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The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Pisa TowerRegarded widely as one of the greatest wonders of the world, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is situated in the city of Pisa, Italy. Italy has an important place in the history of the world, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa just adds more to the country’s rich history. The Tower was originally built as a marble campanile, or bell tower, for Pisa’s cathedral, located in the ‘Campo dei Miracoli’.

The Tower was given its name because it does not stand erect like other towers, but ‘leaned’ at an angle of 5.5 degrees from the perpendicular. This is because of the uneven settling of its foundation.The height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is 55 meters from the ground while its weight is estimated at 14,453 tons. The Tower has 296 steps on one side, but only 294 on the other.

The history of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is interesting as well. It took centuries to construct. The construction began on August 9, 1173, and went on for two centuries. The third floor of the Tower was constructed in 1178 when it began to lean, and thereafter construction stopped. Four more floors were constructed in 1272 to compensite for the inclination. Construction then stopped again until 1372 when the last floor was built. In the same year, the bell was finally installed.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa holds a significant place in world history as well. Famous physician Galileo Galilei once dropped two cannon balls of different masses from the Tower to demonstrate their speed of descent was independent of their mass. After some years, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini commanded the Tower to be righted. So cement was poured into its foundation but the consequences were disappointing as it simply sank further into the soft soil. Reflecting more on the history of the Leaning Tower, it is interesting to note that during World War II, the American forces were ordered to demolish all the towers in the city of Pisa because of the threat of snipers in the city. All the towers were demolished except the Leaning Tower of Pisa because of a last-minute order to retreat.

In 1990, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was closed as there was a threat of collapse. It had been discovered that the Tower was subsiding at the rate of 0.03 inches a year. Engineers undertook a ten year strengthening project that decreased the lean by 17 inches to about 13.5 ft. The work was completed in May 2001 and reopened for public in June 16, 2001.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa may be leaning because of a blunder committed by 12th century engineers, but it is still one of the most famous structures known across the world and will always remain so.

Learn Five More Interesting Fun Facts About The Leaning Tower of Pisa!