Falling Leaning Tower of Pisa: excursion, photo and history

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The inhabitants of the Italian city of Pisa have a unique opportunity. They can orientate in the sides of the world without a compass. You just need to look at the famous Leaning tower of Pisa, and it will immediately become clear where the south is, because they are tilted in this direction.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is Italy's most recognizable landmark. According to the frequency of mention in the media and the number of requests on the Internet, it even outstrips even the Coliseum and St. Peter's Cathedral in the Vatican. It has gained popularity due to its inclination, and, unfortunately, many tourists do not even know what its real purpose is. In this review, we will talk about the tower itself, and about the excursion to it.

The name "Leaning Tower of Pisa" is not quite right, because in fact it is a bell tower. Inside and now there are 7 bells of different tonalities, which sometimes ring.

The belltower is part of the complex of buildings of the Pisa Cathedral (pictured right). In addition to it, this architectural ensemble includes the Duomo Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral itself and a cemetery where you can see a magnificent fresco depicting the Last Judgment.

However, we have a separate article about the Pisa Cathedral, and this review is devoted to the tower and only to it.


Let's start with history. The Leaning Tower was built in 1173, its construction took place in three stages with long breaks for 199 years. At the first stage, only two floors were built and the tower immediately began to bend over. But no one seriously thought about this problem, because the city of Pisa had bad times. Conflicts began with the neighboring city-republics of Florence, Genoa and Lucca.

The tower returned only in 1272, when the economic and political situation made it possible to think about spiritual problems. It turned out that the fall of the structure had already stopped, since the soil from the north side had already "sunk". New builders decided to get out of the situation in a simple way, they began to build new floors of slightly different heights to compensate for the slope.

At this stage, from 1272 to 1284, several more floors were completed. If you look closely at the photo, you will see that the Leaning Tower not only is inclined, but also slightly bent. In 1284 the construction was stopped again, as the army of the city suffered defeat from Genoa in the Battle of Meloria.

And the last stage of construction began in 35 years. After almost two centuries, the bell was installed on the tower, and the construction was completed. Pay attention to the top superstructure (in the picture on the left), its slope relative to the ground differs from the whole structure, because it was already erected at the last stage and tried to make it even. This clearly indicates that in those days the slope was small, only 1-2 degrees.

Over the years, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has increasingly tipped, and by 1990 the angle had reached a dangerous level of 5.5%. The tower was decided to be leveled. Details about this unique operation will be discussed in the last part of the article.

Excursion to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Every guest of the city of Pisa can climb this bell tower. The price of the tour is 18 euros, and there are no children's tickets here. Children under 8 years of age are strictly forbidden to go up here, adolescents under the age of 18 can visit the excursion only accompanied by adults.

Such measures are not accidental, because on all floors of the building there are simply no obstacles (pay attention to the picture on the right), nothing protects visitors from accidental falls. The floor, like the whole structure, is made of marble and it is slippery enough. Guides say that cases of falling tourists in the Leaning Tower of Pisa were.

The ticket for the excursion is sold strictly for a certain period of time, the sightseeing itself takes 30 minutes. If you do not have time at the right time, then you will not be allowed inside, be careful. Moreover, if you come here on your own, the tickets in general may not be available, as the size of the group is limited.

However, we did not hear from any of the travelers that there were no tickets at all. Sometimes, there were no tickets for the next session, and tourists had to wait a little.

Tickets can be bought online, but it's not so easy. The official site http://www.opapisa.it/ does not have a Russian version, but there is a part of the site in English. Even if you know English, you can not buy tickets there. Tickets are sold only on the Italian part of the site. To buy a ticket, on this page - http://boxoffice.opapisa.it/Turisti/ click on the word PURCHASE, which is directly under the British flag. Next, you will need to select a ticket and pay it with a credit card.

The administration warns:

- It is strictly forbidden to bring any bags or other items on the tour. An exception is made only for photos and video cameras. All things can be put in a special wardrobe.

- It is strictly forbidden to walk on the aisles. Although many tourists go.

