10 Interesting Facts about the Leaning Tower in Pisa
Miracle Square in Pisa

10 Interesting facts you probably don’t know about the Leaning Tower

Everybody knows about the existance of this peculiar tower. As a matter of fact, the tilting made Pisa one of the most famous Italian cities around the globe. Despite its world wide celebrity, we would like to tell you 10 Interesting Facts about the Leaning Tower in Pisa that you probably don’t know.

Even if there is actually much more to see in Pisa, we must confess that the Leaning Tower is usually the reason why tourists wish to get to town. The 57 meter tall tower is located in the beautiful square of Piazza dei Miracoli, meaning the Square of Miracles. The Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio used these words in one of his works to describe this surprisingly beautiful location.

Millions of visitors reach Piazza dei Miracoli every year to admire the marble complex in the square. Also, they have fun while taking pictures in the attempt of supporting the tilting tower from falling down.

1- The Leaning Tower is meant as part of a bigger architectural complex

Not many people know that the Leaning Tower of Pisa is not meant as an independent structure. Indeed, it actualy represents the bell tower of the nearby marble Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Moreover, the towers belongs to a bigger architectural complex that includes the Cathedral and its Bell Tower, the Baptistry and the cemetery (Camposanto). The Tower was the last element to be built on site. Read more to learn 10 Interesting Facts about the Leaning Tower in Pisa.

miracle square in Pisa
a panoramic view from sky to Miracle square

2- The Leaning Tower in Pisa is a Word Heritage Site

The complex belongs to UNESCO since 1987, when it was declared a World Heritage Site. You find the building in the socalled Square of Miracle, formally known as Piazza del Duomo. The four buildings are a good example of medieval architecture and they influenced the Italian monumental art between the 11th and the 14th centuries.

 

3- It took almost 2 centuries to complete The Leaning Tower

To be precise, it took a total of 199 years to build it. Construction works started in 1173 but finished in 1372 only. In fact, the Republic of Pisa often joined important battles that forced the constructors to stop the works for several times. We can idenify three different phases to trace the creation of this structure. During the first phase lasting till 1272, the conflicts between Pisa and Genoa, Lucca and Florence interfered with the works. In the second phase, Genoa defeated the Republic of Pisa in the Battle of Meloria. The third phase runs from 1284 to 1319, when the last floor was finally added to the tower. However, the bell chamber, that officially completed the construction, was added many years later in 1372.

 

4- The Tower in Pisa was not leaning initially

Even if today the tilting is its peculiarity, the tower was meant to be straight. Indeed, the tilting towards the north started with the completion of the second floor because of the bad soil underneath it. According to some theories, the name Pisa actually comes from Greek and it means “marshy sands”. In fact, the terrain in this area is mainly made of clay. For this reason, it is probably not solid enough to substain such a tall construction. Moreover, the tower foundations were only 3 meters deep, so the tower’s destiny was maybe signed from the very beginning. Many studies consider the battles keeping the city of Pisa busy for many years a real fortune. In fact, according to many studies, those long breaks during the construction allowed the soil below to settle. Differently, the structure would have surely ceased earlier.

Pisa day tour. Leaning Tower
view of Leaning Tower and Cathedral

5- There are more leaning towers in Pisa

You will hardly believe it but The Tower is not the only leaning building in Pisa. The particularly unstable ground underneath the city made other towers in town leaning. Among them, the bell tower of the Church of San Nicola, built around the same period of the more famous Tower. Indeed, this octoganal bell tower originates from 1170 and it also features a slight slouch on one side. Also another bell tower belonging to the Church of St. Michele dei Scalzi is tilting. You find the complex on a boulevard called Viale delle Piagge, where Piagge was the Latin word to describe a “low plain prone to flooding.”

 

6-How many degrees is the Tower of Pisa leaning

As we mentioned above, the initial tilting happened with the completion of the second floor and was about 0,2 degrees. When the bell chamber was added in the early 1370’s the tilt reached 1,6 degrees. The crucial tilting point was in the 1990’s, when the lean was about 5,5 degrees. To imagine the leaning more easily, just imagiine that the 7th and last floor of the tower was overhanging the ground by 4,5 meters! In the following years many restoration works have been made in order to reduce the tilt and today it is “only” 3,97 degrees.

 

7- The Tower is not only leaning, it is curved

Aside from the leaning, the tower is actually curved at some point of its structure. That happened because of the scaried engeneers who tried to fix the first tilting. Indeed, they thought they could have solved everything by building one side of the upper floors taller than the other.

 

8- 296 steps to reach the top of the Leaning Tower

It is possible to reach the top of the Tower and enjoy a wonderful view of the city from there. There is a total of 296 steps to climb and no lift available, but we must admit that the view from the top is worth the effort. The official number of steps actually sounds like a mistery. Indeed, some people count 294 or even 300 steps. The only way to find it out is to clib it yourself.

 

9- The original reason behind the construction of the Pisa Leaning Tower

As we specified, the tower was actually the last element in the bigger architectural complex in Piazza dei Miracoli. The reason behind the construction of the tower and the whole complex is in the desire of the city of Pisa to show off. Indeed, in the 11th century the city succeded in sacking the sicilian Palermo and wished to build a place where to display all the new treasures in its possess. Thanks to the huge resources derived from the sacking, the gouvernor of Pisa ordered the construction of the Cathedral.

 

10- Seven huge bells on the top of the Leaning Tower in Pisa

Since the tower represents the bell tower of the nearby cathedral, seven huge bells were located on its top. The peculiarity about the heavy bells is that each of them has a proper name and correponds to the seven musical notes. However, the do not ring since the last century. Indeed, many engeneers worrry about the possible vibrations that could compromise the tilting and make the tower lean more.

 

We hope you gave you some extra information about this fabulous moument if you already had the chance to visit it. In case you have not been there yet, we are sure that you are curious to see it after reading our 10 Interesting Facts about the Leaning Tower in Pisa. On our website, you can find the tours including the visit to this incredible location.

 

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