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Things to do in Tower of Pisa
Why does the Leaning Tower of Pisa lean? The Romanesque 183ft (56m) campanile, was begun in 1170 but started leaning immediately due to the porous clay soil beneath it.
Building diagonal floors to offset the lean was attempted in 1272, but didn’t help. In 1372, the tower was leaning 4.5ft (1.4m). By 1993, it was 17ft (5.4m) and the tower was closed for ten years amid fears it might fall. But by 2013, it had started to lean slightly back in the opposite direction. What was happening?
Major engineering work had drained the water beneath, reinforced the foundations with concrete pillars, and bound the tower with steel cables. It worked. The tower reverted to the leaning angle of 300 years previously.
Some engineers believe it is possible to straighten the tower completely, but nobody wants that. Current predictions are that it will continue to straighten, stop, and then begin to lean again, but much more slowly than in previous centuries. The people of Pisa are happy. Three million tickets are sold each year to visit a leaning tower – not a straight one.
9.45am-5.15pm November and February
(1 November 9.00am-6.00pm)
10.00am-5.00pm December and January
(5-8 December: 9.00am-6.30pm)
(21 December - 6 January 10.00am-7.00pm)
9.00am-6.00pm until 23 March
(9.00am-7.00pm 23-29 March)
(8.30am-8.00pm from 30 March)
9.00am-8.00pm April to September
8.30am-10.00pm 17 June to 31 August
(16 June: 8.30am-5.30pm)
About the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Few people initially realize that the tower is part of a much larger complex at the Square of Miracles. Here, you’ll also find the Cathedral of Pisa (the Duomo), the baptistery and the monumental cemetery – all in the Romanesque style.
Construction began in 1173 and was completed in 1399 under the guidance of various architects. Alas, these guys didn’t know their Greek very well. The name ‘Pisa’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘marshland’ – not the kind of foundation you’d want for any tall building. Indeed, the baptistery and the cathedral are also sinking into the ground.
The other sights of the Piazza dei Miracoli are also historically very interesting and worth a visit. For example, the cemetery is made of no normal earth. It was created using 53 shiploads of holy earth taken from the hill of Calvary in Jerusalem so that the dead could enjoy some quality rest. Galileo was baptized in the baptistery here and spent some time throwing things off the tower when he got older. One of his experiments involved dropping two cannonballs of different weights to show that they fell at the same speed.
People forget that the tower’s main function was as a campanile: a bell tower. Accordingly, it has seven bells – one for each note of the musical scale. They have their own names: Assunta (the biggest), Crocifisso, San Ranieri, Dal Pozzo, Pasquereccia, Terza, and Vespruccio. They are still used to ring before masses and at midday each day. Try to time your visit to see (hear) the tower doing its stuff.
Piazza del Duomo, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy
Lines 3, 4 and Shuttle A from Pisa Centrale to the Tower
From train station entrance and across the city
From Pisa Centrale’s main entrance towards Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, turn onto Via Crispi to Ponte Solferino. Cross the bridge and continue until Via Roma, then along Via Roma to Piazza dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower
From San Rossore train station, take the subway and get off at Piazza Fancelli. Walk to Via Andrea Pisano, turn left and continue until you reach the Piazza dei Miracoli
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Reviews Tower of Pisa
“Went to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Very impressed with the structure up close and in person. If you care to go inside and walk up the 239 steps, make sure you have your strong legs on. The walk to the top was well worth the stops I had to take on my way up. Was quite surprised at myself getting so winded as much as I did. Overall, well worth the money spent.”