top of page

History Behind the Leaning Tower of Pisa: Celebrating its 850th Anniversary

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a free-standing bell tower for the nearby cathedral in Tuscany, Italy. It is famous for its dramatic, gravity-defying structure built during the medieval era and miraculously standing still despite its leaning position. Because of its tilted appearance, over 5 million tourists each year are visiting the tower and it was labeled as one of the 7 wonders of the world. But how much do you know about the history behind the Leaning Tower of Pisa – the most photographed and one of the faces of tourism in Italy?

Located in Tuscany, Italy
The Leaning Tower of Pisa

History Behind the Leaning Tower of Pisa – Why is it leaning?

Do you ever wonder why the Tower of Pisa is leaning? As the construction of the tower began in August 1173, the leaning started when the builders reached the third storey. Its primary cause is believed to be the unstable, soft ground where it was built. Underneath the Tower of Pisa is a type of soil called “silty sand” and below it is 130 ft layers of clay, and deposits from the Arno and Serchio rivers. The ground at the north side of the tower is said to be more comprehensible than the south ground causing it to lean. The construction was finished in 1350. Hence, a series of massive projects were accomplished in 1990 in order to prevent the tower from leaning further and to save it from the brink of catastrophic collapse.

The Tower of Pisa was built in the 12th century to show-off the power and strength of the city as the place was previously regarded as a small but important Italian seaport. The city wanted to showcase its ambition in building grand infrastructures as a sign of wealth and economic stability. Many people think that it is one of the greatest engineering achievements of the medieval era, but it is not. It was a result of poor planning and a soft subsoil foundation that could not firmly hold the 8-storey building enough. Despite that, its imperfection makes it more beautiful and unique.

Leaning Tower of Pisa: A Tourist Hub

The Tower of Pisa charms about 14,000 tourists each day, making it one of the most visited landmarks in Italy so expect to see an endless queue. But taking cheesy, fun, instagrammable pictures with the famous leaning tower as your background is worth it. The city makes over 21 million Euros per year on tourism alone. Its popularity is undeniable. It is also considered as one of the best-preserved among ancient Roman architectures, it is designed in a circular shape with large granite of Corinthian column porticos. The overall look is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles. Known as the largest bell tower in Europe, the famous tower is situated on the Square Miracles (Campo dei Miracoli) one of the four buildings forming the cathedral complex. It is definitely a miracle on a square of miracles!

The Square of Miracles Cathedral Complex
Campo dei Miracoli

There are so many activities that the Tower of Pisa offers to its tourists and climbing on top of the tower is one of them. A tourist guide will introduce a brief history and some fun facts about the tower. After that, you’ll start to climb up the 297 steps of the spiral staircase. Six of the eight levels of the building serve as galleries open for the perfect city viewing. 30 people are permitted to go at a time. Each visitor is allowed to stay inside the tower for 35 minutes including climbing up and going down. The others need to wait in the queue until the previous batch has come out. The experience might sound rushed to get to see everything in a short period of time but it’s all worth it. Relish every moment at the top of one of the seven wonders of the world.

Did You Know?

Bells found at the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Seven Huge Bells

There are seven large bells on top of the Pisa Tower which signify the seven notes of the musical major scale. However, ringing the bells was not allowed for ages because its heavy vibrations could possibly affect the tilting of the tower.

1 comment

Related Posts

See All
bottom of page