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15 Interesting facts about the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Updated on November 14, 2015

The Bell Tower 1173-1372

A fascinating building for me to see in Italy was the Leaning Tower of Pisa. How can it lean as it does and still keep standing after hundreds of years since its construction? The squishy, soft earth hardened around it and has kept it up, but leaning, since the late 1100's when construction began.

It is a beautiful bell tower and observation tower when one climbs to the top. I wouldn't know about that though, because I only made it to about the third floor and I became so dizzy and nauseated, I couldn't continue to the top. This happened because of the angle it leans at. I get motion sickness and vertigo very easily and the Leaning Tower of Pisa set this off in me. If you can climb to the top of this leaning tower you are of stronger constitution than I am.

I have been told the view from the top of Pisa and the surrounding area is quite beautiful. I wouldn't know. If or when you visit this tower, I hope you make it to the top. Good Luck! or as they say in Italian, Buona Fortuna!

1. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a campanile or a freestanding bell tower located behind the cathedral in the city of Pisa, region of Tuscany in Italy.

2. The height of the tower is 55.86 meters (183 ft.) on the low side and 56.70 meters (186 ft) on the high side, and it has seven floors and an observation deck at the top.

3. It weights approximately 14,500 metric tons (16,000 short tons)

4. The architect is credited as being Bonanno Pisano and he laid the foundation of the tower in August 1173.

5. Unfortunately, the three meter foundation was flawed from the beginning because it was laid in weak, unstable subsoil. The tilt began during construction because the ground was too soft on one side to properly support the weight of the tower.

6, The tilt of the tower increased over time before it was completed. And, it gradually increased until the tower was stabilized and the tilt partially corrected in the 20th and 21st centuries.

7. The tower has a total of 296 steps to the top and the seventh floor has two fewer steps on the north side facing staircase because of the tilt.

8. Before restoration in the 1990s and 2000s the tower leaned at a 5.5 degree angle.

9. Today the tower leans at approximately 3.99 degrees. The top of the tower is displaced horizontally 3.1 meters (12 ft 10 in) from where it should be if the structure were perfectly vertical.

10. Construction took place over three phases and 344 years. It is constructed of marble and the ground floor is a blind arcade with engaged columns with classical Corinthian capitals. Each phase of construction was interrupted by wars in which the city-state of Pisa was involved.

11. The second phase of construction continued in 1272. The architect now was Giovani di Simone, also architect of the Campasanto. He built the upper floors with one side taller than the other. Therefore, the tower is actually curved.

12. The third phase of construction continued in 1319. The seventh floor was built by architect Tommaso di Andrea Pisano. He brought together the Gothic elements of the bell-chamber with the Romanesque style of the tower.

13. There are seven bells in the tower. Each bell is one note of the musical major scale.

14. The bell chamber was constructed and added in 1372.

15. The home page for the Leaning Tower of Pisa is:

Copyright 2013 Suzannah Wolf Walker all rights reserved

The Leaning Tower of Pisa behind the cathedral in Pisa, Italy.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa behind the cathedral in Pisa, Italy. | Source
Top half of the tower.
Top half of the tower. | Source
Lead weights applied to the tower to ease the tilt.
Lead weights applied to the tower to ease the tilt. | Source
Spiral staircase in side the tower.
Spiral staircase in side the tower. | Source
One of seven bells in the tower.
One of seven bells in the tower. | Source
View looking down from the observation deck of the tower.
View looking down from the observation deck of the tower. | Source


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    • profile image

      4 months ago

      I don't think that I have a great way of

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      I am glad I could help you in your travels. You will enjoy it immensely and it is quite impressive. I hope you don't get nauseous as I did when trying to climb to the top. Lol!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

      This is a good primer for my European vacation......sometime in the next 3 to 5 years :)

      It is interesting to read about the ebb and flow of construction as it was fit in around the wars. Good history. Thank you.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      sunikunnoth, thank you so much for your kind and lovely comments. I am glad this has inspired you to see it. It does have such an interesting history and the fact that it is still leaning is amazing to me. I am glad Italy takes care of it and does not allow it to fall down. Sadly, I cannot walk to the top - I suffer from motion sickness and walking up gives me vertigo. LOL! Perhaps you will do better. If you get to the top, let me know how the view is!

