Nestled in Pisa, the Leaning Tower stands tall with a captivating tilt, a testament to architectural miscalculation. Its quirky angle, unintended yet iconic, draws history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike from world over. This freestanding bell tower, part of Pisa's Cathedral Complex, offers a unique climb leading to breathtaking views of the city and beyond. Its construction, spanning nearly two centuries, showcases medieval engineering and the struggle against the subsiding ground, making it a must-see for history buffs and curious minds alike.
The tilt was intentional: Contrary to popular belief, the tilt of the Leaning Tower of Pisa was not an accident. In fact, it was actually intended from the very beginning due to the soft, unstable ground upon which it was built. But the architects believed that they could control the amount of tilt by building it with increasing levels of curvature as it ascended.
The tower was almost abandoned: Construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa began in 1173, but it was halted in 1178 due to funding issues. The tower remained incomplete for almost a century until work resumed in 1272.
Galileo's gravity experiment: Uncover the legend of Galileo Galilei's famous experiment from the Leaning Tower. While unproven, the story goes that he supposedly dropped objects to test the acceleration due to gravity.
The Tower of Pisa was first designed to be a bell tower. But as the architects of the 12th century didn’t have enough knowledge of the soil composition, they didn’t account for the clay soil of Pisa. After building just three out of eight stories, the tower began to tilt, giving it its popular name, the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
When the bell tower in Piazza del Duomo was first designed, the clay soil in Pisa wasn't taken into consideration and the foundation could only be built 3 meters deep. During construction, the soil started to shift underneath the tower, sinking the tower into the soil. Because of poor knowledge about soil mechanics, the construction of the tower was halted many times and it took almost 2 centuries to complete the construction.
Elevation of Piazza del Duomo: approx. 2 meters
Height of the Tower from the Ground Floor: 8 stories, 55.863 m
Outer Diameter of the Base: 15.484 m
Angle of Tilt: 3.97 degrees from the vertical
Tower Displacement: 3.9 m from the vertical
Weight: 14,700 metric tons
Number of Bells: 7 bells tuned to musical scale
The height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa was originally meant to be 60 meters. The name of the original architect of this tower is a mystery to this day, but its first construction can be attributed to Bonanno Pisano.
The tower has eight stories in total. The bottom story has 15 columns and the next six stories have 30 columns each. The top story is a bell-chamber that has 16 more columns. Two sets of spiral staircases run inside the tower to take you to the top.
The Tower of Pisa was initially designed to showcase Pisa’s power and influence. The tower is made from solid white marble and in Romanesque style from the medieval era. This style of architecture was present between the 10th and 12th centuries and adopted some features of Roman and Byzantine architecture. This architectural style features thick walls, rounded arches and large towers, much of what the Leaning Tower represents.
There are five different sets of stairs inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa. While some of these are to only access specific parts of the tower, two flights of spiral stairs take you to the top of the tower.
The tower is mostly hollow and has two sets of spiral staircases that go to the top. Because of the centuries of time that has passed since the tower was built, the steps have become slightly eroded.
As the tower is tilted about 4 degrees, you will be able to feel the tilt as soon as you enter the tower. As you start climbing, some visitors might also feel a little dizzy.
The leaning tower appears to be a hollow cylindrical tube as you look up. Some light comes through the glass ceiling, which gives you a view to the top of the tower.
There is no artificial lighting inside the tower. The light that comes into the tower is from the windows and openings from the upper stories of the building.
As the tower of Pisa was designed to be a bell tower, there are 7 bells placed on the top of the tower, each tuned to the musical scale.
There is also a pentagon shaped glass covering on the top of the tower that allows you to look into the tower from the top.
At the top of the Leaning Tower, you will not only be able to see the Cathedral square but also experience the panoramic views of the beautiful city of Pisa.
Two naturally constructed churches located in Germany challenge the tilt of the Leaning Tower of Pisa; the 14th Century bell tower in Bad Frankenhausen and the 15th Century Leaning Tower of Suurhusen. In June 2010, the Guinness World Record for the most lopsided building was taken by the Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi as the "World's Furthest Leaning Man-made Tower" with an 18 degree slope. The Leaning Tower of Wanaka is also a deliberately lopsided building like the Capital Gate and leans at a 53 degree lean to the ground.