Leaning Tower of Pisa: History and Facts

Leaning Tower of Pisa: History and Facts

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Our planet is full of wonders and surprises. Some wonders are natural like Chocolate Hills, Socotra Island in Yamen, Jeita Grotto in Lebanon, Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Fingal’s Cave in Scotland, and etc. Some Wonders are man-made like Giza Pyramid in Egypt, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Colosseum in Rome, Machu Picchu in Peru, and etc. Leaning Tower of Pisa also one of the man-made wonder of the world which is standing on a grassy field known as “Square of Miracles” in Pisa, Italy. Pisa is a small town in Italy and is a legendary town; one of the most famous tourist places in this region. This town is located on the western coast of Italy, only 20 minutes from the Ligurian Sea and has great transport links to Florence, Livorno and La Spezia. With a population of just 91000, it is one of the smaller cities in the Tuscany region of Italy, but has historically been one of the most important and influential. Leaning Tower is one of the historic and amazing places in Pisa. The leaning tower is also known as the ‘campanile’ or ‘a bell tower’.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the four buildings that make up the cathedral complex in Pisa, Italy. It called Campo dei Miracoli or Piazza dei Miracoli, which means “Square of Miracles”. The first building constructed at Campo dei Miracoli was the cathedral (Duomo di Pisa), which rests on a white marble pavement and is an impressive example of Romanesque architecture. The next building added was the Pisa baptistery just west of the dome. Then work on the Tower began. Before the work on the Tower was completed, the cemetery, Campo Santo, was built.

Campo dei Miracoli or Piazza dei Miracoli of Pisa is the most splendiferous assemblage of Romanesque architecture in Italy. Faced in gray-and-white striped marble and bristling with columns and arches, the cathedral, baptistery, cemetery and the Tower are included in the Piazza del Duomo UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was declared in 1987.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is famous because it is not vertical. It is nearly 5.5 degrees lean (about 15 feet [4.5 metres]) from the perpendicular in the late 20th century. Construction of the tower occurred in three stages over 200 years. On 9 August 1173, the foundations of the tower were laid. Work on the ground floor of the white marble campanile began on 14 August 1173, during a period of military success and prosperity. When second-floor construction was in progress in 1178, the tower began to sink and the reason was the foundation was constructed on soft ground. The foundation was a mere three-metre, set in the weak, unstable subsoil, a design that was flawed from the beginning. The Leaning Tower doesn’t fall because its center of gravity is carefully kept within its base. Construction was subsequently halted for almost a century, as the Republic of Pisa was almost continually engaged in battles with Genoa, Lucca, and Florence.

Leaning Tower of Pisa: History and Facts
Leaning Tower of Pisa: History and Facts

Almost after a century in 1272, construction was resumed under Giovanni Di Simone. The engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other to compensate the tilt. Because of this, the tower is curved. Construction was halted again in 1284 when the Pisans were defeated by the Genoans in the Battle of Meloria. The project was plagued with interruptions, as engineers sought solutions to the leaning problem. The seventh floor was completed in 1319 and the bell-chamber was finally added in 1372. It was built by Tommaso di Andrea Pisano. Over the next four centuries, the tower’s seven bells were installed; the largest weighed more than 3,600 kg (nearly 8,000 pounds) was installed in 1655. By the early 20th century, however, the heavier bells were silenced as it was believed that their movement could potentially worsen the tower’s lean. At the top of this magnificent marble Tower, you can still find its original 7 brass bells.

The height of the tower is 55.86 metres (183.27 feet) from the ground on the low side and 56.67 metres (185.93 feet) on the high side. The width of the walls at the base is 2.44 m (8 ft 0.06 in). Its weight is estimated at 14,500 metric tons (16,000 short tons). There are 296 steps spiral staircase inside the tower leading to the top. The seventh floor has two fewer steps on the north-facing staircase.

With 207 columns ranged around eight stories including the chamber for the bells, Leaning Tower of Pisa looks like a massive ‘wedding cake’. Although only a third as high as the Washington Monument, it was a miracle of medieval engineering, probably the tallest bell towers in Europe. 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. The top of the leaning tower of Pisa is about 17 feet off the vertical.

By 1990 the tilt had reached 5.5 degrees and the tower was closed and all the bells silenced as engineers undertook a major straightening project. Much restoration work has been done to stop it from falling over completely. The foundations have been strengthened by the injection of cement grout and various types of bracing and reinforcement. The work was completed in May 2001 and the structure was reopened to visitors. The tower continued to straighten without further excavation, until in May 2008 sensors showed that the motion had finally stopped, at a total improvement of 19 inches (48 cm). Engineers expected the tower to remain stable for at least 200 years. There was scaffolding all around the tower for 20 years. On 26 April 2011, the last bit of scaffolding was removed which reduced the tilt to 3.97 degrees so that the tower can be seen properly again.

Today the Leaning Tower gathers over 5 million visitors each year and it makes about 21 million Euro per year. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the amazing and wonderful man-made structures. There are many sightseeing places in Pisa and in Italy. You can enjoy the food also. Truly, not only the Leaning Tower of Pisa but also the Pisa city will mesmerize you. It is such a historic and beautiful city.

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