The Tower of Pisa. Description, pictures, interesting facts

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Tower of Pisa (Torre pendente di Pisa) is a unique architectural creation, which made the city in which it is located famous all over the world. The Bell Tower, which is part of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Cathedral of Pisa), is known not only for its slope, whose angle increases every year.

The many legends related to the origin of the tower, its interesting appearance, the mysterious atmosphere that reigns in the Piazza dei Miracoli, makes this main attraction of the city of Pisa so attractive to all tourists and lovers of Italy.

History of the Tower of Pisa

The Tower of Pisa was designed by the architects Bonnano Pisano and Wilhelm von Innsbruck, who never got to see it finished.

The fact is that the construction of the tower took about 200 years. Such a long period of construction was due to two significant periods when the work was delayed.

The construction of the tower began in 1173, but already during the construction of the third floor in 1178 the tower began to lean. This was caused by incorrectly laid foundations in combination with soft soil. After that the construction of the tower was delayed for 100 years and completed only by 1360.

As experts say, the fact that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was originally conceived in the project as tilting sideways is unlikely and unconfirmed. Most likely the reason for the tilt lies in the construction of too small a foundation and in the peculiarities of the soil.

On the Wonderland Square always gathers enough tourists. Especially many want to admire the unique Leaning Tower of Pisa, take interesting photos next to the falling bell tower and imagine the process of its long construction, surrounded by many legends.

The architecture of the Tower of Pisa

The Tower of Pisa stands 55.86 m high on the low side and 56.7 m high on the high side. Its width is 15.54 m. It is noteworthy that the thickness of the walls of the tower is also not uniform along its entire length – at the base of the tower the walls are almost twice as thick as in its upper part.

Facade

The facade of the bell tower is made of white marble and stone, while the main entrance is made of brick. Directly above the main entrance is a sculpture of the Madonna and Child.

Each floor except the ground floor is a gallery, the outside of which is surrounded by columns with capitals in the Classical style.

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At the base of the columns there are closed arches decorated with various decorative elements. Thanks to this architectural design, the Leaning Tower of Pisa looks very airy and light, which further increases the visual effect of its fall.

Square of Wonders

Photo: Rosty McFly / Shutterstock.com

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is cylindrical, Romanesque-Pisa style, and includes 8 tiers. The tower has a spiral staircase with 294 steps.

Inside the tower

Inside the building there is a wide hall without a ceiling on the walls of which the inhabitants of the seas are depicted in bas-relief.

An exquisitely decorated bell tower at the top holds several bells, the oldest of which is about 400 years old. Remarkably, the tower’s bell tower, built in the 14th century, is set more evenly than the rest of the tower.

Legends

There are many legends associated with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, many of them related to the inventions of Galileo Galilei.

The first legend

One legend has it that the architect Pisano, whose project was used to build the tower, originally erected a flat, exquisitely decorated bell tower for a Catholic cathedral. However, the clergy refused to pay for his work.

Offended, the famous architect commanded the tower, “Follow me!” The master’s creation was not long in coming and obeyed his will, leaning over in the first step, and then frozen in a falling position.

The second legend

According to another legend, which, according to many scientists, is indeed true, the great Galileo Galilei made his discoveries about gravity on this very tower. The fact is that he was in front of his colleagues at the University of Pisa dropping kernels of different masses from the Tower of Pisa.

A third legend

Also, as Galileo Galilei’s bibliographer Vincenzo Viviani tells us, the architectural features of the Tower of Pisa helped the scientist discover the law of the constancy of the swinging pendulum.

It was as a result of observing the swinging lamp in the Leaning Tower of Pisa that Galileo Galilei was able to draw appropriate experimental conclusions.

Saving the Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has stood in the Square of Miracles for more than 750 years and has been leaning more and more to the south every year. More than once experts have taken measures to save the architectural masterpiece and example of cultural heritage from final fall.

