The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy

In Italian, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is Torre Pendente di Pisa. It is a freestanding bell tower located in the city of Pisa in Italy.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa took 344 years to build, beginning in August 1173. Nobody seems to be able to pinpoint the identity of who the actual original architect really was.

Pisa tower— Photo by Maugli
Pisa tower— Photo by Maugli

Like its name suggests, it actually does lean to one side. The tower started to lean during construction because the foundation was built on soft ground that had difficulty supporting the weight. The lean became worse as construction continued for several decades.

The Structure

The Leaning Tower of Pisa ~ http://suitcasesandsunsets.com/the-leaning-tower-of-pisa.html
The Leaning Tower of Pisa

With 207 columns ranged around eight stories, Tower of Pisa looks like a massive wedding cake knocked precariously askew by a clumsy giant guest. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was designed as a circular bell tower that would stand 185 feet high. It is constructed of white marble.

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Square of Miracles, Tuscany, Italy ~ http://suitcasesandsunsets.com/the-leaning-tower-of-pisa.html
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Square of Miracles, Tuscany, Italy

The tower has eight stories, including the chamber for the bells. Each bell represents one note of the musical major scale. The bottom story consists of 15 marble arches. Each of the next six stories contains 30 arches that surround the tower. The final story is the bell chamber itself, which has 16 arches.

There is a 297 step spiral staircase inside the tower leading to the top.

Stabilization Efforts

The tower is also slightly curved from the attempts by various architects to keep it from leaning more or falling over.

In the 1920s, the foundations of the tower were injected with cement grouting that has stabilized the tower to some extent. Until recent years, tourists were not allowed to climb the staircase inside the tower due to consolidation work.

Pisa Tower Today

Now, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is open again and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions. In 2008, engineers stated that the Tower had stopped moving. This is the first time in its history that it has not been slowly leaning further to one side.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Many ideas have been suggested to straighten the Tower of Pisa, including taking it apart stone by stone and rebuilding it at a different location. The people of Pisa have said they would rather see it fall over than be straightened.

Leaning Tower of Pisa in Tuscany, a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the most recognized and famous buildings in the world.
Leaning Tower of Pisa in Tuscany, a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the most recognized and famous buildings in the world.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Also included in this designation were the cathedral, cemetery, and the baptistery.

(See: Tuscany, Italy Travel Guide)