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PIROT (Turkish Shehr-Kcey)

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 643 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PIROT (Turkish Shehr-Kcey), a Servian town, 122m. from the Bulgarian frontier at Tsaribrod, on the railway line between Nish and Sofia. Pop. (1900), 10,428. Pirot is the seat of the prefecture for the department of the same name, with a tribunal, several schools and a custom-house. It is the only 'roper industrial town in Servia, having numerous small factories for the manufacture of thin cloth (shayak), woollen braid (gaytan), and especially carpets. Its carpets have a great reputation in the Balkan Peninsula for their quaint designs, durability and freshness of colour. Pirot has a medieval fortress, believed to have been built on the site of the Roman fortress Quimedava, on the military road leading from Old Naissus to Philippopolis. The town is of great strategical importance, for which reason the Russian plenipotentiaries at the Berlin congress (1878) stubbornly tried to include it within the Bulgarian frontier, while Austria and some other Powers insisted that it should be given to Servia. In the war between Servia and Bulgaria in 1885 the Bulgarians occupied and held it until the, conclusion of 9eace. and 49 M. west of Florence by rail. Pop. (1881), 42,779; (1906j, 61,279. It still retains its ancient walls, 64 m. in circuit, and is defended by a citadel on the south-west. The principal streets run alongside the river, and are lined with fine buildings. Besides the cathedral, the baptistery and the famous leaning tower, the city possesses several notable churches, as the Renaissance church of the Tuscan order of St Stephen, built in 1562 from plans by Vasari; San Niccolo, with a four-storeyed tower (1230), built by Niccola Pisano, and the tomb of John of Swabia, the parricide; Santa Caterina (1262); Santa Maria della Spina, in the Italo-Gothic style, built in 1230 and restored in 1872; San Sepolchro, erected in 1150 by Diotisalvi; San Francesco, with frescoes byTaddeo Gaddi; and the basilica of San Michele (rot8). Amongst the secular buildings may be mentioned the royal palace; the archiepiscopal palace; the palace of the order of St Stephen, built by Niccola Pisano and reconstructed by Vasari; the Upezzinghi (formerly Lanfreducci) palace, built of Carrara marble in 1590; the Lanfranchi, Agostini and other palaces; the university (1472); a large hospital (1258); and fine market halls. There are statues to Cosimo I. (by Francavilla), Arch-duke Leopold, and Ferdinand I. The city possesses also an academy of the fine arts, with a gallery of paintings; and the university a library of 120,000 volumes, a natural history museum, botanical garden and agricultural schools. The university, founded in 1338, has faculties of law, medicine, mathematics and philosophy and literature, and is to this day one of the most famous in Italy. The architects of the cathedral were Boschetto and Rinaldo, both Italians, probably Pisans. It is in plan a Latin cross, with an internal length of 3111 ft. and a breadth of 252 ft. The nave, 109 ft. high, has double vaulted aisles and the transepts single aisles; and at the intersection of nave and transepts there is a cupola. The basilica is still the predominent type, but the influence of the domed churches of Constantinople and the mosques of Palermo is also apparent. The pillars which support the nave are of marble from Elba and Giglio; those of the side aisles are the spoils of ancient Greek and Roman buildings brought by the Pisan galleys. Extern-ally the finest part of the building is the west front, in which the note struck by the range of arches running round the base is repeated by four open arcades. Of the four doors three are by John of Bologna, who wag greatly helped by Francavilla, Tacca and others; that of the south side, of much older date, is generally supposed to be the work of Bonanno. Of the interior decorations it is enough to mention the altars of the nave, said to be after designs by Michelangelo, and the mosaics in the dome and the apse. which were among the latest designs of Cimabue. The baptistery was completed only in 1278, and marred in the 14th century by the introduction of Gothic details. The building is a circle too ft. in diameter, and is covered with a cone-surmounted dome 190 ft. high on which stands a statue of St Raniero. The lowest range of semicircular arches consists of twenty columns and the second of sixty; and above this is a row of eighteen windows in the same style separated by as many pilasters. In the interior, which is supported by four pilasters and eight columns, the most striking features are the octagonal font and the hexagonal pulpit, erected in 126o by Niccola Pisano. The campanile or " leaning tower of Pisa " is a round tower, the noblest, according to Freeman, of the southern Romanesque. Though the walls at the base are 13 ft. thick, and at the top about half as much, they are constructed throughout of marble. The basement is surrounded by a range of semicircular arches sup-ported by fifteen columns, and above this rise six arcades with thirty columns each. The eighth storey, which contains the bells, is of much smaller diameter than the rest of the tower, and has only twelve columns. The height of the tower is 179 ft., but the ascent is easy by a