Thus, from 1994 to 2001, special counterweights made of lead were used by a special commission to save the Leaning Tower of Pisa in order to prevent the tower from falling.

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The Italian government annually allocates large sums of money for the “maintenance” of the falling tower and its restoration.

However, in spite of all the technical work and engineering, the Tower of Pisa continues its slow decline. At present the deviation of the tower from its axis is about 5 degrees. Its position is unstable – now it returns to a vertical position, then leans again. The reason for the tower’s fall is still clay soil and groundwater.

For those who have not yet had time to see with their own eyes the unique “walking” bell tower, we report the good news: according to scientists at the symposium in France in 2004, the Leaning Tower of Pisa will not fall about 300 years. We recommend you to hurry, though: just in case ;)

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Photo: Mikhail Yuryev / Shutterstock.com

Can climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa

If you want to climb the unique Leaning Tower along the marvelous spiral staircase and admire the beautiful view of the cozy town, we inform you that it is possible. You only need to buy a ticket at the entrance to the tower. Queues are usually small, but admission is strictly by session.

How to get to the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located on the Wonderland Square, almost in the center of the city (from the railway station it takes about 35 minutes).

Working hours

The opening and closing hours of the Leaning Tower of Pisa depend on the season: like the other attractions in the square, it is open from 10.00 to 17.00 in winter and from 9.00 to 20.00 in summer.

Detailed schedule for the desired date, see the official website of the Cathedral Square www.opapisa.it/.

Ticket prices

The ticket to the Tower of Pisa costs 20 euros as of 2022.

As for the other sites in the square, the following prices are set for visiting them:

  • San Giovanni Baptistery, Campo Santo or Museo dell’Opera del Duomo separately – 7 Euros;
  • combined ticket to visit the Baptistery, Campo Santo and the Museum – 10 euros;
  • combined ticket to Baptistery, Campo Santo, Museum, Leaning Tower of Pisa – 27 Euro.

Entrance to the Cathedral of Pisa is free.

Ticket prices may vary: check the official website for more information.

Excursions in Pisa

If you want something more interesting than the traditional walking around the city on the map, try a new format of sightseeing. In modern times more and more popular are unusual excursions from the locals! After all, who knows the history and the most interesting places of Pisa better than a local?

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You can see all the tours and choose the most intriguing on the Tripster website.

The Tower of Pisa. When it falls and if it falls at all.

The Tower of Pisa is perhaps one of the most famous and recognizable landmarks of the world and one of the symbols of Italy. By the way, not inferior in popularity to the Roman Colosseum itself.

Few people know that the tower is part of the whole architectural complex of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, located within the city of Pisa. In addition to the tower in the complex there is the Cathedral, the Square of Miracles, the cemetery and the baptistery (a special room for the rite of baptism). But now we will focus only on the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In this ensemble it was given the role of the bell tower, which it successfully performs to this day.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The tower is located on the north-west side of the “Italian boot” in Pisa, 9.5 km from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

It is famous worldwide because it is tilted relative to its vertical axis. Therefore it is called the Leaning Tower. And the tower has been falling for more than 800 years.

The Tower of Pisa in Italy

Basic information

To begin with a few statistics. The maximum height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is 56 meters and 67 centimeters. The building is a circular hollow structure with a spiral staircase around the perimeter, built between the outer and inner wall.

Inside the Tower of Pisa

The interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the upper levels

The diameter of the building at the base is 15.5 meters. The total weight of the tower is estimated at 14453 tons. Scientists estimate that 29424 stone blocks were needed to build it. The thickness of the wall decreases as the height increases, starting at 4.9 meters at the base and ending at 2.48 meters at the top.

Inside the Tower of Pisa

The inside of the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the first level

You remember that inside the wall there is a staircase that leads to the top of the tower. So, the width of the stairs also decreases towards the top, reaching only 40 cm. at the end of the ascent. And in order not to create a traffic jam of tourists going up and down, there is a special traffic light man. It is his responsibility to regulate the flow of people, so the upper part is organized reversible traffic (ie, one-way, periodically changing, the movement up and down). Observe the rules of inner-tower traffic. In total, you have to overcome 294 steps to get to the top of the tower.

