Souvenirs from Pisa, Italy
The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre pendente di Pisa in original Italian) is one of the most famous and strangest landmarks of Italy, popular for its unique one side tilt. It is one of the four buildings from Piazza dei Miracoli (The Square of Miracles) in Pisa, a beautiful Romanesque complex which includes the Dome of Pisa, the Baptistery and the Campo Santo cemetery and it was erected as the bell tower of the Pisa Cathedral. Its tilt was caused by the soft ground it was built upon and throughout the years and up until its recent massive restoration works the tilt had been constantly increasing. With its beautiful cylindrical shape and elegant galleries, the Monument is a graceful Romanesque masterpiece with delicate columns and simple decorations. The eighth floor houses a charming bell chamber and 30 arches of white marble surround each of its stories. The beautiful Tower is now depicted on a resin fridge magnet souvenir available online for purchase.
The Tower of Pisa, a Three Century Challenge
The construction of the building lasted for more than 300 years and started in 1173 during a militarily successful Pisa Republic. However, the soft ground couldn't support the weight of the white marble construction so the Tower started to sink. For more than a century, the works at the tower ceased and Pisa focused on fighting its local rivals. This actually allowed time for the soil to stabilize until 1272 when architect Giovanni di Simone was commissioned to continue the works and one side of the upper floors was built higher in an attempt to compensate the tilt. In 1319 the last floor was completed in Gothic fashion after Andrea Pisano took over the design of the Tower. The overall architectural style of the building is Romanesque with a 14th century bell chamber finished to host its seven bells.
From Controversy to Fame
The biggest mystery surrounding the Pisa Tower relates to its real creator. The design had been believed to be Bonanno Pisano's, a local bronze artist who also built the Dome of Pisa. Still modern scientists suggested that the Tower's architect would be Diotisalvi who was the designer behind similar constructions such as San Nicola Bell Tower and the Pisa Baptistery. Another myth of the Tower claims that Galileo Galilei illustrated one of his theories by dropping two cannon balls from the tower. During the Second World War, the Nazi used the tower as an observation point and the only thing stopping the Allies bombing it was supposedly its impressive beauty. In 1964 the Italian government started a complex campaign to find a solution for the Tower's imminent toppling and international committees of experts tried to stop the building from self-destructing while preserving its tilt for tourism purposes.
Renovation and Correction in the Tower of Pisa
Among the many projects to reduce the tilt of the Tower, an old one even suggested tearing the Tower apart stone by stone and re-erecting it in a different place. In the 1920s, cement was injected at the bottom of the building for stability and in 1934 Mussolini forced renovation works but the cement used only made it sink further into the ground. In 1990, the Tower of Pisa was closed to tourists and a process of removing quantities of soil from underneath the building started. The tower was brought to its 1838 position and from an angle of 5.5 degrees it is currently leaning at 3.9 degrees. The correction works gradually stabilized the building up until 2008 when officials announced that the construction would be stable for at least 200 years.