Like the Roman Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the seven wonders of the medieval world that is located in Italy. Unlike the Colosseum, however, this wonder is most well known for its unusual stance, and the fact that it has managed to last so many years without toppling over.
Built as a Cathedral tower, within the City of Pisa in 1173 and designed by Bonanno Pisano, the leaning tower was laid upon flawed foundations. The substrate beneath it was too loose to support the weight of the tower and as a result it soon began to lean south west at a 3.99 degree angle.
At the time, this Cathedral was considered a reputable work of art. It has a 7-bell chamber, added in 1372 and exhibits Romanesque architectural style. However, its construction was carried out over 177 years due to the fact that it began to lean. Today this is the main reason that so many people come to see the tower, and although many have suggested it should be corrected, the only restoration has been to discolouration of the walls and a correction in the lean from 5.5 degrees to 3.9
Contrary to what you may believe, the leaning tower of Pisa can be visited in person and even entered. There are 294 steps inside which make up the spiral staircase and via these it is possible to reach the top, and see the six open galleries along the way. At the belfry at the top of the tower, the seven bells are still in place.
This tower has been incredibly well preserved since it was first built over 800 years ago. This may be because it has been well known as the ‘leaning tower’ and it has become a national treasure for this very reason and a well preserved one. One other contributing factor to its longevity was the fact that there were battles between Pisa and Genoa, Florence and Lucca shortly after its construction. It was therefore left alone for a considerable time which left enough time for the unstable substrate below it to harden and become safe enough so that the tower didn’t topple over when further work was carried out on it.
We can be fairly sure that the Leaning Tower of Pisa that we see today is almost identical to the one that was built in 1173. Apart from, of course, the fact that it now leans at 3.9 degrees rather than 5.5.
How to Get There:
Pisa has its own airport that is very easy to fly to from most European airports and some US ones too.
The tower itself is only two and a half miles from the airport, but it’s likely that you’ll want to check in to your hotel and drop off your luggage first. Luckily for visitors, Pisa is a well populated and quite tourism-led city so it’s very easy to get around. There are lots of taxis, several buses and you can even rent scooters to get around quickly and easily providing you have a UK driving license.
Where to Stay:
For a hotel stay with a view of the tower included within the price, try the Villa Kinzica Hotel. This mid range accommodation has a restaurant and air conditioned rooms, for around $150 per night. Due to the tourist-led nature of this city, most of the hotels have rooms at around this price and few go much lower than $100 per night.
For a luxury stay in Pisa, try the Hotel Relais Dell Orologio, where rooms start at around $200 per night. A stay at this hotel includes a breakfast buffet, marble bathrooms and wooden beam ceilings in many of the rooms.