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Leaning stairs of the Tower of Pisa

Over the years, tourists have stomped out considerable hollows in the thresholds of the stairs.

Until the end of the 20th century, the angle of the tower was 5.5 degrees, but after the restoration work from 1990 to 2001, the inclination became 3.97 degrees. This means that the top of the tower is displaced horizontally 3.9 meters relative to the center.

The construction of the Tower of Pisa and the causes of the fall

The Tower of Pisa is one of the most famous long construction projects of the first half of the second millennium. It took almost 200 years to build. The construction went on for 199 years and occurred in 3 stages.

The first began in August 1173.

It is worth noting here that the formal laying of the foundation stone was laid in early January 1172. At that time, a famous widow bequeathed sixty soledos for the construction of the bell tower. The money was spent on the purchase of several stone blocks, which were laid at the base of the tower. If we consider this year as the year of the beginning of construction, the construction lasted exactly 200 years.

Already in 1178, during the construction of the second floor, the building gave a tilt. This is due to the fact that there was initially made a mistake in the project. Namely, just a 3-meter foundation on a weak and unstable soil. As a result, the foundation on one side of the tower was softer and gradually sagged.

Leaning tower of Pisa

Since 1178 the construction was frozen for almost a hundred years. At that time, the Republic of Pisa was at war with Florence, Lucca and Genoa, and there was neither time nor money left for the bell tower.

Despite the fact that the building had a slope, construction resumed in 1272. Giovanni di Simone was in charge of the project. Instead of fundamentally correcting miscalculations at the beginning of the erection, engineers and builders began to make subsequent levels with different ceiling heights. That is, on the side where the tower sloped, the ceiling was higher. As a result of such architectural approach the tower became slightly curved and remotely resembled a banana. However, this did not work, the building continued its “fall”.

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In 1284 Genoa defeated Pisa. And again the construction stopped for several decades. It is known that the 7th floor was built in 1319, and directly the upper part with the bell tower was completed in 1372, under the direction of Tommaso de Andrea Pisano.

The bell tower provides room for 7 bells, according to the number of notes. The largest bell was installed in 1655.

The top level of the Leaning Tower of Pisa houses the Bell Tower of Pisa

The bell tower of the Tower of Pisa

Ideas and works to preserve the Tower of Pisa

Since the Tower of Pisa is a significant tourist and architectural object (quite elderly), it constantly requires maintenance and restoration. In particular, the columns damaged by time and erosion are periodically replaced. Mandatory soil stabilization works are carried out, which include underground and above-ground measures.

Underground work involved the gentle and surgically careful removal of soil from beneath the foundation to stabilize the tower.

Since the Leaning Tower of Pisa “falls” to the south, the above-ground work included the installation of massive lead blocks on its northern side to counterbalance it.

A big help in supporting the falling tower is the vast majority of tourists. They try their best to hold on to the Leaning Tower of Pisa for a spectacular picture. If you thought this was a joke, you’re right, but only partly. Not a single tourist has been able to hold on to the tower with their mind, but they do support it financially every year. The more tourists are trying to support the tower morally, the more it is supported financially, because the visit is paid. The cost is 18 euros per person.

This is not a flash mob. It is tourists supporting the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Each in his own way Tourist tries to steal the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Take care of buying tickets in advance. The number of people who want to get into the Leaning Tower of Pisa is quite large, and no more than 40 people are allowed inside at a time.

To get the perfect photos, choose angles from the east and west side of the tower. As a reminder, the tower is tilted to the south.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is straight from the south and north

From this angle the Leaning Tower of Pisa is straight

It is not known when the Leaning Tower of Pisa will fall. Considering that it has been falling for more than a century, and according to scientists it will last at least another 200 years, you still have time to see it.

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