Santa Maria della Spina
Santa Maria della Spina is a small church, built in Gothic style, in the city of Pisa, Tuscany. Initially, the church was given the name Santa Maria di Pontenovo, when it was constructed in the year 1230. The name was changed to Spina which means thorn, due to the presence of a thorn on the crown which was placed on the cross by Christ. This crown was brought to this church in 1333, and has remained here ever since.
The church is built alongside the river Arno. It was rebuilt on a higher level in 1871, to prevent it from getting flooded because of the rising water level of River Arno. During this process, the architecture and design of the church was slightly altered, but even so, the church holds such an attraction, that you cannot help but observe and admire its intricate and fine design.
Truly, one of the most magnificent Gothic edifices in all of Italy, the church is a thing of beauty, which must be visited when you are travelling around the beautiful region of Tuscany. The walls have been externally built in a rectangular structure, which has been erected by utilizing marbles magnificently. The marble has been laid in polychrome bands, with cups, tympani and tabernacles over the exterior side of the marble.
The complicated design, which is seen on the exterior walls of the church, has been made with excessive precision, and consists of rose windows and statues. The statues are notable and worthy of praise as they have been designed by highly remarkable Pisan artists of the 14th century. Artists like Lupo di Francesco, Andrea Pisano, Nino Pisano, Tommaso Pisano, Giovanni di Balduccio, have provided stunning pieces of art, which have been used in the construction of this church.
The facade consists of two gates, with a tabernacle which contains one of the most eye catching statues namely Madonna and the Child, which is surrounded by two angels. Giovanni Pisano is the artist who has designed and sculpted this statue which is striking and outstanding in its appearance.
In the upper part of the façade, you will find two niches, which contain the statue of Christ, along with the statues of Annunciation, and two angels.
Along the right side of the façade, you can view the various decorations which have been delicately designed. It contains thirteen statues of the Apostles and Christ. They are the impressive work of Lupo, who carved them finely and delicately. Nino Pisano sculpted the smaller statues of Saints and Angels and Giovanni di Balduccio’s work is also present here.
Along the back side of the church, you will see three round arches, with windows that are simple in design and structure. Evangelist symbols have been carved out over the tympani and consist of different niches, which showcase the artistic works of Nino Pisano.
The exterior part of the church consists of heavy and extensive designing, with a large part of the walls, covered with delicately carved out designs. When compared with the rich exterior, the interior has been designed in a simplistic, yet attractive manner.
The interior is composed of a single room, with a painted ceiling. The ceiling was painted during the 19th century, when the church was reconstructed. If you want to experience one of the best masterpieces of sculptures, designed in Gothic style, then Madonna of the Rose is what you are looking for. It is situated in the centre of the church and has been designed by Andrea and Nino Pisano.
A magnificent sight to behold, Santa Maria della Spina is one of those churches in Italy, which must be visited, otherwise, your tour would remain incomplete.