Pisa, an ancient town in the Peloponnesus, capital of Pisatis or the middle district of Elis, situated in the lower valley of the Alpheus, between Harpina and Olympia, and near the latter place. In mythology it was known as the home of (Enomaus and Pelops. Subsequently it became the head of a confederacy of eight states, and had the presidency of the Olympic festival, of which it was deprived by the neighboring Eleans, but recovered it in the 34th Olympiad, 644 B. O. This privilege became a continual cause of war between Pisa and Elis, until in the 52d Olympiad (572 B. 0.) the Eleans were finally successful, and Pisa was so completely destroyed that in the time of Strabo its very existence was disputed.
In Tuscany A Province Of Italy, bordering on Leghorn, Lucca, Florence, Siena, Grosseto, and the Mediterranean; area, 1,180 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 265,959. The principal river is the Arno. The surface presents great variations, consisting of fertile plains, swamps, hills, and mountains. The principal products are grain, oil, wine, fruit, timber, silk, hemp, and flax. It is divided into the districts of Pisa and Volterra.
A City, capital of the province, on the Arno, 7 m. from its mouth, 12 m. N. N. E. of Leghorn, and 42 in. W. of Florence; pop. in 1872, 50,341. It is built on a plain, enclosed on the east by the Apennines, and open on the west to that part of the Mediterranean known as the Tuscan sea. The city is surrounded by an ancient wall with five gates, and is protected by a citadel. The Arno is spanned by several bridges, the ponte del Mezzo, of white marble, with three arches, being one of the finest in Europe. The cathedral, baptistery, leaning tower, and Oampo Santo of Pisa are four of the most remarkable structures in the world; they are all built of white marble and in corresponding style. The cathedral, finished early in the 12th century, contains some celebrated works of art. It was greatly damaged by fire in 1569. The baptistery, finished later than the cathedral, is a circular edifice 160 ft. in diameter and 179 ft. high, with mosaic pavement and carved col-ums. The celebrated leaning tower or campanile is 179 ft. high and 50 ft. in diameter, and divided into eight stories, each having an outside gallery projecting 7 ft. (See Campanile.) The Campo Santo (see Cemetery) became the model of other cemeteries in Italy, and contains frescoes which developed the genius of Eaphael and Michel Angelo. The university, one of the most famous in the middle ages, and attended in 1875 by about 500 students, has a library of nearly 60,000 volumes.
There is an academy of fine arts, a museum of natural history, and a botanic garden. The Uppezinghi, Lanfranchi, and Pesciolini palaces are imposing buildings. The aqueduct connecting with the valle d'Asciano, built in the 17th century, is 4 m. long, and has 1,000 arches and 8 reservoirs. Oil and marble are exported, but the commercial and industrial activity is limited. - Pisa is of remote and contested origin. The Etruscans had early settlements here. In the 2d century B. C. it became a Roman colony and a fashionable resort. In the 9th century A. D. it had fully recovered from the vicissitudes which had overtaken it after the fall of the Roman empire, and became a free town and one of the most powerful maritime republics of the middle ages. Its glory reached a climax in the 11th century by the conquest of Sardinia, Corsica, Elba, and afterward of the Balearic islands and other territories, and by repeated victories over the Saracens, whose fleet was destroyed by the Pisans at Palermo, which city they captured (1063). But the warfare with the rival republic of Genoa began about the same period, and became the source of great disasters.
Nevertheless the Pisans extended their trade in the Levant, where by joining in the crusades they had obtained great privileges, which they retained for a considerable period. But their devotion to the Ghi-bellines resulted in a league of the Guelphic cities against Pisa. In 1284, owing to the pernicious influence of Ugolino della Gherardesca (see Gherardesca), they were overwhelmed by the Genoese in the naval battle of Meloria, and before the close of the century they had lost Corsica and most other possessions. Under Uguccione, early in the 14th century, there was a momentary revival of national prosperity; but a downward course began shortly after, owing to party strifes and the intervention of the emperor Charles IV. In 1392 they fell under the sway of the Appiani, and in 1399 through Gherardo Appiano were subjected to the tyranny of the Visconti of Milan, who in their turn surrendered them in 1406 to the Florentines. But to the latter the Pisans made a heroic resistance, and after a long siege yielded only to famine.
In 1494 they regained their independence under the leadership of Simone Orlandi and with the assistance of Charles VIII. of France. The Florentines again laid siege to Pisa July 31, 1499; but the city gallantly resisted this as well as subsequent attacks by the Florentines and by Louis XII. of France till June 8, 1509, when they surrendered to the former on condition of a full amnesty. From that period Pisa remained part of the territories of Florence, and subsequently of Tuscany. - The numerous Latin inscriptions in Pisa have been described by Paganini, Tantani, and Lupi (Pisa, 1872-5).
The Cathedral, Leaning Tower, and Baptistery, Pisa.