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The Leaning Tower of Pisa
(Torre Pendente di Pisa)

Also known as: Tower of Pisa
Also known as: The Bell Tower of Saint Mary
Built: 1173-1350
Renovated: 1373
Renovated: 1838-40
Type: Tower
Stories: 8
Maximum Height: 183 feet / 56 meters
Location: Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa, Italy
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U nlike many great buildings of the time, the Tower of Pisa does not serve a practical purpose. Rather, it was constructed as a boastful statement to Pisa's nemesis, Florence. At the time, the two were the modern equivalent of today's "superpowers" and ruled much of the world through their control of the sea. The two were also bitter rivals, fighting for supremacy. In fact, construction of the tower was interrupted because of wars in 1178 with Florence, 1185 with Florence again, and in 1284 with Genoa, It was during one of these breaks in construction that the tower's infamous tilt was discovered. It was only three stories tall at the time, but rather than abandon the project, construction continued until the tower reached its full height of 58.36 meters when measured from its foundation, or just 55 meters when measured from the ground. It was at this early stage, too, that the tower first served its intended purpose -- the ringing of bells. Documents have survived that show that a bell was first placed at the top in 1198. When construction continued, it was replaced by seven bells at the top in 1350. There are two theories about why the tower leans.

The most popular reason is because of the unstable soil beneath. Its of 14,700 metric tons of grey San Giuliano limestone is simply too much weight for the ground to hold. The local soil is mostly marshy clay and the tower exerts a force of 497 kPa on it. But some historians don't think the lean was an accident. They believe it is an intentional architectural design that produced the tilt. However, recent measurements and analysis of the soil have put this school of thought in doubt. Over the centuries there have been a number of attempts to straighten out the tower. One try in 1934, concrete was pumped underneath the tower. Another in 1838 involved excavating the earth and drying out the ground the tower rests on.. Recently, a pair of suspenders were attached to lead weights and slung over the tower which helped a bit. Architecturally, the building is summed up thusly by its official web site:<br><br>
"The six arcades, the base on which they are placed and the belfry above them subdivide the Tower into eight segments, known as orders. The interior order is animated by a band of blind arches placed on half columns. Underneath the arches are lozenged rhomboid decorations inlaid with coloured marbles, each containing a rosette in relief at the centre. The wall facing is interrupted by narrow round-arched lancet windows and, to the west, by the only door of accessa rectangular opening framed by an architrave. Above the architrave a falcate arch with a carved archivolt rests upon two capitals in continuation of the piers, forming an aedicule containing a fourteenth-century bust of the Madonna and Child. At the sides of the portal there are friezes with decorations showing animals and imaginary beasts. These, alongside a singular representation of ships (the Pisan port?), accompany the epigraph which commemorates the foundation of the building. The cylindrical belfry which concludes the building, of a smaller diameter than the floors below, bears an external decoration composed of closed and pierced lunettes, which rest alternately on pedestals and columns, whereby under every pedestal (bearing two closed lunnettes) there is a door, while the single pierced lunnettes supported on columns are lengthened to form windows. The belfry is reached via a narrow spiral stair, and in turn allows access to the summit of the tower by way of a stair cut into the wall."

  • The height of the tower varies over time, though it is usually around 183 feet tall.
  • The architect of the tower is unknown. However, it is believed that Bonanno Pisano and Guglielmo of Innsbruck, Austria may have designed it, or possibly Diotisalvi.
  • Precise location: 43°43'0" N x 10°22'60" E.
  • Construction began August 9, 1173.
  • There is an inscription at the entrance which reads "A.D. MCLXXIV. CAMPANILE HOC FUIT FUNDATUM MENSE AUGUSTI" (In the month of August, A.D. 1174, this bell tower was founded.)
  • It is said that Berta of Bernardo was the impetus behind the tower. Legend has it that when she died on 5 January, 1172 in her will she left 60 coins to pay for the first building blocks of the tower.
  • There are 293 steps to the sixth arcade.
  • August, 1173: Construction begins.

  • August, 1173: Construction begins.
  • 1998: The tower's lean is measured at 13 feet:- considered a dangerous pitch. Excavation work begins to correct some of the tilt.
  • May, 2001: Engineers have begun removing two pairs of steel suspenders intended to take some of the lean out of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The cables were attached in 1998 just in case something bad happened during excavation work undernearth the tower. The digging is intended to adjust the tilt of the Leaning Tower which had to be closed to the public because it was becoming dangerous.
  • January, 2001: The Tower now leans 11 feet, eight inches.
  • June, 2001: Engineers have finished tinkering with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After years of work they managed to straighten it enough to make it safe for tourists.
  • December 15, 2001: A month late, the tower re-opens to tourists.

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Quotations
Said Big Ben to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, "If you have the inclination, I have the time."

