I was doing some research on updates in travel news when I ran across this information about The Leaning Tower of Pisa. I thought I might share what I learned, because I think it makes the prospect of visiting the tower considerably more exciting than before.
I would have to say that The Leaning Tower of Pisa is probably one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, which is what I had in mind when I decided to take the drive west from Florence into Pisa. I wanted to learn some of the history behind the building, and of course take the obligatory staged picture of myself “holding up” the tower.
After centuries of trying varying methods to correct the continual sinking of The Leaning Tower of Pisa, scientists and architects in Italy think they might have finally solved the problem…at least for the next three hundred years.
During the initial stages of construction, builders only got to the third floor before the building began to sink into the unstable clay. Over the course of the centuries the Tower continued to lean further and further. Many different methods of righting the building were tried, all to no avail. In the 1930s, under the direction of Benito Mussolini, concrete was poured in the Tower’s foundation; however, this effort only caused the building to sink more.
The Tower was closed 18 years ago due to fears that it might topple over, and by 1990 The Leaning Tower was more than four meters off of its original true vertical. Scientists estimated at this point that the Tower would collapse some time between 2030 and 2040. Not wanting this priceless landmark to perish, the Italian government spent €30 million on an extremely advanced project to remove soil, while also injecting cement into the foundation. The goal of this project was to ensure that the Leaning Tower wouldn’t sink any further, and to slightly reduce the angle of the tilt. When work was finished in 2001, the wires and counterweights holding the Tower up were removed, and the building reopened to the public.
When I first visited the Leaning Tower in 1998 the experience was enjoyable, and seeing the tower up close was definitely worth it. However, the fact that the tower had lots of cables attached to it, and more importantly that I wasn’t allowed to go inside, certainly detracted from my experience. I am definitely excited to go back and visit now that the tower is more of an interactive endeavor.
In 2008, there has been talk of opening up a “secret door” that was closed in 1930. This door grants visitors access to the center of the Tower, which allows one to look up through all the levels of the building to the sky above. I haven’t heard anything one way or another on these plans, but being able to stand in the middle of the Leaning Tower would definitely be a cool experience.
Hopefully you found this interesting and informative. Please share if you have heard anything more about these improvements to The Leaning Tower.
“Ted on The Travel Desk”
Ted Phelps, Customer Travel Consultant