Pisa leaning tower - history and building of Pisa tower
In Italy, every Cathedral has a bell tower. And people pass them by every day noticing them a little, or not at all…
But there is one Cathedral bell tower that everyone in the world knows of. You could pretty much call it the super- star of cathedral bell towers: it’s the Pisa leaning tower!
Back in 1173, when its construction began, Pisa was one of the most powerful trading centers on the Tyrrhenian sea and the Mediterranean in general. They conquered many lands: Jerusalem, Carthago, Ibiza, Norway, Spain, Morocco…
But they had one enemy as well… the Florentines. To show off their strength and wealth to the Florentines before anything else, the Pisans decided to build a magnificent cathedral. As it was custom back in the time when a town’s success was measured by the splendour of its cathedrals and the height of its bell towers.
But then something went wrong… due to the fact that it was built on marshy ground and that the foundations were too shallow, by the time its construction reached the 3rd floor, the tower started tilting.
The construction of the leaning tower of Pisa was being interrupted every few years because of warfare, so from the moment when the first stone was set to the moment the tower was finished, it was around 150 years that passed.
And… it took another 30 years to finally put the bell tower on top, in 1350.
But by the time the Pisa tower was finished, the Pisans had no reason to show off anymore: they lost in the war against Genoa and a century later, the town of Pisa was sold to their worst enemy… Florence.
So, what did the people of Pisa do when they noticed the Pisa bell tower became the Pisa leaning tower? Well, when they got over one of the biggest embarrassments of architecture history, they tried to correct the tilt of course.
So they started building each new storey a bit higher on the tilting side, to make up for the difference… but the effect was even worse – due to all that extra stone, the Pisa leaning tower started leaning even more!
By the 20th Ct, the Pisa tower was leaning more than 20 feet south, and a rescue effort began… the engineers had to remove the soil from the northern side to even it out as much as possible.
Due to the work on it, the Pisa tower had been closed from 1990 - to 2008 because of safety fears!
The restoration lasted 11 years and $27 million later the lean was reduced by 15 inches.
Today, the Pisa leaning tower is located north from the center of Pisa, in the middle of the Piazza dei Miracoli (The Field of Miracles), which is the largest preserved monumental complex of the Medieval world and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It is one of the most visited monuments in the world, it’s almost as if we cannot believe it defies gravity until we see it for ourselves!
The tower of Pisa is either a 20-30 minute walk from the Pisa train station, a 10 minute local bus ride from the Pisa train station, or a quick taxi ride away. You can read more about getting to the Pisa leaning tower in our article Getting to Pisa tower.
It is many a cruisers’ stop on the way to or from Florence Italy, but that’s only if you don’t plan to climb the tower. If you just wish to take a few photos of you propping up the tower and have a little walk around the Cathedral and the Baptistery, less than an hour in Pisa is enough!
If you think it would be really cool to have a pizza in Pisa, our recommendation will be… don’t!
If you’re staying there just a few hours you will automatically gravitate towards the uber-expensive tourist-trap restaurants right by the tower and pay through the nose for very average quality food.
Our recommendation is: get to the Pisa leaning tower, take some photos, enjoy the setting and move on…
If Pisa is your only destination for the day and you really wish to climb the tower, make sure you read our article on Climbing the leaning Tower of Pisa.