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bob dylan
Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 @ 6:56am
Rating: Five stars.
i agree with the amber chick

jadesmith
Friday, October 29th, 2010 @ 7:28am
Rating: Two stars.
I think everyone who is capable should climb the leaning tower at least once, you'll never know if you'll be able to again! They constantly monitor the steadfastness of the structure and won't let you up if it's not safe. I suggest making arrangements and scheduling your tickets ahead of time because they only let you up in shifts of about 20 min each and you can only go up with about 10 or so other people. If you just show up and try to get tickets, you could end up waiting a really long time. Also, don't go to the tower to buy tickets, go to the area where you check your purses (you can't bring them up with you) and buy your tickets there.http://www.historicaltravelguide.com/the-leaning-tower-of-pisa.html

judith
Thursday, May 27th, 2010 @ 4:00am
i love the tower of pisa, i am also doing a report on it

Jose Murguia
Friday, May 7th, 2010 @ 12:21pm
Rating: Five stars.
This sure is cool, if i do say so myself.

T-Man V.
Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 @ 12:34am
Rating: Three stars.
It is good enough to have been parodied.

Iqbal Muhammad Khan
Thursday, May 28th, 2009 @ 10:36am
Rating: Four stars.
Its an marvel of yesteryears.I pray to God that it should remain and stand as it is now , forever.

Travion
Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 @ 12:35pm
Rating: Five stars.
This is a awesome tower. Can't wait to see it myself.

Tin-Tin
Sunday, November 23rd, 2008 @ 9:04am
Rating: Five stars.
Its awesome how the tower is formed. i hope they will never change it. :)

Ashley
Monday, September 29th, 2008 @ 3:48pm
Rating: Five stars.
this is a beautiful building in a very lovely country i would like to have my honeymoon there!!!!!

Amanda
Sunday, February 24th, 2008 @ 12:22pm
Rating: Five stars.
I love Italy and I would love to live there when I grow up. Italy is a very exciting place to explore and learn about.

VIRGILIO BATERINA
Friday, February 15th, 2008 @ 1:51am
Rating: Five stars.
this is an amazing building...a historical icon that used to be a part of galileos exxperimants...the tilt is one of a kind and is the purpose of the tourists to visit...hope they will not attempt to make it stand as the other buildings do as long as the safety of the people in its vicinity is concerned...

Wellance
Wednesday, August 8th, 2007 @ 7:39pm
Rating: Five stars.
Id say that the building should stay the way it is for the people in the near future would all want to see it for themselves, i mean people its going to be apart of history so it should be kept alive and ad it is now, without being straightened out, i cant wait to visit the place :)

Saman
Monday, March 12th, 2007 @ 11:25pm
Rating: Five stars.
I love this tower I went there this summer it was unbelivable

Dina Rodriguez
Thursday, December 7th, 2006 @ 2:19pm
Rating: Five stars.
this is a magnificent and beatutiful tower. if you streightn out this structure is will take the towers history and historical meaning.

Brieanna Quin
Tuesday, December 5th, 2006 @ 6:39pm
Rating: Four stars.
When I first saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa I thought it so cool that when had to do a science project I did the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I was 8 when I went to Italy it is so pretty there!

shannon
Thursday, November 16th, 2006 @ 3:50am
Rating: Five stars.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is an exiting building to learn about and i hope they dont staightin it any more than what they have all readly

Micky Ogbodo
Friday, August 11th, 2006 @ 1:05pm
Rating: Three stars.
I alway dram to see the tower with my own eye. But only God knows when

Stephanie
Thursday, February 23rd, 2006 @ 12:56pm
Rating: Four stars.
I think it is really neat that it is still standing, and I can see why they shut it down from tourist. I am still trying to figure out who built/constructed it. What a neat tower!

Gabriella
Wednesday, January 18th, 2006 @ 5:54am
Rating: Five stars.
Mercoledi 18.Gennaio Belissima!.x

Mustafa Yousuf
Sunday, January 15th, 2006 @ 12:50pm
Rating: One star.
Its amazing that its still standing after world war2. And how the constructers kept it leaning

Shannon
Friday, January 13th, 2006 @ 12:13pm
Rating: Five stars.
This is a great building, i dont know why anyone would think it should be taking down, its great and one of a kind, im soo glad to do a report on this great building.

x..Sam..x
Thursday, December 8th, 2005 @ 1:06pm
Rating: Five stars.
I came back from Italy a couple of weeks ago and it was one of the most amazing experiences ever!! i loved every minute of it=) . x . x . x

pranav
Sunday, October 23rd, 2005 @ 11:24am
Rating: One star.
leaning tower of pisa,the one of the greatest wonder is earning its respect only because of its structure and imagination behind its leaning.i like it too much.

Tennille
Thursday, October 20th, 2005 @ 4:49am
Rating: Five stars.
it was the best thing i have seen in the whole world i had a fantastic time but to tell you the truth i was a bit frightened

terina
Thursday, July 14th, 2005 @ 3:22pm
Rating: Four stars.
this buildin is magnifcent and very amazing that its still standing even though it weighs so much and causes pressure in the soil grounds which is why it leans and it was one of the only buildings that werent bombed down in pisa through world warII furthermore it is the bell tower of a beautiful cathedral and if it wasnt leaning this tower wouldnt be a landmark cuz thats what makes it special

Kiley
Monday, May 23rd, 2005 @ 9:18pm
Rating: Five stars.
i personally don't want the tower to be straightened out. now that i know a lot more about the tower and its history, i think they should leave it the way it is.

