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Pisa

From Academic Kids

Pisa (population 90,000) is a city in Tuscany, northern Italy at the mouth of the river Arno on the Mediterranean.

Landmarks

Leaning Tower of Pisa
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Leaning Tower of Pisa

By far the best known sight in Pisa is the famous leaning tower which is but one of many architecturally and artistically important structures in the city's Campo dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles to the north of the old town center. The Campo dei Miracoli is also the site of the beautiful Duomo (the Cathedral), the Baptistry and the Camposanto (the monumental cemetry).

Other interesting sights include Knights' Square (Piazza dei Cavalieri), where the Palazzo della Carovana, with its awesome facade designed by Giorgio Vasari may be seen, Borgo Stretto where it is possible to stroll under medieval arcades and Lungarno, the avenues along the river Arno. Remarkably, there are at least two other leaning towers in the city, one at the southern end of central Via Santa Maria, the other halfway through the Piagge riverside promenade.

Pisa hosts the University of Pisa, especially renowed in the fields of Physics, Mathematics, Engineering and Computer Science and the Scuola Normale Superiore, the Italian academic elite institution, mostly for research and the education of graduate students.

Construction of a new leaning tower of glass and steel 57 meters tall, containing offices and apartments was scheduled to start in summer 2004 and take 4 years. It was designed by Dante Oscar Benini and raised criticism.

History

Already existing during Etruscan and Roman times, Pisa reached its apex in the Middle Ages when it was one of the four Marine Republics of Italy (Repubbliche Marinare), together with Genoa, Amalfi and Venice.

At that time the city was a very important commercial center and controlled a significant Mediterranean fleet. It conquered part of Sardinia and successfully defeated several rival towns in Sicily and in the south of Italy; its fleet also took part in the crusades. Pisa used the riches it had accumulated in those years to build the monuments that constitute the Campo dei Miracoli.

The town had an independent republican government and was ruled by a city council. Pisa always sided with the pro-imperial Ghibellines , actively supporting emperors such as Frederick Barbarossa, Frederick II and Henry VII. Those emperors acknowledged Pisan independence and were so grateful for its loyalty that the town was chosen to house the spoils of Henry King of Germans, the son of Frederick II. The spoils remain in Pisa's Cathedral.

The decline began in 1284 when Pisa was defeated by Genoa in the naval Battle of Meloria. The defeat ended the marine power of Pisa and the town never fully recovered. It tried to rebuild its power in the course of the 14th century but was eventually conquered by Florence in 1406. Galileo Galilei was born and lived here.

Notable people born in Pisa

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