Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy (with Map & Photos)

Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most significant icons in all of Italy. His figure has served as the scenery for millions of travelers who have made Pisa tourism one of the highlights of their vacations in the Alpine country. The fame is such that even Superman, in his third film, makes a stop to straighten it out.

Actually the tower is the bell tower (campanile) of the Duomo or cathedral of Pisa. In Italy it is common that the bell tower is not integrated into the church building, and good examples of this are the bell tower of Santa MarĂ­a del Fiore, Florence Cathedral, or that of San Marco in Venice.

Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy 2
Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy

The Tower of Pisa is actually the bell tower of the Duomo Cathedral of Pisa, which together with the baptistery and the cemetery form the complex that Unesco declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.

Many believe that if it were not for its inclination, the Tower of Pisa would be one of many, a monument without a special attraction. The truth is that her figure has made her famous, but it is still a work of architectural art, with a delicate carving work.

Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy 3
Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy

The Tower of Pisa and the classic photo

It is hard to resist taking a photo holding the tower of Pisa, playing with the perspective that it seems that we are holding the leaning tower.

History of the Tower of Pisa

Construction and completion was an odyssey and a headache almost from the start. The style that prevailed in the 12th century was Pisan Romanesque and to accompany the impressive cathedral, white marble was used in the bell tower.

The design contemplated a circular tower with a gallery of small columns that in a spiral shape follow each other upwards.

The authorship and execution of the tower is unknown, and while some experts grant paternity to the Pisan Diotisalvi who had carried out the baptistery at the same time; others attribute it to Gherardi, and the chronicler Giorgio Vasari gave it to Bonanno Pisano, which could coincide with the appearance of a tombstone with the name of Bonanno.

The tower has eight levels, including the bell tower, with a circular base of blind arches supported by fifteen columns. Six of the levels have open semicircular arches.

Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy 4
Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy

In 1173 it began to rise and just five years later, the tower began to lean, when only three of the eight levels were finished. The work stopped and the great builders of the time were questioned about how the construction could continue.

After one hundred years, Giovanni di Simone and Giovanni Pisano took over the task of continuing their elevation. His curious formula to counteract the inclination was to give more weight to the south face, in front of the north, lighter and towards where the tower fell.

The presumed solution did nothing more than move the problem to the other side, since the tower that gained 4 more levels, tilted again, but this time to the south.

Two hundred years later, in 1372, the tower was finally finished with the closure of the bell tower by Tommasso di Andrea Pisano, reaching 55 meters in height. The diameter of the cylindrical tower is 15,484 meters.

The bell tower is crowned with a set of seven bells that, like the musical notes, function as a musical record for the calls to mass. The largest bell is known as L'Assunta and the smallest the Pascuarecia.

Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy inside
Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy

But the problem of inclination was not solved and during the following years and centuries the tower was inclined at a rate of 2 or 3 millimeters each year.

During the 20th century, the fascist dictator Mussolini tried unsuccessfully to reverse the tilt, but his attempt by adding cement to the foundations did not help and even worsened the situation by sinking the tower further into the ground. Precisely the invasion of Italy by the allied troops was about to erase the tower from the map as it was considered an ideal point for snipers. Allied bombardments severely damaged the cemetery but the tower was fortunately saved.

In 1964 the government of the Republic of Italy made an international call. The solution to stop the leaning and possible fall of the Tower of Pisa became little more than a matter of state, with proposals from all over the world from architects and engineers. Some grated the jocular or supposed a millionaire and unaffordable expense, so that in 1990 the tourist visit was prohibited.

Finally, it was decided to extract part of the subsoil on the north side (more than 70 tons), the opposite of the slope (south). In this way it was possible to stop its progressive inclination for the first time. In December 2001 the reopening of the tower was announced, which had recovered 40 cm of inclination, and returned to the inclination of 200 years ago.

Leaning Tower of Pisa Map