stair in the wall, and the visitor hardly perceives the inclination till he reaches the top and from the lower edge of the gallery looks " down " along the shaft receding to its base. The tower leans or deviates from the perpendicular, to a striking extent, which has gradually increased: it was 151 ft. out of the perpendicular when measured in 1829, and 161 ft. in 1910. There is no reason to suppose that the architects, Bonanno and William of Innsbruck, intended that the campanile should be built in an oblique position; it would appear to have assumed it while the work was still in progress. The foundations are not more than to ft. deep, and their circumference only that of the tower. The Campo Santo, lying to the north of the cathedral, owes its origin to Archbishop Ubaldo ' In Strabo's time it was only 2 m. away, but the increase of the delta at the mouth of the river has since then pushed forward the coast-line.(1188-1200), who made the spot peculiarly sacred by bringing fifty-three shiploads of earth from Mount Calvary. The building, erected in the Italian Gothic style between 1278 and 1283, by Giovanni Pisano, is of special interest chiefly for its famous frescoes. There are numerous industries, the most important being the manufacture of cottons. In the vicinity are the royal stud-farm (horses and dromedaries) of Cascine di San Rossore, and the mineral baths of San Giuliano, alkaline-ferruginous, with temperature 91.40 to ro5.8° Fahr. At the mouth of the Arno, joined to the city by a steam tramway, is the seaside resort of Marina di Pisa, also known as Bocca d'Arno, a well-known centre for landscape painters. The old town occupied the site of the ancient Pisae on the right bank of the Arno. The foundation of Pisae is by tradition ascribed to a very remote period, and it was often (possibly only owing to the similarity of name) believed to have been founded from Pisae in Elis. It is first mentioned in history as the place at which a Roman army from Sardinia landed in 225 B.C., its harbour being at the mouth of the south branch of the Arno, north of Livorno. Being situated on the coast road (Via Aemilia) it was important as a frontier fortress against Liguria, to which, and not to Etruria, it really belonged, perhaps, up to the time of Sulla, the actual boundary lying between it and Vada Volaterrana (mod. Vada). It became a colony in 18o B.C., and was important for the fertility of its territory, for its quarries, and for the timber it yielded for ship-building. Augustus gave it the name of Colonia Julia Pisana; his grandsons Gaius and Lucius were patrons of the colony, and after their death monuments were erected in their honour, as is recorded in two long inscriptions still extant. Greek vases have been found within the city itself, seeming to point to the presence of Etruscan tombs (G. Ghirardini in Notizie degli Scavi, 1892, 147); but no remains now exist except of the Roman period—some scanty ruins of baths and of a temple, while the Piazza dei Cavalieri follows the outline of the ancient theatre. See E. Bormann, Corp. inscr. lat. xi. 272 (1888). Little is known of the history of Pisa during the barbarian invasions, but it is an ascertained fact that it was one of the first towns to regain its independence. Under the Byzantine dominion Pisa, like many other of the maritime cities of Italy, profited by the weakness of the government at Constantinople to reassert its strength. And even during the first years of the harsh Lombard rule the need recognized by these oppressors of defending the Italian coast from the attacks of the Byzantines was favourable to the development of the Pisan navy. Few particulars are extant concerning the real condition of the town; but we occasionally find Pisa mentioned, almost as though it were an independent city, at moments when Italy was overwhelmed by the greatest calamities. According to Amari's happy expression, " it was already independent by sea, while still enslaved on land." Its prosperity notably declined after the establishment of the Lombard rule and under the Franks. It again began to flourish under the marquises of Tuscany, who governed it in the name of the emperor. In roo3 we find records of a war between Pisa and Lucca, which, according to Muratori, was the first waged between Italian cities in the middle ages. But the military development and real importance of Pisa in the 11th century must be attributed to the continuous and desperate struggle it maintained against the tide of Saracenic invasion from Sicily. And, although the numerous legends and fables of the old chroniclers disguise the true history of this struggle, they serve to attest the importance of Pisa in those days. In 1004 the Saracens forced the gates and sacked a quarter of the town; and in x011 they renewed the attack. But the Pisans repulsed them and assumed the offensive in Calabria, Sicily, and even in Africa. Still more memorable was the expedition afterwards undertaken by the united forces of Pisa and Genoa against Mogahid, better known in the Italian chronicles as Mugeto. This Moslem chief had made himself master of Sardinia, and was driven thence by the allied fleets in 1015. Again invading the island, he was again attacked and defeated by the same adversaries, leaving a
End of Article: PIROT (Turkish Shehr-Kcey)
ALEXIS PIRON (1689-1773)

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