The Leaning Tower of Pisa

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Tuscany Information
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Area: 22,990 km²
Population: 3.6 million
Density: 157/km²
Capital: Florence

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The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa - Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a quintissential Italian image that is recognised all over the world. It is a 'campanile' or bell tower standing independently alongside the cathedral in the Tuscan city of Pisa, which is immediately recognisable by its distictive shape and the angle of lean relative to the Cathedral alongside.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Baptistry - Photo: www.understandingitaly.com

It was constructed of white marble in the 'Piazza Dei Miracoli' (Square of Miracles) also known as 'Piazza Del Duomo (Cathedral Square), a wide, walled area in the centre of Pisa. It was the last of three buildings to be contructed in the square after the Cathedral itself and the Baptistry which stands alongside. It is an important example of medieval art and is widely considered to be one of the finest architectural complexes in the world. The square also houses the 'Camposanto Monumentale' (Monumental Cemetary) and the 'Ospedale Nuovo di Santo Spirito' (New Hospital of the Holy Spirit) and is an important religious area for the Roman Catholic Church as well as being one of the most visited tourist attractions in Italy.

Work started on the construction in 1173, but it took nearly 200 years to complete. The tower began to lean during the early stages of its construction due to inadequate foundations on one side. Once the problem had been recognised, work was halted for some time as Pisa became engaged in successive battles with her neighbours. When work resumed, the subsidence had halted itself and successive builders tried to compensate for the tilt by building one side up higher than the other. This has resulted in the tower being somewhat curved.

Although the engineer Bonanno Pisano definitely worked on the project, it is uncetain whether he was the original architect. It could also have been contemporary architects: Diotisalvi or Guglielmo of Innsbruck.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower - Photo: www.understandingitaly.com

The tower is 55.86 metres high (183.27 feet) on the lower side and 56.67 metres (185.93 feet) on the higher side. There are 294 steps on one staircase and 296 on the other. The top of the tower remains 3.9 metres (12 ft 10 in) away from the vertical.

In the late 16th century, the tower is said to have been used by Gallileo Gallilei to test his theory on gravity by dropping two cannonballs of different weights from the top of the tower. The story may not be true but it is still often quoted in classrooms.

By the late 20th century the tower was leaning by more than 5 degrees. In 1964 the Italian government requested international help in preventing the likely eventual collapse of the tower. A team of engineers, mathematicians and historians were assembled to develop a plan to protect the tower, at the same time as retaining the degree of tilt that made it such an important tourist attraction for the city of Pisa.

In 1987 the tower was declared part of the 'Piazza del Duomo UNESCO World Heritage Site' along with the neighbouring cathedral, baptistery and cemetery.

After 20 years of studies, the tower was closed to the public in 1990 and work began. The substantial repairs took a further 10 years to complete but finally the lean was stabilised and reduced to less than 4 degrees. The tower was reopened to the public in 2001. Engineers claim to have secured the tower's future for at least 300 years.

Although there are many other contenders for the title of 'World's most leaning building', none of them could ever quite compete with the uniquely iconic qualities of the 'Leaning Tower of Pisa'.

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Tuscany Information
Location of Tuscany
Area: 22,990 km²
Population: 3.6 million
Density: 157/km²
Capital: Florence

Find a hotel in Tuscany
Provinces
Comunes
  • Arezzo
    • Anghiari
      Arezzo
      Badia Tedalda
      Bibbiena
      Bucine
      Capolona
      Caprese Michelangelo
      Castel Focognano
      Castel San Niccolò
      Castelfranco di Sopra
      Castiglion Fibocchi
      Castiglion Fiorentino
      Cavriglia
      Chitignano
      Chiusi della Verna
      Civitella in Val di Chiana
      Cortona
      Foiano della Chiana
      Laterina
      Loro Ciuffenna
      Lucignano
      Marciano della Chiana
      Monte San Savino
      Montemignaio
      Monterchi
      Montevarchi
      Ortignano Raggiolo
      Pergine Valdarno
      Pian di Sco
      Pieve Santo Stefano
      Poppi
      Pratovecchio
      San Giovanni Valdarno
      Sansepolcro
      Sestino
      Stia
      Subbiano
      Talla
      Terranuova Bracciolini

  • Firenze
    • Bagno a Ripoli
      Barberino di Mugello
      Barberino Val d'Elsa
      Borgo San Lorenzo
      Calenzano
      Campi Bisenzio
      Capraia e Limite
      Castelfiorentino
      Cerreto Guidi
      Certaldo
      Dicomano
      Empoli
      Fiesole
      Figline Valdarno
      Firenze
      Firenzuola
      Fucecchio
      Gambassi Terme
      Greve in Chianti
      Impruneta
      Incisa in Val d'Arno
      Lastra a Signa
      Londa
      Marradi
      Montaione
      Montelupo Fiorentino
      Montespertoli
      Palazzuolo sul Senio
      Pelago
      Pontassieve
      Reggello
      Rignano sull'Arno
      Rufina
      San Casciano in Val di Pesa
      San Godenzo
      San Piero a Sieve
      Scandicci
      Scarperia
      Sesto Fiorentino
      Signa
      Tavarnelle Val di Pesa
      Vaglia
      Vicchio
      Vinci

