The Leaning Tower of Pisa - the most famous bell tower in Italy


As a symbol of the city Pisa In Italy, the Leaning Tower or Torre pendente di Pisa is one of the most famous sights in the world. The tilted position of the architecturally attractive tower ensures that it has become the city's most popular photo motif. Hardly any other piece of architectural planning fascinates people as much as the tower, which seems as if it could tip over at any time. The bell tower magically attracts tourists from all over the world all year round. Visitors from all over the world ask themselves why the Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually crooked.

Typically northern Italian - striking bell towers away from the church

Traditionally, large churches were built in northern Italy, the steeple of which is not directly adjacent to the sacred building, but away from the place of worship. This also applies to the Pisa Cathedral. Other well-known examples are the St. Mark's Tower on St. Mark's Square in Venice and the Duomo in Florence. These bell towers, which are typical of northern Italy, are known as "campaniles" and so the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Pisa has also received a "campanile". What nobody could have guessed during the planning phase is that it would not be the cathedral that would become the landmark of the Tuscan Pisas, but the associated "Campanile", which today attracts attention as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Pisa tower architecture

The UNESCO World Heritage Site Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta

Cattadrale di Santa Maria Assunta has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. The one with the white one Carrara-Marble The clad cathedral of Pisa is one of the most famous buildings in Tuscany. Consecrated in 1118, the cathedral and the bell tower, which was built in 1173, form an attractive ensemble. The baptistery is also part of the complex that is well worth seeing. The cathedral with its ornate facade, its impressive interior and its sacred treasures is impressive. Accordingly, visitors to the Leaning Tower of Pisa should take the time to explore the entire church complex and be enchanted, among other things, by the gilded coffered ceiling and the fascinating colonnades.

The reason for the inclination of the Campanile of Pisa

The foundation stone for the Leaning Tower of Pisa was laid in the summer of 1173. In the first step, the blind arcade with its columns was built. When the second portico was erected 5 years later, the building began to tilt. This led to a construction freeze and those responsible went to look for the cause. It was found that the foundation of the tower, which is only three meters deep, was built on predominantly sandy soil and loamy morass. Since there were no bells at that time, the unfinished structure was provisionally equipped with bells, as the construction was still at a standstill.

It took a century to complete the tower

It was not until a century after the construction stop, in 1272, that the architect Giovanni di Simoni took on the building. The architect made calculations and came up with the idea of ​​building the missing floors in such a way that they should compensate for the inclination and should practically form a counterweight. This should be achieved by unevenly distributed floors. If you stand in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you will notice that the building is not only tilted, but that the tower also appears displaced. This makes for a particularly impressive overall picture.

Architectural features

With a height of 55 meters and a diameter of 12 meters, the Campanile is quite impressive. Like the cathedral, the bell tower was built from Carrara marble. A total of 14.200 tons of the white marble were needed to build the tower. With its round construction, the Leaning Tower of Pisa differs from the square towers common in central Italy. On each floor it is possible to enter the respective portico through a door. This consists of 30 columns on each floor. Six steps lead from the top floor to the bell room, which today houses a total of seven church bells.

Preserving the Leaning Tower of Pisa is and remains a challenge

Due to its round floor plan and its high weight, as well as its height, the bell tower, which was completed in 1372, is still a challenge today. For many centuries, visitors to Pisa Cathedral were also able to visit and marvel at the bell tower, until it had to be closed to visitors at the beginning of 1990 due to its tilted position. This was followed by a 13-year renovation phase. Only since the end of 2001 can the Leaning Tower of Pisa be fully visited again. The visitors are granted admission in groups of a maximum of 40 visitors and this every 15 minutes. As a security measure, lead ingots were used as a counterweight and thanks to the soil extraction method, the inclination was reduced from 5,5 degrees in 1990 to 4 degrees. It can be assumed that new security measures will be necessary after 300 years at the latest.

One of the most striking and famous buildings in Europe

Although the Leaning Tower of Pisa is not the building with the highest angle of inclination in the world, it is one of the most famous. Galileo Galilei was already magically attracted by the round bell tower and he used the tower for his case studies that are still relevant today. Inside the tower, it is particularly impressive to take a look at the centrally mounted pendulum, which almost touches the side wall near the floor. There is also a beautiful view of the city from the tower. If you visit Pisa or Tuscany, you should treat yourself to a detour to the Torre pendente di Pisa, because it is one of the most impressive buildings in Europe.

How much is the entrance fee?

The admission price for the Leaning Tower of Pisa is bearable at 20 € (2022), the experience is unforgettable. You can buy the tickets in advance online buy.

Last updated: 06.02.2024

Image courtesy Photo by FilipFilipovic on Pixabay

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