Funky Facts About The Funky Leaning Tower of Pisa

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The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the most famous architectural oversight in the history of the world. Torre Pendent de Pisa is the Italian name for the campanile -free standing bell tower- of the Cathedral of Pisa.

The Tower is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Its 800 year history stretches from Mediaeval to Modern times. It is a testimony to man’s ingenuity and folly, to man’s creativity and destructiveness. Standing in the Piazza Dei Miracoli, the Field of Miracles, the existence of the Tower is indeed a miracle.

FACT 1: Construction on the Tower began on Aug 9, 1173. There are many completion dates, depending on the stage being considered. The Tower was finally stabilized in 2001, some sources count the time from start to completion as 800 years. The first two storeys were built without incident. When the third storey was added in 1178, the tower started to tilt slightly but noticeably. This shamed the proud residents of Pisa and worried the government. The fault was discovered to be the soft clayey soil, and construction was halted in the hope that the clay would harden.

FACT 2: Pisa was then immersed in a terrible war with Genoa and construction was resumed almost a century later in 1272. Though the name of the original architect has been lost in the mists of time, it is known that Giovanni di Simone was the architect who added on the next four floors. He tried to compensate for the lean by building one side of the added floors higher than the others. Unfortunately this had the opposite effect and the tower began to lean even more.

FACT 3: War broke out once again in 1284. At the Battle of Meloria, Pisa was defeated by Genoa and work on the Tower was halted again. The 7th floor was added in 1319, and the Bell Tower in 1372. The Tower was now complete, two hundred years after it was first started.

FACT 4: The hapless Tower received a further tilt, when Alessandro Della Gheradesca decided to build a walkway around the base to highlight the intricate carvings.

FACT 5: As Towers go the Leaning Tower is tiny. It is only 55.86 m tall. The Qutub Minar in Delhi, India, built in 1193 is 73 m tall. But what the Tower lacks inn height it makes up for in fame and beauty. Tourists from all over the world come to experience this marvel and to climb the 296 steps to the top on the South side. A lazy tourist could take a short cut and climb the 294 steps on the North side.

FACT 6: Despite the unfortunate oversight with regard to soil type, the Tower is a showpiece for the advanced architectural skills of Pisa. The columns and arches of the Tower indicate profound understanding of the principles of weight and load.

FACT 7: The Bell Tower has 7 bells. Each represents a note on the musical scale.

FACT 8: The Duomo Cathedral that stands alongside the Leaning Tower is also tilted, but the tilt is too slight to notice.

FACT 9: The biggest miracle is the fact that the Tower came through the two World Wars unscathed. The Allied troops on invading Italy were given orders to destroy any edifice that could be harbouring enemy snipers. No exceptions were to be made. The Tower was saved as the enemy retreated just in time.

FACT 10: Historians and engineers from around the world came together to make a plan to save the Tower. In 1990 the Tower was closed and it finally re opened in 2001. It was finally totally stable and its historic tilt kept intact. The anchored Tower is expected to continue to enthral tourists for the next three hundred years.

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