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Palazzo della Carovana

Home to one of Italy’s finest universities, the former headquarters of Pisa’s order of knights is still the most bustling building on the huge Piazza dei Cavalieri.

Overlooking Pisa’s second-largest square is one of the city’s most notable works of architecture. Designed by the famous Giorgio Vasari and built between 1562 and 1564, the Palazzo della Carovana is the former headquarters of Pisa’s knights. See this remarkable building on one of the city’s many walking tours. 

The palace was named after the training, called la Carovana, undertaken within its walls. The palace is a stunning example of Renaissance architecture. Today, the building remains a center for education, but of a very different kind. Since the mid-19th century the palace has been the premises of the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, one of the most highly regarded universities in Italy. 

Join a walking tour of the old city and learn about the knights that studied and resided within the palace and the architecture of Giorgio Vasari and his role in redeveloping the Knight’s Square. Keep an eye out for the detailed sculptures carved into the palace exterior, each depicting one of the six Medici grand dukes. Other decorations include zodiacal symbols and symbolic Italian figures. A large statue of Cosimo I, the first Duke of Tuscany, stands just outside the palace.

As the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa is an operational university, you can only access parts of the building. Climb the twin staircases that lead to the main entrance before moving through the historic halls. While the building has been dramatically restructured to accommodate the university, some of the halls still contain paintings dating back to the 16th century.

The Palazzo della Carovana is located on the Knight’s Square in Pisa’s Santa Maria quarter, which is in the heart of Pisa’s historic district. It can be reached on foot or by bus from the other major tourist attractions. Parking spaces in the area are scarce, but some metered street parking can be found. There is no fee to visit the square or the palace and it can be seen daily, but some parts of the school are not accessible to the public.


Guide to Exploring around Palazzo della Carovana


Map

Best Lodging Options Near Palazzo della Carovana

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Grand Hotel Bonanno ¥8,032
Grand Hotel Bonanno

Grand Hotel Bonanno

Via Carlo Francesco Gabba, 17, Pisa, PI
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated near the airport, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Leaning Tower, Piazza dei Miracoli, and Pisa Baptistry. Pisa Royal Palace and Cathedral of Pisa are also within 15 minutes. Pisa San Rossore Station is 7 minutes by foot and Pisa Central Station is 22 minutes.

    Hotel Terminus & Plaza ¥9,121
    Hotel Terminus & Plaza

    Hotel Terminus & Plaza

    Via Colombo, 45, Pisa, PI
       
      3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Pisa City Centre, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Cisanello Hospital, Leaning Tower, and University of Pisa. Piazza del Duomo and Cathedral of Pisa are also within 1 mi (2 km). Pisa Central Station is only a 3-minute walk.

      Hotel Bologna ¥9,928
      Hotel Bologna

      Hotel Bologna

      Via Mazzini 57, Pisa, PI
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Pisa City Centre, this hotel is steps from Mezzogiorno and Leaning Tower. Pisa Royal Palace and Knight's Square are also within 15 minutes. Pisa Central Station is 8 minutes by foot and Pisa San Rossore Station is 25 minutes.

        Royal Victoria Hotel ¥8,799
        Royal Victoria Hotel

        Royal Victoria Hotel

        Lungarno Pacinotti 12, Pisa, PI
           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Pisa City Centre, this hotel is steps from Palazzo Agostini and Leaning Tower. Pisa Royal Palace and Knight's Square are also within 5 minutes. Pisa Central Station is 12 minutes by foot and Pisa San Rossore Station is 22 minutes.

          Grand Hotel Duomo ¥12,494
          Grand Hotel Duomo

          Grand Hotel Duomo

          Via Santa Maria 94, Pisa, PI
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Pisa City Centre, this hotel is steps from University Hospital of Santa Chiara, Leaning Tower, and Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. Cathedral of Pisa and Piazza dei Miracoli are also within 5 minutes. Pisa San Rossore Station is 13 minutes by foot and Pisa Central Station is 19 minutes.

            NH Pisa ¥9,891
            NH Pisa

            NH Pisa

            Piazza Stazione 2, Pisa, PI
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Pisa City Centre, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Mezzogiorno, Pisa Royal Palace, and Leaning Tower. National Museum of San Matteo and Knight's Square are also within 1 mi (2 km). Pisa Central Station is only a 1-minute walk.

              Hotel Pisa Tower ¥10,605
              Hotel Pisa Tower

              Hotel Pisa Tower

              via Andrea Pisano 23, Pisa, PI
                 
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Pisa City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of University Hospital of Santa Chiara, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, and Orto Botanico di Pisa. Pisa San Rossore Station is 7 minutes by foot and Pisa Central Station is 23 minutes.

                Hotel Galilei ¥9,535
                Hotel Galilei

                Hotel Galilei

                Via Darsena 1, Angolo Via Aurelia, Pisa, PI
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Mezzogiorno and Leaning Tower. Pisa Royal Palace and Knight's Square are also within 2 mi (3 km). Pisa Central Station is 26 minutes by foot.