Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa - La Torre de Pisa - Italy

Leaning Tower of Piza

Leaning Tower of Pisa image

A humble tower and too many detractors!

Like all other structures the Tower of Pisa was also built to stand straight, but the fate of this particular one is to stand leaning for all its life. This lean turned out to be the tower’s identity and the credit of the Whole Pisa city. There were opinions from detractors that this structure was originally built to lean which were subsequently proved wrong after testing the ground soil and other details. There are more accusations against the leaning tower like a useless structure, it pauses danger to tourists etc. Unmindful of all these this tower is keeping on leaning and pulling crowds to the city of Pisa and bringing its cash registers ringing.

Who built it?

Work for this structure started on August 9, 1173, there is some dispute regarding the architect of this slanting tower which was intended to be the bell-tower for the Cathedral of Pisa. The generally accepted opinion points to the names like Guglielmo, Dioti Salvi or Bonanno Pisano. The styles adopted by these architects with their other works have been subject to study and since no conclusive decisions have been arrived at.


Leaning Tower of PizaLeaning Tower of Pisa image courtsey:

This tower (official name Torre Pendente di Pisa) is located in Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa Italy; is an 8 storied tower, it is 55.86 meters (183.27 feet) in height and its famous (notorious) slant is 5.5 degrees. That means that its the top is away from its base by 4.5 meters. The width of the wall at the base is 4.09 meters and that at the top is 2.48 meters altogether there are 294 steps that lead to the top. The first floor is supported by pillars with classical capitals. This entire tower is estimated to weigh 14,500 tons. Its foundation is just 3 meters in height and built in loose and unstable soil (reason for the slant).

Work calendar

The Construction of the Tower of Pisa is a two centuries old saga and closely related with the history of Pisa; which was not in good relation with its neighbors like Florence, Genoa etc. Wars between these neighbors were frequent and construction works were to be deferred more than two times. Detractors of this tower say that the construction of this tower itself was to boast before these neighboring counties!

August 9, 1173 work started.

1178, Third floor completed and the tower began to lean and the work got halted for about a century.

1272 work resumed under Giovannido Simone. He compensated the tilt by making one side longer there by giving the tower a curve.

1284 Work had to be again halted as in a war the Pisans were defeated by Genoans in the battle of Meloria.

1319 The seventh floor was completed.

1372 Bell chamber was completed by Tommaso di Andrea Pisano, he is said to be responsible for adding the Romanesque style (The architectural style equivalent to the Norman, prevailed in Europe from 5th to 9th century characterized by round arches, massive vaulting, heavy piers, columns and walls with small windows).to the tower.

The bell chamber contains seven bells one each representing a musical note.

1655 The largest bell was installed in the chamber.

1838 – 40, major renovation undertaken.

1934 Benito Mussolini got the base of the tower filled with concrete to straighten it up, in fact this work made the tower to sink further.

January 7, 1990 Entry to this tower was closed to the public and massive strengthening works undertaken, the bells were removed to lessen the weight.

December 15, 2001 reopened for public after work and it was certified that the tower will remain stable for about 300 more years.

One of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World.

Leaning Tower of Piza

Leaning Tower of Pisa Map courtsey:

This wonderful tower; approved by UNESCO as World Heritage Site; ‘that keeps on tilting without falling’ it also has been selected as one of the Seven Manmade Wonders of the World. One may be shocked to read that this world heritage was on the verge of destruction during the Second World War. Nazis took hiding in it and it was discovered by the Allies, by the fortune of the whole world the American officer deputed to deal with the affairs did not call for the cannon fire. Virtually the existence of this World Heritage Site hung on a single word from that unknown officer who deserves the status of a world war hero.

Taught the world about mass and gravity.

galilio Galileo Galilee image courtsey:

(Galileo Galilee; Feb 15, 1564Jan 8, 1642).

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has one more tryst with history as Galileo Galilee also a native of Pisa used this tower to prove his theory by dropping two cannon balls of different weights and established before the public that mass of a material does not affect acceleration due to gravity (things of different weights if dropped will fall in the same speed). Before this experiment the whole world thought that heavier fell in greater speed if dropped. This Tower of Pisa has seen much events since its construction and survived 9centuries keeping the world in tender-hooks about will fall and will not fall, let us hope it stands for ever sp that generations to come may also have a tender hook, will it or will it not?!!!

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