First of all, let’s find out what a “baptistery” is! In Christian architecture, a baptisterium was a structure surrounding the baptismal font, where the rite of baptism was held. In the most representative cases, the baptistery was separate from the church (in the early centuries of the Christian era, newborns, who were not yet baptized, were not admitted to liturgical celebrations in places of worship, hence the origin of the separation of the two structures) yet placed beside or in front of it.
The layout is usually octagonal, representing the eighth day of the week – the day of recreation, after the six days of creation and the Day of Rest, i.e. Sunday – but there are also different polygonal structures or circular ones (as in Pisa). Inside you find the baptismal font, usually a marble basin to allow a partial immersion. (When immersion made way for sprinkling, these large, old baptisteries, separate from the church building, were no longer necessary.) Now, a quick tour to get to know the beautiful Tuscan baptisteries!