Pisa leaning tower -
history and building the Pisa tower

"Pisa leaning tower...you could pretty much call it the super- star of cathedral bell towers!"

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.

DINING-ROOM TABLE TIDBIT: Legend says it was from the top of the Pisa leaning tower that Galileo Galilei experimented with gravity. Allegedly, from there he dropped 2 cannon balls of different weights to prove that their speed was not the result of their mass.

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.

DINING-ROOM TABLE TIDBIT: Some engineers say that Pisa leaning tower shouldn’t be moving anywhere for the next 300 years but others say it is still sinking about 0,03 inches (1 mm) each year.

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. 

Pisa 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…there is so much more to see in this corner of the world!

If Pisa is your only destination for the day and you really wish to climb the tower, read our aticle on different ways of getting from Livorno to Pisa or simple consider taking one of the cruisers-only transfers to Pisa, it's the best, stress-free way to see Pisa and can include climbing to the Tower of Pisa.

Want a guided tour that includes climbing the tower? No worries, here's my best buys:


From PISA LEANING TOWER to Mediterranean Cruise Ports Easy

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.


Hello! My name is Martina and I have been living, working and cruising in the Med for the past 20 years. Now I want to make you Med confident! Read more about me...


1. Livorno to Pisa

2. Port of Venice

3. Naples to Pompeii

4. Capri ferry

5. Livorno to Florence

6. Kusadasi shopping

7. Livorno to Pisa by Bus

8. Map of Venice

9. Port of Dubrovnik

10. Livorno Italy

11. Venice people  mover

12. Dubrovnik Croatia

13. Naples to Capri

14. What to pack for Europe

15. Getting to Dubrovnik

16. Messina Sicily

17. Pisa Train

18. Visiting Pompeii

19. Pompeii forum

20. Port of Piraeus

21. Getting to Florence

22. Venice vaporetto

23. Venice water bus

24. Livorno map

25. Getting to Zadar

26. Venice cruise terminal

27. Walk Venice

28. Mykonos beach

29. Tourist information Lucca Italy

30. Pomepii homes