The Italian Monumental Tower
The Leaning Tower of Pisa or Torre pendent di Pisa as the Italians say is a beautiful free-standing bell tower that leans on one side. Its characteristic lean on one side that has proven to be its claim to fame is actually a construction fault. The tower leans because the ground on one side of the tower is softer than the other. It is a building that truly shows us the way to look at the brighter side of things.
The tower is located in the Italian city of Pisa behind the Cathedral. Standing tall at over 180 feet, the tower now tilts at an angle of about 4 degrees, corrected from the previous 5.5 degrees after extensive restoration work.
The history of the tower is as interesting as the tower itself. The construction of the tower started in August of 1173 and continued for about 344 years. At every moment in history this tower proved to be on the better side of fate. Its construction started when the city of Pisa was prospering.
The design of the tower was flawed from the very beginning as the foundation of the building was not enough for the weak subsoil. This flaw did not become obvious till the second floor was built when the tower started leaning. But its construction was halted there for over a century as the city was almost continuously engaged in war with its neighbours. This turned out to be a blessing for the tower as the long wait gave time to the soil under the tower to settle down and prevent the tower from actually toppling over.
In more recent history, during the Second World War, the Germans had occupied the tower. A sergeant of the U.S. Army was sent to confirm the presence of German soldiers in the tower. But once he actually saw the tower, he was so impressed by its beauty that he refrained from ordering an artillery strike, thus saving the tower from destruction. The tower was also the site for Galileo’s famous experiment where he dropped two cannon balls of different masses.
In 1987, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site as a part of Piazza del Duomo. The name of the architect of the tower is a mystery till date.
Taking Inspiration from the Tower of Pisa, many buildings were made that have a greater tilt than the Tower of Pisa. The Capital Gate building in Abu Dhabi and Leaning Tower of Wanaka in New Zealand are two such buildings. But the Tower of Pisa is a marvel of medieval engineering.
The Leaning Tower is the main attraction of the city of Pisa and is responsible for the majority of its tourism. The tower houses the Assunta bell, the Pasquareccia bell and a plaque in memory of Galileo Galilei ‘s experiments.
The Tower of Pisa is a true testament to the engineering and architectural capabilities of the Italians.