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Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre di Pisa), Pisa

Overview

Leaning Tower of Pisa
Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa
Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the bell tower (campanile in Italian) of the religious complex from Piazza del Duomo, besides the cathedral - Duomo di Pisa, the baptistry - Battistero di San Giovanni, and the cemetery - Camposanto Monumentale (translated in English "The monumental cemetery"). Unlike many churches in medieval Italy from Florence, Venice, and Siena, which had square bell towers, the bell tower from Pisa is circular, with the base diameter of 16 meters (ft. 50.9) on the outside and 7.38 meters (ft. 24.2) on the inside. It was designed and started by the Italian architect Bonanno Pisano in the summer of 1173, but its construction was interrupted several times due to the inclination due to the Mediterranean soil impregnated with sand and clay. After the first 3 floors were built, the tower started to lean towards southeast. For stability and balance, the next 4 floors were built in a reverse oblique direction, with a shorter wall on a side and higher wall on the other side, thus the leaning tower being also "bent", not only leaning. The works, led by the architect Giovani di Simone, were completed in 1372. The tower has a height of 55.86 meters (183.3 ft.) for the shortest side, and 56.70 meters in the highest part, with a high ground floor and 7 floors. It is built of white marble and weighs 14,700 tons, with some estimates putting it even closer to 16,000 tons. After climbing the 294 steps, you reach the last floor, "the bell - cell", which houses the 7 bells. It was designed by the architect Tommaso di Andrea Pisano and has a smaller diameter than the lower floors, with full masonry, and fewer arches. For the Leaning Tower's stability and safety, in the present days the bells do not ring. The seven bells each have a name: L'Assunta, cast in 1654 by Giovanni Pietro Orlandi; Il Crocifisso, cast in 1572 by Vincenzo Possenti; San Ranieri, cast in 1719-1721 by Giovanni Andrea Moreni; La Terza, cast in 1473; La Pasquereccia, which name comes from Easter as it used to ring on Easter Day, and which was cast in 1262 by Lotteringo; and Il Vespruccio, cast in the 14th century by Nicola di Jacopo, and Dal Pozzo.
Leaning Tower of Pisa at sunset
Leaning Tower of Pisa at sunset

Leaning Tower of Pisa and Duomo di Pisa
Leaning Tower of Pisa and Duomo di Pisa

The last consolidation started in 1990, when the inclination reached 5.5 degrees, and ended in 2001. The inclination was brought to 3.97 degrees, which was calculated as the inclination angle the tower had in 1838. During the consolidation, to compensate the leaning, the base of the 4th floor columns was surrounded by thick cables which were tied with very heavy metal plates. Thus, the inclination was stopped, keeping a constant inclination of 3.97 degrees with respect to the vertical plane. After the works were completed, in 2001, the inclination was reduced by 44 centimeters. The safety of the consolidations has been guaranteed for a period of 300 years. For tourists, on the alley that borders the 3 monuments, near the dome, a special place was created to photograph the tower building - an extension of white asphalt, entering the green grass, as a step. Standing upright and holding out a hand towards the inclined tower, a tourist can sit comfortably supporting the tower with his palm, upholding the inclination and beauty of the columns and arches. It is said that Galileo demonstrated that falling bodies of different weights descend at the same rate and their speed is independent of their masses by dropping two cannonballs of different masses from the leaning tower of Pisa. Replica "leaning towers" have been built as attractions in many touristic places around the world.