baptistery lean with a very slight tilt that’s not visible to the eye. It is attributed to the weak and unsteady subsoil on which it is built.