Pisa’s most famous attraction may be its Leaning Tower, but for centuries its heart was Knights’ Square (Piazza dei Cavalieri), remodeled by the architect Vasari in the 16th century into a classic example of Renaissance civic planning. Today, the square is home to Pisa’s university in the medieval center.
The elegant Knights’ Square is lined with historic palaces and the church of the Knights of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, designed by Vasari and named for the religious and military order founded by Cosimo de’ Medici. A statue of Cosimo stands in front of the Palazzo della Carovana, which features detailed monochromatic etchings on its facade known as sgraffito, also by Vasari.
Knight’s Square is one of the most important public spaces in Pisa’s historic center, and it’s generally included in walking, bike, and Segway tours of the city, along with the Piazza dei Miracoli, home of the Leaning Tower. Pisa is a popular day trip and shore excursion destination from Florence, Livorno, and La Spezia. Joining a tour with skip-the-line entrance to the city’s most famous attractions is highly recommended in the crowded summer months.
Things to Know Before You Go
- When touring the historical center of Pisa and Knight’s Square on foot, wear comfortable shoes and a sun hat.
- The public square is easy to navigate with a wheelchair or stroller, and most of the space is pedestrian only.
- A number of cafes and gelato shops are just off the square, making this an ideal spot for a quick espresso or cone.
How to Get There
Knights’ Square is in Pisa’s university quarter on the edge of the medieval city center. It’s a short walk south of Piazza dei Miracoli. Buses run throughout the area, and street parking is limited.
When to Get There
Pisa’s main attractions are crowded during summer, so for fewer people and shorter lines, visit the city in the quieter spring or fall. Knight’s Square is home to Pisa’s historic university, which makes it vibrant during the school year when it’s crowded with students.
Pisa’s Other Square: Piazza dei Miracoli
The Piazza del Duomo, more commonly known as the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), houses Pisa’s Duomo complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a splendid example of Pisan Romanesque architecture that includes the 17th-century Duomo, its adjacent baptistery, and the iconic bell tower (the Leaning Tower of Pisa).