Porta del Leone and Jewish Cemetery

Porta del Leone _ Mura medievali e porte (A. Matteucci)
Porta del Leone _ Mura medievali e porte (A. Matteucci)
The Porta del Leone (Lion’s Gate) was the first to be opened during the construction of the walls of Pisa in 1154. Its size, crowned by a round arch, testifies to its importance: it was intended for triumphal entrances and for the passage of wagons and carts laden with goods. The marble lion, originally placed in the niche of one of the towers defending the gate, was oriented towards the outside, guarding the city, most likely on the top of the now demolished tower. Outside, from the cemetery, a shelf can still be seen, presumably a temporary location of the statue. When, in 1406, the Florentines conquered Pisa, they moved the lion towards the corner of the walls and turned it inwards.
Maria Fischmann, the Cisanello sanatorium and the Jewish cemetery: behind the gate one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the world was founded in 1674, at the behest of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III de’ Medici. Along the outer side of the walls, between the entrance to the cemetery and the Porta Nuova, the epigraphs relating to the burials of the thirteenth-century Jewish community are still visible. Maria Di Vestea Fischmann, originally from Ukraine, was the first woman to graduate in medicine from the University of Pisa in 1893. Committed in various initiatives for women's emancipation, she founded the Pisan section of the Women's Association. In the field of medical research, together with her husband, hygienist Alfonso Di Vestea, she was responsible for the creation of the Institute of Hygiene in Pisa and the opening, in the eastern suburb of the city, of the Sanatorium of Cisanello, today one of the most important hospitals in Europe. She died in 1931 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery.

Last update: 01/04/2021
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