  • Grosseto
    • Arcidosso
      Campagnatico
      Capalbio
      Castel del Piano
      Castell'Azzara
      Castiglione della Pescaia
      Cinigiano
      Civitella Paganico
      Follonica
      Gavorrano
      Grosseto
      Isola del Giglio
      Magliano in Toscana
      Manciano
      Massa Marittima
      Monte Argentario
      Monterotondo Marittimo
      Montieri
      Orbetello
      Pitigliano
      Roccalbegna
      Roccastrada
      Santa Fiora
      Scansano
      Scarlino
      Seggiano
      Semproniano
      Sorano

  • Livorno
    • Bibbona
      Campiglia Marittima
      Campo nell'Elba
      Capoliveri
      Capraia Isola
      Castagneto Carducci
      Cecina
      Collesalvetti
      Livorno
      Marciana
      Marciana Marina
      Piombino
      Porto Azzurro
      Portoferraio
      Rio Marina
      Rio nell'Elba
      Rosignano Marittimo
      San Vincenzo
      Sassetta
      Suvereto

  • Lucca
    • Altopascio
      Bagni di Lucca
      Barga
      Borgo a Mozzano
      Camaiore
      Camporgiano
      Capannori
      Careggine
      Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
      Castiglione di Garfagnana
      Coreglia Antelminelli
      Fabbriche di Vallico
      Forte dei Marmi
      Fosciandora
      Gallicano
      Giuncugnano
      Lucca
      Massarosa
      Minucciano
      Molazzana
      Montecarlo
      Pescaglia
      Piazza al Serchio
      Pietrasanta
      Pieve Fosciana
      Porcari
      San Romano in Garfagnana
      Seravezza
      Sillano
      Stazzema
      Vagli Sotto
      Vergemoli
      Viareggio
      Villa Basilica
      Villa Collemandina

  • Massa-Carrara
    • Aulla
      Bagnone
      Carrara
      Casola in Lunigiana
      Comano
      Filattiera
      Fivizzano
      Fosdinovo
      Licciana Nardi
      Massa
      Montignoso
      Mulazzo
      Podenzana
      Pontremoli
      Tresana
      Villafranca in Lunigiana
      Zeri

  • Pisa
    • Bientina
      Buti
      Calci
      Calcinaia
      Capannoli
      Casale Marittimo
      Casciana Terme
      Cascina
      Castelfranco di Sotto
      Castellina Marittima
      Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina
      Chianni
      Crespina
      Fauglia
      Guardistallo
      Lajatico
      Lari
      Lorenzana
      Montecatini Val di Cecina
      Montescudaio
      Monteverdi Marittimo
      Montopoli in Val d'Arno
      Orciano Pisano
      Palaia
      Peccioli
      Pisa
      Pomarance
      Ponsacco
      Pontedera
      Riparbella
      San Giuliano Terme
      San Miniato
      Santa Croce sull'Arno
      Santa Luce
      Santa Maria a Monte
      Terricciola
      Vecchiano
      Vicopisano
      Volterra

  • Pistoia
    • Abetone
      Agliana
      Buggiano
      Chiesina Uzzanese
      Cutigliano
      Lamporecchio
      Larciano
      Marliana
      Massa e Cozzile
      Monsummano Terme
      Montale
      Montecatini-Terme
      Pescia
      Pieve a Nievole
      Pistoia
      Piteglio
      Ponte Buggianese
      Quarrata
      Sambuca Pistoiese
      San Marcello Pistoiese
      Serravalle Pistoiese
      Uzzano

  • Prato
    • Cantagallo
      Carmignano
      Montemurlo
      Poggio a Caiano
      Prato
      Vaiano
      Vernio

  • Siena
    • Abbadia San Salvatore
      Asciano
      Buonconvento
      Casole d'Elsa
      Castellina in Chianti
      Castelnuovo Berardenga
      Castiglione d'Orcia
      Cetona
      Chianciano Terme
      Chiusdino
      Chiusi
      Colle di Val d'Elsa
      Gaiole in Chianti
      Montalcino
      Montepulciano
      Monteriggioni
      Monteroni d'Arbia
      Monticiano
      Murlo
      Piancastagnaio
      Pienza
      Poggibonsi
      Radda in Chianti
      Radicofani
      Radicondoli
      Rapolano Terme
      San Casciano dei Bagni
      San Gimignano
      San Giovanni d'Asso
      San Quirico d'Orcia
      Sarteano
      Siena
      Sinalunga
      Sovicille
      Torrita di Siena
      Trequanda

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Tuscan Archipelago

Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, and Campigna
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