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The Baptistery

In size and aspect the Baptistery, an imposing construction with a circular ground plan and dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is, together with the Cathedral, the Tower and the Camposanto Monumentale, one of the local points of the Piazza dei Miracoli. Construction was begun in 1152 by Diotisalvi in Romanesque style. It was continued about a century later by Nicola Pisano who added the airy loggia with its Gothic embroidery of triangles and aediculas, the setting for sculpture from the workshop of Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. The finishing touch to this marble gem is the dome, terminated in the 14th century, covered with tiles and lead plaques and crowned by a bronze figure of the Baptist, attributed to the 14th-century artist Turino di Sano.
Of the four portals, the one on the east which opens onto the splendid fašade of the Cathedral, is the finest and artistically most elaborate. The jambs are decorated with beautiful relief of pure Byzantine inspiration which depict, on the right, the Apostles, the Ascension and David, while on the left a trenchant series of the Months. The lintel is divided into two tiers; in the lower one is a description of Episodes in the life of St. John the Baptist, in the upper one, Christ between the Madonna and St. John the Baptist with Angels and Evangelists alternating.

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