One of Italy’s most famous landmarks, and the launchpad for a million quirky and funny photos, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a marvel which has fascinated people for centuries. In fact, it’s likely been around for longer than many people can imagine! But what else is there to learn about the Leaning Tower beyond its curious landmark? Here are a few interesting facts about the Leaning Tower of Pisa worth learning more about if you’re heading to Italy any time soon.
Why does the tower lean? Believe it or not, it’s due to construction anomalies. It’s thought that the ground for the tower was far too soft for its weight and girth, giving it that famous lean. However, it’s thought that this issue was only picked up on midway through adding a second tower on top! Whoops!
However, the famous lean wasn’t a sudden or overnight event. In fact, it started sinking over a long period of time. After ongoing efforts to try and offset the sinking and lean, it seems that Pisa has just leant into the quirky appeal – pun intended!
Pisa, in fact, has more than one leaning tower. The Church of St Nicola has a bell tower that most certainly leans over to one side – and again, it’s due to the quality of ground that the structure is built into!
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is around 56m high at tallest, though it was originally built to be around 60m tall.
Construction on the tower crossed at least two centuries, meaning that several generations of Italian construction experts worked on the project. Designs for the Leaning Tower of Pisa first emerged in around 1173, though it wasn’t finished until 1399 – 226 years!
The city of Pisa is more historic than the tower, however, as it’s thought to have stood since at least 600 BC. Therefore, there are plenty of other historical artefacts and structures to discover around the area.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa boasts around 251 steps leading up to the summit.
We’ve all seen photos of people pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa – but how much strength would it actually take to prop it up? At around 14,500 tonnes in weight, you’d probably need more than one strong pair of hands to keep things upright!
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is so old that the legendary Galileo Galilei was baptised here!
In fact, it is said that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was home to one of Galileo’s famous gravity experiments. He is thought to have dropped cannonballs from the tower of different masses to see if they fell at different speeds. From here, Galileo started to form some of his world-changing theories.
The tower is home to a series of bells which each ring at a different note. However, believe it or not, the bells of the tower haven’t rung for over 100 years.
One of the reasons for this might be to do with the ancient history of ringing the ‘Bell of the Traitor’, which pealed out whenever a treasonous criminal was executed.
That said, the fact that the tower bells are likely to create some serious shakiness and vibrations in the tower and the ground is another good reason to keep them quiet. The tower’s on a slant already as it is!
The Leaning Tower of Pisa was once earmarked for destruction during the Second World War after Pisa was retrieved from German control. However, thankfully, orders to destroy this particular landmark went unheeded.
The tower has, believe it or not, leaned in different directions! Additional tower stories added to the structure caused it to slant towards a different point on the compass.
Intriguingly, the Leaning Tower of Pisa may not yet be done leaning altogether. It’s possible that the tower will start leaning even further in another 200 years, meaning that – at least during our lifetime – the tower is likely to stay at its current angle until 2200.
Benito Mussolini, infamous Italian dictator, took it upon himself to try and fix the famous lean in 1934. However, despite immense funds and effort, the tower sunk deeper and deeper into the ground – he made the lean worse!
Do you have any fun or interesting facts about the Leaning Tower of Pisa that we’ve missed out? Share them here in the comments section below!