Leaning Tower of Pisa… a landmark that survived after World War II

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of Italy's most famous and strange historical and tourist attractions due to its leaning shape. It is located in the city of Pisa. Its construction started in 1173 AD and after the construction started, it took almost 200 years to work on it due to its inclination of 5.5 degrees. After restoration work that lasted from 1990 to 2001, the angle of inclination became 3.66 degrees.

an ancient historical monument

Although it has only 8 floors and is about 56 meters high, this landmark took almost two centuries to build.

According to accounts circulated by several sources, it is most likely that the total period of construction of this building, which dates back to the Middle Ages, was approximately 200 years, since most researchers set the date of its foundation in the year 1173 AD, And due to the long period of its construction, a large number of architects, sculptors and workers succeeded in building it.

Thereafter it continued to be of interest to experts and specialists, whose main concern was to straighten out its deformities and try to save it from collapse. It is even said that Benito Mussolini, the Italian military commander who ruled Italy between 1922 and 1943, ordered engineers to straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa in 1934, but they could not do so.

Several accounts indicate that the tower has resisted the rigors of the ground on which it was built for hundreds of years, and that it escaped destruction by US military weapons during World War II, as did some of its surroundings. Unlike other historical monuments which did not do so. Survive the fire of war.

Pisa Cathedral and Leaning Tower on a sunny day in Pisa, Italy.  Pisa Cathedral with the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in the Italian city of Pisa (Getty)

Place

The Leaning Tower of Pisa stands on the throne of the Italian city of Pisa in the Tuscany region in northern central Italy.

Pisa is located in a quiet, sparsely populated province near the Ligurian Sea. It is bordered by Florence to the east, about 80 kilometers east, and the province of Grosseto to the south, while the city borders the province to the north. of Lucca, and of Tuscany in the west.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located behind the cathedral in the square known as Miracle Square, and was the last landmark built there, as it was originally a church bell tower.

This architectural building, in addition to the Cathedral of Pisa, is surrounded by several historical buildings, such as the Cathedral Museum, located on the eastern side of Miracle Square, and the Baptistery of Pisa, built in 1152 AD. In the garden with statues and corridors in the Campo Santo cemetery, where icons were buried. Aristocrat class.

construction history

Most reports written about the Leaning Tower of Pisa date back to the 12th century AD, specifically August 1173 AD.

Although historians have been unable to determine the architect who began construction of the tower, several accounts indicate that the Italian architect and sculptor Bonanno Pisano began its construction, and also indicate other engineers who completed the work. Were successful in doing.

epa03749324 An exterior view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, published in Pisa, Italy, 17 June 2013.  The Leaning Tower is a major attraction of Italy.  EPA/Franco Silvi
It took 199 years to build the Tower of Pisa (European News Agency)

Construction of the tower went through three basic phases. Construction began with the first floor, which was surrounded by 15 white marble columns with classic capitals and traditional arches. Work continued for 5 years on the first and second floors.

Specific reports suggest that the construction of the third floor started in the year 1178 AD, but at that time it was observed that the tower was leaning by about 5 degrees towards the south-east due to the soft nature of the soil where it was built. had started. , so the construction process was halted to prevent the tower from collapsing and to allow its floors to settle and its soil to regain stability.

Due to this forced stop imposed due to the spongy nature of the soil, and due to political reasons related to the wars that Pisa fought with its neighbors, the construction of the third floor alone took 90 years.

In 1272 AD, the engineer Giovanni de Simone was commissioned to complete the construction of the tower, and it reached the seventh floor. He worked to reduce the degree of tilt on the remaining floors of the tower, and faced many criticisms for his inability to adjust the tilt of the tower, but in return he succeeded in building the floors and increasing the height of the tower to 7. Reached the destination and could not be stopped. Construction work stopped completely.

After work stopped for almost 60 years, the architect Pisatomaso Pisano completed the construction of this historical site in 1372 AD.

label

The Leaning Tower of Pisa takes its name from its shape, its degree of deviation from the vertical plane, and the name of the city in which it was built. Due to its proximity it also got the name of the city's cathedral bell. This church and its bells were used for ringing.

There are those who call it the Marvel Tower, and other names that have made this historic building a landmark that violates all recognized laws of engineering. Everything built on soft ground and at a significant height is considered doomed to collapse.

Pisa Cathedral, Pisa, Tuscany, Italy
The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built to serve as a bell tower for the nearby Pisa Cathedral (Getty)

recipe

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was constructed of white marble in the Roman style. From the outside, it looks like a cylindrical stone building with a facade made of grayish-white limestone brought from the city of San Giuliano. It has balconies and massive, solid columns that support it, and above it is a room for the bells of the cathedral church.

There are no rooms inside the tower, and its central part consists of a hollow cylinder, the interior facade of which is made of decorative Verrocana stone.

