Leaning Tower of Pisa facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsLeaning Tower of Pisa
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|Height (max)||55.86 metres (183.3 ft)|
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a building in Pisa, Italy. It is a bell tower. It is famous because it is not vertical. The tower was once leaning more and more to the ground, but recently much restoration work has been done to stop it from falling over completely. There was scaffolding all around the tower for 20 years. On 26 April 2011, the last bit of scaffolding was removed so that the tower can be seen properly again.
When the second floor was built in 1178, the tower started to lean. This was because it had a small three-meter foundation in soft soil. The design of this tower was bad from the beginning. Construction was stopped for almost 100 years because the people of Pisa were often at war with Genoa, Lucca, and Florence.
Like the Roman Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the seven wonders of the medieval world that is located in Italy.
There has been controversy about the real identity of the architect of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. For many years, the design was attributed to Guglielmo and Bonanno Pisano, a well-known 12th-century resident artist of Pisa, famous for his bronze casting, particularly in the Pisa Duomo. Pisano left Pisa in 1185 for Monreale, Sicily, only to come back and die in his home town. A piece of cast bearing his name was discovered at the foot of the tower in 1820, but this may be related to the bronze door in the façade of the cathedral that was destroyed in 1595. A 2001 study seems to indicate Diotisalvi was the original architect, due to the time of construction and affinity with other Diotisalvi works, notably the bell tower of San Nicola and the Baptistery, both in Pisa.
Construction of the tower occurred in three stages over 199 years. Work on the ground floor of the white marble campanile began on August 14, 1173 during a period of military success and prosperity. This ground floor is a blind arcade articulated by engaged columns with classical Corinthian capitals.
The tower began to sink after construction had progressed to the second floor in 1178. This was due to a mere three-metre foundation, set in weak, unstable subsoil, a design that was flawed from the beginning. Construction was subsequently halted for almost a century, because the Republic of Pisa was almost continually engaged in battles with Genoa, Lucca, and Florence. This allowed time for the underlying soil to settle. Otherwise, the tower would almost certainly have toppled. In 1198, clocks were temporarily installed on the third floor of the unfinished construction.
In 1272, construction resumed under Giovanni di Simone, architect of the Camposanto. In an effort to compensate for the tilt, the engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other. Because of this, the tower is curved. Construction was halted again in 1284 when the Pisans were defeated by the Genoans in the Battle of Meloria.
The seventh floor was completed in 1319. The bell-chamber was finally added in 1372. It was built by Tommaso di Andrea Pisano, who succeeded in harmonizing the Gothic elements of the bell-chamber with the Romanesque style of the tower. There are seven bells, one for each note of the musical major scale. The largest one was installed in 1655.
After a phase (1990–2001) of structural strengthening, the tower is currently undergoing gradual surface restoration, in order to repair visible damage, mostly corrosion and blackening. These are particularly pronounced due to the tower's age and its exposure to wind and rain.
- On January 5, 1172, Donna Berta di Bernardo, a widow and resident of the house of dell'Opera di Santa Maria, bequeathed sixty soldi to the Opera Campanilis petrarum Sancte Marie. The sum was then used toward the purchase of a few stones which still form the base of the bell tower.
- On August 9, 1173, the foundations of the tower were laid.
- Nearly four centuries later Giorgio Vasari wrote: "Guglielmo, according to what is being said, in [this] year 1174 with Bonanno as sculptor, laid the foundations of the bell tower of the cathedral in Pisa."
- On December 27, 1233, the worker Benenato, son of Gerardo Bottici, oversaw the continuation of the construction of the bell tower.
- On February 23, 1260, Guido Speziale, son of Giovanni, a worker on the cathedral Santa Maria Maggiore, was elected to oversee the building of the tower.
- On April 12, 1264, the master builder Giovanni di Simone and 23 workers went to the mountains close to Pisa to cut marble. The cut stones were given to Rainaldo Speziale, worker of St. Francesco.
- Giorgio Vasari indicated that Tommaso di Andrea Pisano was the designer of the belfry between 1360 and 1370.
- One possible known builder of Pisa Tower was Gerardo di Gerardo. His name appears as a witness to the above legacy of Berta di Bernardo as "Master Gerardo", and as a worker whose name was Gerardo.
- A more probable builder was Diotisalvi, because of the construction period and the structure's affinities with other buildings in Pisa, but he usually signed his works, and there is no signature by him in the bell tower.
- Giovanni di Simone was known to be heavily involved in the completion of the tower, under the direction of Giovanni Pisano, who at the time was master builder of the Opera di Santa Maria Maggiore. Di Simone could be the same Giovanni Pisano who completed the belfry tower.
