Founded in the 5th Century B.C., Pisa's history is very exciting. Originally established as an Etruscan settlement in the 2nd Century B.C. it was controlled by the Romans who called it Portus Pisanus. When the Roman Empire fell apart, Pisa turned out to be a port town of huge importance for the Gothes, the Longobards and the Carolingians. Pisa enjoyed great naval and military authority, while managing to be a flourishing port town as well. In the 11th century, Pisa together with Genoa, Venice and Amalfi, turned into one of the most potent Italian Maritime Republics.
During the middle Ages, the powerful city's navy guaranteed the town the superiority of the West Mediterranean Sea. This was also the period of its cultural and architectural heyday. During that time were built some of the most celebrated monuments in town including the Duomo, the cathedral's bell tower and the distinguished Leaning Tower. The wealth that Pisa gained made it possible for the city to found colonies in South Spain, in North Africa and on the southern coast of Lesser Asia. However, it was defeated by Genoa in 1284 and since then a gradual decline of the Maritime republic began. In 1406, the town went under the dominion of Florence. Pisa spent centuries under the yoke of domination and its former significance became distant memory. A miraculous awakening Pisa experienced in the 19th century thanks to the Lorrainese who played an important role in the city's recovery. It was them who helped the city drain the lagoon area and the banks of the Arno river. Aso they built squares and palaces and restored the Tenuta di San Rossore, which is at present a verdant natural park, with which the local people pride themselves.
Pisa is one of the most attractive Italian cultural centres, which has retained a rich artistic patrimony. In the heart of the city visitors and tourists may enjoy the most celebrated monuments of Pisa all concentrated in Piazza dei Miracoli. In this square one may see the Duomo, Santa Maria Assunta with the Leaning Tower, the Battistero, and the Galleria that encloses the Camposanto (graveyard). All the monuments are strictly produced from white Carrara marble. The celebrated leaning tower that the town is so famous for is actually a bell tower, which construction originally began in 1173 and lasted about two hundred years. Its tilting was not an original project as some believe but an unfortunate consequence during its construction. What makes Pisa different and unique however is perhaps that in no other Italian or European city of art is there such a great variety of architectural styles of its monuments. Not surprisingly this is because Pisa's long history and external influences has indeed influenced the diversity of styles. Thanks to its active foreign trade Pisa was a meeting place of different people, cultures and artistic conceptions.