The Tower of Pisa has 8 floors or floors that are connected by a spiral staircase, which has 300 steps and also has an electric elevator.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is not the only leaning tower in the world. There is a long list of steeper steeples, such as the Sorhausen Bell Tower in the German state of Saxony, which has a tilt of up to 5.7 degrees. However, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the most famous leaning building in the world.

Efforts to save it continued, and work to convert it back into a vertical tower by modifying its shape did not stop, but all efforts failed and were in vain.

Over time, the degree of inclination of the Leaning Tower of Pisa decreased from the previous 5.5 degrees to 3.99 degrees, and thanks to restoration work that took place between 1990 and 2001, the inclination decreased to approximately 3.66 degrees, and it was noted that these The work was successful and the top of the tower was displaced horizontally.

Leaning Tower of Pisa seen against blue sky
The Tower of Pisa has 8 floors (floors) connected by a spiral staircase (Reuters)

economy

The leaning shape of the Leaning Tower of Pisa makes it a major attraction for tourists from both inside and outside Italy.

Six floors of the Tower of Pisa are dedicated to enjoying the natural views of the city of Pisa or its surrounding villages, making it a tourism window not only in Pisa, but throughout Italy.

The tower attracts large numbers of tourists, estimated at millions annually, who come from all over the world and from Italian cities to see the tower and the towers close to it, such as the clock tower, the Knights' Square and dozens of churches. In addition to other nearby historical monuments full of secrets of the ancient Roman civilization.

The city of Pisa takes its credit from this tourist movement as it is considered one of the ancient Italian historical cities, and is known for its many ancient buildings that have become famous international tourist attractions.

flags

According to the testimony of many historians, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is associated with the name of the Italian architect and sculptor Bonanno Pisano, who laid the foundation stone of this historical building.

He is a son of the city of Pisa, where he grew up and spent many years of his life. It is said that after construction of the tower began, Pisano traveled to the city of Monreale in Sicily to make the doors of the cathedral, and he died soon after returning to Pisa and was buried beneath the tower. In 1820, his stone coffin was discovered, and in 1838 an impression of a metal plate was found which also bore his name.

Reopening the Leaning Tower of Pisa
The leaning shape of the Leaning Tower of Pisa made it a major attraction for tourists both inside and outside Italy (Anatolia Agency)

Among the eminent people whose names are associated with the Tower of Pisa is the engineer Giovanni de Simone, who decided to complete the journey to Pisano.

In the year 1272 AD, Giovanni took up the task of completing the construction of the Tower of Pisa and tried to return it to its natural vertical position by straightening its curvature, but he could not succeed in doing so and the work stopped again.

There is also the engineer Pisatomaso Pisano, who took up the torch and tried to work on this historic site after more than 60 years of lapse. He was credited with completing the construction of the seventh floor and adding the bell chamber in 1319 AD, and then finally completing the tower in 1372 AD.

base station

In 1990, the Italian government decided to close the Tower of Pisa, whose inclination had reached 5.5 degrees, for fear of it collapsing, as had happened to the belfry of Pavia Cathedral in 1989. It convened a group of Italian and foreign experts in engineering, soil studies, restoration and other fields to discuss ways to save the tower using various tools. The weights are made of lead alloy and thick steel ropes, and several techniques are used to ensure the stability of the building.

Experts confirmed that the tower is leaning at a greater angle than before, and concluded that it is no longer safe for tourists and visitors. It was necessary to reduce its angle of inclination; It remained closed for 11 years.

During this period of restoration and maintenance work, the team of international experts succeeded in returning the tower to its previous state by placing lead weights on the north side and gradually removing tons of sand from the soil beneath the north side. The tower was leaning. to the south, and in February 2000, it was placed more lead to the north to accommodate the tilt.

Italian scientist Galileo Galilei (Shutterstock)

By June 2000, the tilt was corrected and restored to the angle at which it was in 1870, and with the completion of restoration works in June 2001, the tower returned to the angle at which it was in 1838. Was in.

The Tower of Pisa was officially handed over to the city authorities, but it was forbidden to visit and tourists were forced to wait more than 5 months, until special security barriers were put in place and in 2001. The tower was never reopened.

an experience

One anecdote told about the Leaning Tower of Pisa is that it was the site of the most famous physical scientific experiment in human history. Apart from being a place to ring church bells and an excellent tourist destination, it had other goals as well.

Reports suggest that Italian scientist Galileo Galilei, a mathematics professor at the University of Pisa, used the Tower of Pisa as a location to carry out a new scientific experiment in the late 16th century AD.

Galilei dropped two pieces of different masses from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. His purpose in this experiment was to prove the scientific hypothesis that the time of free fall does not depend on mass, and objects fall with uniform acceleration.

This is an experiment that refuted Aristotle's theory of gravity, which was prevalent at the time, and which stated that the speed of falling objects depends on their mass. This new scientific fact was taken up by Galilei's student Vincenzo Viviani to record it in a. He wrote this book in 1654 and was published in 1717.

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