Why The Leaning Tower Of Pisa Is Leaning
The Leaning Tower of Pisa or ‘Torre pendente di Pisa’ as known in Italian is a marvelous structure that has made it to the bucket list of a bulk of travelers.
And why not? This building has survived a lot by the skin of the teeth.
The Italian sculptor Bonanno Pisano was the man who designed the Leaning Tower of Pisa in 1173. It was constructed to be the Bell Tower to the Cathedral of Pisa.
The architecture was amazingly crafted with a mix of the Byzantine and classical elements.
It was constructed with white marble to stand tall at a height of 185 feet (56 meters).
But what they forgot to consider was that the land on which it was built was not dense enough to support the weight of this astounding building. The foundation was laid on a ground made of soft clay, sand, and seashells.
The Tower stood erect for a good 5 years. Only after completion of the 3rd floor, it started tilting on one side.
The Italian Government was in a panic, assuming that the building would collapse. However, the attention shifted from the building to resolving the war between Italian city-states.
Construction halted for 100 years. Though lives were lost in the brutal battle, this war came as a blessing to the tower. It helped to stabilize the tower by helping the soil to settle.
In 1272, after the war ended, engineer Giovanni di Simone initiated the reconstruction.
Four more floors were to be added. He tried to make up for the tilt by making one side of the upper floors more taller than the other side. However, the added weight of the masonry made the tower tilt even more.
The second time the construction was halted during the Battle of Meloria (1284).
Later, the construction started again. Two spiral staircases were built on the inside, leading up to the bell chambers. Seven bells were installed, with the largest one weighing more than 3,600 kgs.
During World War II, after Americans invaded Italy, orders were released to sabotage all major buildings in fear of snipers using the buildings as a spot to hide and attack. There was no exception to this rule. A lot of towers were exploded.
However, before they could touch the tower of Pisa, there a was retreat that leads to cancellation of the orders for demolishing the National monument.
In 1987, it was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1990, the tower was closed and a massive excavation was under process.
Many engineers came together to work on the stabilization of the tower.
The bells were removed as their movement could potentially add to the lean. Cement grouts and other materials were injected into the foundation. Leaden counterweights were added and the tower was anchored.
By 2001, the tower was reopened for tourists.
The Tower is now stronger than ever, and it would remain so for another 200 years as per the engineer’s predictions.
As far as the Lean goes, it only adds to the charm of the Heritage Site.