- It is forbidden to pass under the bells, it is forbidden to beat the bells.

- On the 7th and 8th floors there are still handrails, but you can not stick out for them either.

- People with a fear of heights visit the Tower of Pisa is not recommended.

Also, keep in mind that the tower has a height of more than 50 meters and 296 steps lead upwards. Pass them all have to walk, count your strength.

After entering, you will need to climb the stairs (pictured left), and you will be on the top floor on the viewing platform. You can see the city of Pisa from a height, there you look at the bells, we remind you that it is forbidden to beat them.

Pay attention to one of the bells, he is interesting because by age he is older than the bell tower itself. It is called La Pasquereccia or La Giustizia. They beat him for Easter, and before the installation on the Leaning Tower of Pisa, he served in another bell tower and was beaten to report the execution of criminals.

There are seven bells here, and they form a scale of notes. Theoretically, they could play music, but they do not.

At this tour ends. It's hard to say how much you will get unforgettable impressions from climbing to the very top. In fact, nothing very unusual in the excursion to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, just "tick", which was the most popular attractions in Italy.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa gradually tilted until 2008. In 1964, the government of Italy proposed to completely straighten the structure, but the city authorities categorically refused, since it is the falling tower that attracts tourists.

In 2008, when the angle of inclination reached 5.5 degrees, it was decided to slightly straighten it.

Why the Leaning Tower of Pisa is tilted. And how to correct the slope.

The bell tower project for the Cathedral of Pisa was unsuccessful. The depth of the basement was only three meters, which was clearly not enough for a building with a height of more than 50 meters. The fact that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was noticed almost immediately, but did not pay any serious attention, since the war began.

When in almost 100 years the city authorities returned to construction, the leaning of the Tower of Pisa has already stopped.

This effect is associated with the soil under construction. The ground here is not homogeneous, the earth is denser under the southern side, and the soil under the northern side is slightly muddy. For 100 years, the soil on the south side is slightly compacted, and the fall has stopped. Construction continued, and no one wondered why the Leaning Tower of Pisa is falling.

At the end of the construction the structure was not so strongly inclined.

The slope of the Tower of Pisa grew, but very slowly, and in the 20th century it was already dangerous, it was 5.5 degrees. It was necessary to do something urgently, and in 1990, a complex engineering operation began to smooth out the construction.

This was the second such operation. The first was conducted in the 19th century, when groundwater was removed from the basement, but this did not help.

Immediately it is worth saying that no one has set out to make the belltower completely straight, since it is not interesting to the authorities of the city of Pisa. They need a falling tower, because it attracts tourists.

At first it was required to find out why the Leaning Tower of Pisa was tilted. The reasons were clear, but it was worth making sure for sure. For this, a computer model was built.

The first thing engineers did was to establish a counterweight. From the north side blocks of lead and steel with a total mass of 900 tons were installed. This stopped the leaning of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Further, it was required to remove a certain amount of soil from the north side of the structure. A total of 108 cubic meters of land were removed.

Of course, no excavators were used. The soil was removed slowly and neatly with the help of special pipes.

In 2001, engineers announced that the Leaning Tower of Pisa had stabilized its inclination, and it would not fall for the next 300 years. Responsible for the project were: Professor of the Polytechnic University of Turin Michel Jamiolkovsky and Professor of the University of Naples Carlo Vigiani.

From this moment, tourists were allowed to enter here, but the restoration did not end.

Repair of cracks and restoration of appearance of a sight began. It lasted 10 years and ended only in 2011.

In the photo to the right, you see special scaffolding, which are installed to protect restorers from falling from the tower. Photo taken in 2009.

We finish this article with the exact characteristics of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, given in the table:

Weight of the structure: 14,453 tons
Tilt angle: 3.97 degrees
Number of steps: 396
Height on the north (high) side: 56.70 meters
Height on south (low) side: 55.86 meters
Total Floors: 8
Diameter of base: 19.58 meters
Wall thickness at the base: 2.44 meters

Successful visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and read about other sights of Italy in our articles ( links below ).

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