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Leaning Tower of Pisa

Name Tower of Pisa, Lean­ing Tower of Pisa, Bell Tower of Pisa
Ital­ian Name Torre Pen­dente di Pisa
Location City of Pisa, Italy
Con­struc­tion Started in 1173; fin­ished in 1399
Orig­i­nal Height 60 m. (196.85 ft.)
Actual Height 56.67 m. (185.93 ft.) — high­est side; 55.86 m. (183.27 ft.)- low­est side
Stairs 297 steps
Weight 14,500 tonnes (31,967,028 lbs.)
Tourists / Year 1,000,000+

 

Gen­eral Info:

The Lean­ing Tower of Pisa is located next to the Cathe­dral of Pisa, in Piazza dei Mira­coli (Square of mir­a­cles) in the city of Pisa, Italy.

The con­struc­tion of the Lean­ing Tower of Pisa, and espe­cially its com­ple­tion, rep­re­sents the last ele­ment in the com­pli­ment of the cer­e­mo­nial com­plex of mon­u­ments that enrich the Piazza dei Mira­colo (“Square of Miracles”).

The com­plex included four mon­u­ments in the Ital­ian city of Pisa: the Bap­tistry, the Cathe­dral of Pisa (Il Duomo di Pisa), the Mon­u­men­tal Ceme­tery and the Bell (now known as “Lean­ing”) Tower of Pisa.

Archi­tec­ture style: The Lean­ing Tower of Pisa is of medieval archi­tec­ture, in Romanesque style.

Con­struc­tion time: The con­struc­tion of Tower of Pisa began in 1173 and was com­pleted late in the 14th cen­tury, in 1399

Design: It is thought (although not sure) that there were sev­eral archi­tects and engi­neers who designed the lean­ing Tower of Pisa. See the His­tory of the Lean­ing Tower of Pisa page for more detailed infor­ma­tion on the builders and archi­tects cred­ited with the tower’s construction.

Inter­est­ing facts:

  • The town of Pisa got its name in 600 BC from a Greek word mean­ing “marshy land.”
  • There exist sev­eral other tow­ers in Pisa that also lean: the bell tower at the church of St. Michele dei Scalzi, and the bell tower at the church of St. Nicola.
  • The cathe­dral and bap­tis­tery are also sink­ing, due to the marshy nature of the local land.
  • Galileo was bap­tized in the bap­tis­tery in 1565.
  • The foun­da­tion of the ceme­tery, Campo Santo, is made up of 53 shiploads of earth that were brought back from the Hill of Cal­vary in Jerusalem.

Mea­sure­ments:

The orig­i­nal com­pleted height of the Tower of Pisa is 60 meters (196.85 feet). Actu­ally the tower’s present height is 56.67 m. (185.93 ft.) on the high­est side and 55,86 m. (183.27 ft.) on the low­est side.

  • The out­side diam­e­ter of the lean­ing Tower of Pisa’s base is 15.484 meters (50.80 feet).
  • Width of walls at base is 2.4384 meters (8.0 feet).
  • Weight of tower is approx­i­mately 14,500 tonnes (30,864.7 pounds).
  • There are 297 steps from the bot­tom to the top of the Pisa tower.

 Sta­bi­liza­tion Projects:

The Lean­ing Tower is been sub­ject to sev­eral restora­tion and sta­bi­liza­tion projects; not only due to the tow­ers unsta­ble nature, but also due to its age and expo­sure to wind and rain.

The first sta­bi­liza­tion project was ini­ti­ated in the 1960’s, when the engi­neers real­ized that the tilt was increas­ing in com­bi­na­tion with a softer foun­da­tion. Many meth­ods for sta­bi­liz­ing the Lean­ing Tower were dis­cussed, includ­ing the addi­tion of 800 tons of lead coun­ter­weights to the raised end of the base.

Later, in 1990, a mas­sive restora­tion and sta­bi­liza­tion project was ini­tial­ized. Dur­ing this project, the Lean­ing Tower was closed to the pub­lic and the bells were removed to relieve some weight. The plan was to straighten up the tower by remov­ing 38 cubic meters of soil from under­neath the raised end using spe­cial drills. In order to keep the Lean­ing Tower sta­ble dur­ing this dar­ing project, sev­eral heavy cables were cinched around the third level and anchored sev­eral hun­dred meters away. Apart­ments and houses in the path of the tower were also vacated for safety.

In 2001, the project was finally com­pleted and the Lean­ing Tower had been straight­ened by 45 cen­time­ters, return­ing to the exact posi­tion it had in 1838. After these mas­sive recon­struc­tion and sta­bi­liza­tion efforts, the tower was reopened to the pub­lic in Decem­ber 2001 and was declared sta­ble for at least another 300 years.

 Why visit the Lean­ing Tower of Pisa ?

The 56 meter high Lean­ing Tower of Pisa is world famous, not only for its beau­ti­ful looks, but mainly for its heavy tilt. It is one of the heav­i­est lean­ing tow­ers in the world – and for sure the most famous one.

Prior to restora­tion work per­formed between 1990 and 2001, the Lean­ing Tower leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees, but the tower now leans about 4 degrees. This means that the top of the tower is almost four meters from where it would stand if the tower were per­fectly vertical.

If one feels ambi­tious, and isn’t afraid of heights, a trip to the top of the Lean­ing Tower is highly rec­om­mend. While almost 300 steps will take some time to climb, it pro­vides a great view of Piazza dei Mira­colli and the city of Pisa.

Today, the Lean­ing Tower of Pisa is the region’s num­ber one tourist des­ti­na­tion – attract­ing peo­ple from all over the world. It is listed as a UNESCO World Her­itage Site and with­out a doubt one of the world’s most famous towers.

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