The Leaning Tower of Pisa

pisa towerOnly few people would not recognize the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is a freestanding bell tower located behind the cathedral in Pisa, a city in Italy. Its unique feature is also not unheard of- the Tower has been leaning a bit on its southeast side for decades now. In fact, if it were not for this critical building flaw, no one would have ever bothered looking up this strange bell tower in some quaint Italian city. But then, its flaw became its most notable feature and hence became known all over the world.

History

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was initially built in August 9, 1173 when its foundations were first laid. Work on the tower was done in three stages and took a period of over 177 years to complete. The tower’s foundations started to sink on one side after the construction of its third floor sometime in 1178.

The reason why the tower leaning was blamed on the tower’s rather deficient three-meter foundation. Another contributor was that the tower was built on weak and unstable subsoil that eventually loosened up, causing the tower to shift direction. From the beginning, the design of the tower, coupled with its unstable foundation, was already gravely flawed.

A reason why the Leaning Tower seem to defy gravity by not toppling over after all  these years was the considerably long period of its construction. After building the first and third floors, construction was subsequently halted due to wars with neighboring regions. The halt lasted for almost a century, which also allowed time for the loose subsoil to settle below the tower.

Construction on the tower was resumed sometime in 1272 under Giovanni de Simone. Noticing the tilt of the tower, de Simone and the engineers decided to build the higher floors of the tower with one side than the other. This allowed weight from one side to compensate for the tilt. This construction even allowed the tower to tilt to the opposite direction. Due to this design, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually curved. Construction again was stopped in 1284.

Completion and Restoration

The tower was completed in 1372 when its bell chamber was completed. The tower was built on a Romanesque style with its bell chamber having Gothic elements. The chamber contains seven bells that stand for each note in the musical scale. The bells was installed on the Tower sometime in 1655. Restoration work on the Tower from 1990 to 2001 has allowed it to stand and remain as Pisa’s most famous landmark.

 
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