Leaning Tower of Pisa History: How a Mistake Became a Masterpiece

Do you know the Leaning Tower of Pisa resulted from a human error? A simple miscalculation in the 11th century resulted in an incredible 14,500-ton leaning tower! 

The history of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is full of centuries of architectural wonder and engineering challenges.

Here is the extensive and fascinating history of this amazing architecture, which is well-known for its tilt and spans over eight centuries.

Leaning Tower of Pisa Timeline

1172: Construction begins on the Leaning Tower of Pisa, intended to be the freestanding bell tower for the Pisa Cathedral. Engineer Bonanno Pisano lays the foundation.

Late 1170s: As construction progressed on the first three stories, the Leaning Tower began to tilt due to the soft underlying soil.

1233: Work on the tower is paused for nearly a century due to concerns about the tilt.

1272: Construction resumes under architect Giovanni di Simone, who attempts to compensate for the tilt by building the upper floors slightly higher on the leaning side.

1284: An earthquake rocks Pisa, but the Leaning Tower remains standing. Construction is halted yet again.

1319: The seventh floor is completed, bringing the tower to a height of 55 meters (180 feet).

1372: The bell chamber is finally added, marking the completion of the Leaning Tower after nearly 200 years.

1590: Galileo Galilei, a young scientist, is said to have conducted experiments on falling objects by dropping weights from the Leaning Tower.

1838: Efforts begin to stabilize the Leaning Tower, which has reached a tilt of about 4 degrees. These efforts involve adding internal weights to the base on the non-tilting side.

1934: Engineers attempt to straighten the tower by extracting soil beneath the high side. However, this process proves unsuccessful and is eventually abandoned.

1964: The Leaning Tower is closed to the public due to safety concerns as the tilt worsens. Extensive stabilization efforts commence.

1990s: A major project involving soil removal and installing steel cables and counterweights is undertaken to slow and eventually reverse the tilt.

2001: The Leaning Tower reopens to the public after a decade of successful stabilization efforts. The tilt is reduced to a safer 3.93 degrees.

2008: Monitoring the Leaning Tower continues, with ongoing adjustments and maintenance to ensure its stability for future generations.

You can get deeper insights and answers to your questions about the history of the Leaning Tower of Pisa by booking a guided tour.

Early History of Leaning Tower of Pisa

With several pauses and labor stoppages, the construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa took place over almost 200 years.

The architectural error that resulted in the lean eventually made the tower famous. It holds the UNESCO World Heritage designation, even though the original plan was to create a straight tower.

Under the guidance of architect Bonanno Pisano, the building of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a component of the cathedral complex, began in 1173. 

Soon after construction, the tower started tiling because of the soft ground beneath its foundations. 

Following a century-long break caused by a battle that stopped development in 1178, work was restarted in 1260 under Giovanni di Simone. 

From roughly 1350 onwards, Tommaso Pisano directed the last phase of the project. 

The tower’s incline persisted despite attempts to rectify it, reaching 5.5° until interventions—including Mussolini’s fruitless attempts in the 20th century—were attempted. 

Fortunately, the special qualities of the soil beneath the tower allowed it to withstand many earthquakes and World War II. 

The Italian government began looking for ways to save it from collapsing in 1964, and restoration work began in 1990.

Discover intriguing facts about the Leaning Tower of Pisa to deepen your understanding of this iconic landmark’s unique history and architectural marvels.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa Today

Over the next ten years, the Leaning Tower of Pisa progressively started to realign itself after the final stabilizing attempts in 1990. 

Its incline has been greatly decreased, even though it still has its trademark leanness thanks to sophisticated engineering and counterweights. 

Reopened to the public in 2001 with a more restrained lean, further evaluations conducted in 2008 showed an astounding 19-inch correction. 

Today, the tower, together with the other monuments in the Square of Miracles, is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations.

Experts say the tower’s future is “bright,” with sophisticated surveillance systems keeping an eye on even the smallest alteration in its sway. 

With a sophisticated monitoring system that combines satellite and ground-level data collecting to guarantee its stability, the Tower of Pisa is currently one of the most watched structures in the world. 

With the lean now returning to that of the early 19th century, the consolidation works have restored considerable confidence in the tower’s future and signaled the success of this renowned landmark’s preservation campaign.

Eager to check the Tower of Pisa off your bucket list? Check out the best ticket options and reserve your spot today!


When was the Leaning Tower of Pisa made?

The construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa began in 1173. The tower took over 200 years to construct and is known for its unintentional tilt.

What was the original purpose of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

What are some of the most common myths or misconceptions about the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

How did the construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa impact the surrounding landscape or city of Pisa?

Are there any ongoing scientific studies or research projects related to the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

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