NIKOLA ORDEV
Wednesday, May 18th, 2005 @ 12:43am
Rating: Five stars.
it is the best thing i've ever seen

Alessandro "mac" Maccari
Monday, April 18th, 2005 @ 10:16am
Rating: One star.
It's ugly, badly designed (the upper floors were added with an opposite tilt in order to balance) and misengineered. It's not even that great sight. I'm not sure why so many people go to see it.

Tom Paterson
Thursday, March 31st, 2005 @ 10:48am
Rating: Five stars.
The inclination of the leaning tower of pisa was measured to roughly 5.5 degrees in the early 90s. Extensive investigations and computer modelling revealed that if action was not taken then masonry on the second storey would fail and the tower would be lost forever. The commision in charge of the tower decided to extract soil from below the towers north side in order to allow the tower right itself. The target amount was a mere 0.5 degrees, invisiable to the naked eye but enough to relieve stresses and prevent the tower from falling. By 2002 this reduction was achieved and the tower is now stable so that it can be enjoyed by all for years to come.

Bubba Cleapor
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005 @ 8:01pm
Rating: Five stars.
people argue the fact that the leaning tower should or should not be straightend but i think that it should because yes its history and if we still want to see it and the next generation of kids then at least anchor it so that we will have that chance as well as our kids.

courtney
Wednesday, March 9th, 2005 @ 12:22pm
Rating: Five stars.
why straighten it when its part of italy's history?its definately a sight i'd love 2 see!

brandon
Sunday, February 27th, 2005 @ 5:22pm
Rating: Five stars.
i agree with jonathan and emily straitening th e tower would ruin history. the tower is very facinating.I had to do a report on it.

tristan manbevers
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005 @ 2:11pm
Rating: Five stars.
why straighten the leaning tower of pisa? then it what not even be famous anymore.

Jennifer
Thursday, February 10th, 2005 @ 1:17pm
Rating: Five stars.
Just by looking at pictures of the tower is awesome. I couldn't imagine how great it would be to see it for myself.

Jonathan
Wednesday, January 19th, 2005 @ 5:40pm
Rating: Five stars.
I have had to do a research paper on the tower, and I think that is it on of the neatest things and I agree with emily, if you try to straghten the tower you would ruin history

terresha
Friday, January 14th, 2005 @ 7:13pm
Rating: Four stars.
it is a wonderful building artistic and unique. it is good architechtual work.

Merey
Thursday, January 6th, 2005 @ 12:08pm
Rating: Five stars.
I love this building ! even if I haven t been 2 Italy I sitll think its great!

Nayahra
Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004 @ 9:26pm
Rating: Five stars.
A torre de Pisa e MUITO linda. Eu acho que foi uma idea esperta da parte deles (tentando arruma a torre). Agora todo mundo pode ve a torre porque si eles nao tinha arrumado a torre, ela ia cai.

Farrah
Tuesday, December 14th, 2004 @ 4:39pm
Rating: Five stars.
This is an amazing building that people are trying to restore so that many people in the future can enjoy it. They aren't trying to staighten it completly, they are just making it safe enough to keep it standing and so people can still visit it in the future, we don't want tosee it fall, it's just to beautiful, nor do we want it rebuilt because it is a piece of history that should be kept

Michael
May 27th, 2003
I think the tower should be brought down and rebuilt to how it was meant to be built.

Hillary
April 10th, 2003
I Just got back from Europe And it was such an exciting adventure. I was so glad that I got to explore Italy and the town of Pisa. The Leaning tower was such a fantastic sight to see. And it was so Exhilerating climbing all those stairs. I am so glad that that tower did get fixed so it didnt fall over, also because they didnt do it all the way straight.

Danial
March 21st, 2003
In 1838, the architect Alessandro Della Gherardesca dug a walkway called the catino around the base of the tower to expose the buried foundation steps and column plinths. Because the catino was below the water tablenon the south side, the excavation triggered an inrush of water, with a subsequent half-degree increase in the lean. He acctually made it worst. This was probably because of the lack of knowledge of Geoengineering then. However the straightening had to be done, it was gonna cause a catastrophy! anyways, 10inches is not obvious :) doesnt make a difference on the naked eye!

Ally
January 11th, 2003
They had to fix the lean! Do you want the building to just topple over alltogether? Then how could anyone enjoy it?

emily
January 5th, 2003
Straighting the tower is ruining history. The lean has a story and is a major part of it's history-and it's name!

Belle
December 4th, 2002
I went before they straightened it and climbing those tilted stairs was such an exhilerating experience! Still, if it was dangerous, it was worth it to straighten it a bit so that others can also enjoy that spiraling walking-on-the-ceiling sensation.

Amber Sutter
November 26th, 2002
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is history, why would you want to fix something so beautiful, it was meant to happen, so just let it be :)

Malorie Dunn
November 4th, 2002
The leaning tower of pisa is very awesome thing to see in person. I was in Italy for march break this year... and I had an amazing time :)

Justin
September 9th, 2002
i hope they don't to straigten the tower anymore. its really one of a kind


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