The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The leaning tower of Pisa is an unforgettable sight in the Italian city of Pisa in Tuscany, Italy. It was admitted to the World Heritage Unesco list, meaning it is one of the world’s greatest beauties. While most of us are familiar with the curious appearance of this old, leaning tower, few are familiar with the fascinating history of the monument. Read on to discover everything there is to know about the famous leaning tower.

The tower of Pisa was built as a bell tower for Pisa’s central church. At the time that the project started, Pisa was a rich Italian port which could afford to put money into expensive religious buildings.

The tower is typical of the architecture of the time (leaning notwithstanding!) with its Romanesque style and white marble foundations. The building itself is testament to the richness of the city at the time of its building, as it required nearly 15. 000 tonnes of white marble, a rare and expensive material.

Construction for the tower of Pisa (which was not always called “leaning”!) started in 1173. From the onset, technical problems caused it to start leaning, which architect after architect tried to understand and fix. When it was finally completed in the mid-1300s, the tower already had a pronounced lean.

In a way, the tower was doomed to lean from the onset and some argue that it should not logically be able to stand at all. It was built on very soft ground, which would cause any building to lean and possibly topple over. Moreover, the soil in this part of the city also moves for geological reasons making it yet more unstable. The tower has a very shallow foundation, as the water underground stopped the architect from giving it a deeper foundation. While architects managed to make the tower stand despite its strong lean, the tower is actually falling year after year. To this day, the tower keeps leaning a bit more each year. It is now over five metres off from the way it would stand correctly.

There is a lot of mystery concerning the building of the tower, and a lot of it concerns the architects. Some of the known architects involved are Bonanno Pisano, Giovani di Simone and Tommaso Pisano. However, the project took years and another dozen architects were involved whose identity was never revealed. These architects although they never rectified the lean that became noticeable after the first story was built, were very creative about trying to hide that flaw. For example, they placed columns and arches on the other side of the tower taller than on its Northern side in order to even out what was becoming a rapidly emerging lean.

Nowadays, the lean which architects tried so hard to hide during the nearly 200 years that it took to build the tower, is what makes it so special. It is hard to imagine hoards of tourists rushing to the tower each year and taking photographs of themselves propping it up with their hands were it a completely normal, straight tower. With its strange history and architectural curiosities, the leaning tower of Pisa is one of the most interesting and beloved sights in the whole of Italy, and of the world.

Thanks to Solar Panel Contractor Cary for this interesting article!