History following construction
Galileo Galilei is said to have dropped two cannonballs of different masses from the tower to demonstrate that their speed of descent was independent of their mass. However, the only primary source for this is the biography Racconto istorico della vita di Galileo Galilei (Historical Account of the Life of Galileo Galilei), written by Galileo's secretary Vincenzo Viviani and published in 1717, long after Viviani's death.
During World War II, the Allies suspected that the Germans were using the tower as an observation post. A U.S. Army sergeant sent to confirm the presence of German troops in the tower was impressed by the beauty of the cathedral and its campanile, and thus refrained from ordering an artillery strike, sparing it from destruction.
Numerous efforts have been made to restore the tower to a vertical orientation or at least keep it from falling over. Most of these efforts failed; some worsened the tilt. On February 27, 1964, the government of Italy requested aid in preventing the tower from toppling. It was, however, considered important to retain the current tilt, due to the role that this element played in promoting the tourism industry of Pisa.
A multinational task force of engineers, mathematicians, and historians gathered on the Azores islands to discuss stabilisation methods. It was found that the tilt was increasing in combination with the softer foundations on the lower side. Many methods were proposed to stabilise the tower, including the addition of 800 tonnes of lead counterweights to the raised end of the base.
The tower was closed to the public on January 7, 1990, after more than two decades of stabilisation studies and spurred by the abrupt collapse of the Civic Tower of Pavia in 1989. The bells were removed to relieve some weight, and cables were cinched around the third level and anchored several hundred meters away. Apartments and houses in the path of the tower were vacated for safety. The solution chosen to prevent the collapse of the tower was to slightly straighten it to a safer angle by removing 38 cubic metres (1,342 cubic feet) of soil from underneath the raised end. The tower was straightened by 45 centimetres (17.7 inches), returning to its 1838 position. After a decade of corrective reconstruction and stabilization efforts, the tower was reopened to the public on December 15, 2001 and was declared stable for at least another 300 years. In total, 70 metric tons (77 short tons) of earth were removed.
In May 2008, engineers announced that the tower had been stabilized such that it had stopped moving for the first time in its history. They stated that it would be stable for at least 200 years.
Two German churches have challenged the tower's status as the world's most lop-sided building: the 15th-century square Leaning Tower of Suurhusen and the 14th-century bell tower in the town of Bad Frankenhausen. Guinness World Records measured the Pisa and Suurhusen towers, finding the former's tilt to be 3.97 degrees. In June 2010, Guinness World Records certified the Capital Gate building in Abu Dhabi, UAE as the "World's Furthest Leaning Man-made Tower". The Capital Gate tower has an 18-degree slope, almost five times more than the Pisa Tower; however the Capital Gate tower has been deliberately engineered to slant. The Leaning Tower of Wanaka in New Zealand, also deliberately built, leans at 53 degrees to the ground.
- Elevation of Piazza del Duomo: about 2 metres (6 feet, DMS)
- Height from the ground floor: 55.863 metres (183 ft 3 in), 8 stories
- Height from the foundation floor: 58.36 m (191 ft 5.64 in)
- Outer diameter of base: 15.484 metres (50 ft 9.6 in)
- Inner diameter of base: 7.368 metres (24 ft 2.1 in)
- Angle of slant: 3.97 degrees or 3.9 metres (12 ft 10 in) from the vertical
- Weight: 14,700 metric tons (16,200 short tons)
- Thickness of walls at the base: 2.44 metres (8 ft 0 in)
- Total number of bells: 7, tuned to musical scale, clockwise
- 1st bell: L'Assunta, cast in 1654 by Giovanni Pietro Orlandi, weight 3,620 kg (7,981 lb)
- 2nd bell: Il Crocifisso, cast in 1572 by Vincenzo Possenti, weight 2,462 kg (5,428 lb)
- 3rd bell: San Ranieri, cast in 1719–1721 by Giovanni Andrea Moreni, weight 1,448 kg (3,192 lb)
- 4th bell: La Terza (1st small one), cast in 1473, weight 300 kg (661 lb)
- 5th bell: La Pasquereccia or La Giustizia, cast in 1262 by Lotteringo, weight 1,014 kg (2,235 lb)
- 6th bell: Il Vespruccio (2nd small one), cast in the 14th century and again in 1501 by Nicola di Jacopo, weight 1,000 kg (2,205 lb)
- 7th bell: Dal Pozzo, cast in 1606 and again in 2004, weight 652 kg (1,437 lb)
- Number of steps to the top: 296
About the 5th bell: The name Pasquareccia comes from Easter, because it used to ring on Easter day. However, this bell is older than the bell-chamber itself, and comes from the tower Vergata in Palazzo Pretorio in Pisa, where it was called La Giustizia (The Justice). The bell was tolled to announce executions of criminals and traitors, including Count Ugolino in 1289. A new bell was installed in the bell tower at the end of the 18th century to replace the broken Pasquareccia.
Leaning Tower of Pisa Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.