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 3 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      It is everyone's dream to visit and enjoy a few moments on this wonderful site. It is an amazing construction. You have beautifully narrated all about this great building. I don't know if I can visit this or not. But surely I love to see it. Your article will fire my passion to reach this unique site. Thank you for sharing such a nice experience here.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      vox vocis: Oh, wonderful - a visit to Pisa will be a great vacation. I hope you do better at climbing the tower than I did lol. The slant has been corrected since I was there so it might not be as bad a climb for you. Italy is so beautiful day or night. Thanks for your comments and for your visit.

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 5 years ago

      I'm sure it will be an interesting experience to climb the Pisa Tower - chances are it could happen this summer :) Loved the pics in this hub, especially the last one at night.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      srsddn: Sorry, I must have misunderstood your comment. I still would love to see it - at least the architects and builders of Qutub Minar built it correctly! It sounds beautiful and I do remember seeing it in your hub - I read your hub and it was so interesting on all the different buildings and architecture in India. Just beautiful. Thanks so much for your insightful and thoughtful comments. Most appreciated.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 5 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      suzettenaples, Qutub Minar may not exactly be called leaning but it is known for its height, carvings and inscriptions and is really a grand historical structure. Incidentally, I mentioned about it in my Hub on Stone and Rock carvings in India. I am glad you took interest in this high tower as well. Have a nice day.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      srsddn: Oh, there is a leaning tower in India also? How interesting. I was so disappointed not to be able to climb to the top - I couldn't believe how dizzy I got and so disoriented by motion sickness. Oh well, all I could do was try. lol I hope I visit Qutub Minar some day - see if I can make it to the top of that one! Thanks for your visit and for your comments - most appreciated.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      SilentRead: Oh, no - how funny! No, pizza in Italy was invented in Naples, Italy. Pizza is not from Pisa. But, pizza and beer sounds good to me when visiting the tower anyway. You are right - must of been the beer! lol. Glad you enjoyed this hub. Thanks for your comments.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 5 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      suzettenaples, the facts mentioned by you are really interesting. There might be many more who faced the problem you did during your visit. Qutub Minar at Delhi is 72.5 metres high. That would be another interesting place except the leaning. Thanks for narrating the interesting facts. Thumbed up and found it quite interesting.

    • SilentReed profile image

      SilentReed 5 years ago from Philippines

      No.16 interesting fact is that Pizza has nothing to do with the city of Pisa where the leaning tower is located. :) I was once gullible enough to believe a friend who told me while we were having a Pizza over a couple of beers, that the Italian open pie bread dough originated from the Tuscany city of Pisa....maybe it was the beers;)

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Nell: How funny! I'm just not good with heights and then combined with motion sickness, I'm a goner. Sometimes though men are wimpier than we are! lol I have successfully climbed the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, so I'm not a complete wimp, just a woos. lol

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Thanks suzette, the highest I have been lately was in Osford the town of all the colleges, I took my nerves in hand and climbed to the top of the highest church tower and stepped out onto the little ledge! arghh! lol! my brother who was with me, clung to the wall like a limpet, but I was fine, I think!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Long Time Mother: I know, you'd think they'd start it over as it has been tilting since the foundation was put in. I'm Italian so I can say this: Number 1: The architect probably refused to admit he did it wrong. Number 2: He probably said he could fix it as construction went on Number 3: Italians never give up on anything! Thanks so much for reading and for your comments.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Nell: I admit, I'm a dizzy dame! lol. I am also a woos getting motion sickness so easily. I don't think people would be allowed inside it there was a chance it would fall over. It has been tilted since the beginning 1173, and they have straightened it a little in the last several years. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I hope you see it someday.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Gypsy Willow: I don't think it would fall over at this point. It has tilted since 1173, but it has been worked on to make it tilt less, so the tilt has been straightened a little. I don't think they would let tourists climb the stairs inside if it was not safe to do so. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading this and found it interesting.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      My Cook Book: Thank you so much for reading this and commenting. I appreciate your input. I'm happy you enjoyed this.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Bill: Thanks and I'm glad you found this interesting. I enjoyed writing it.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Faith: I hope you get there some day and I hope you make it to the top. I am a woos, as I get motion sickness so easily. The tilt has been evened out a little since I have been there, so perhaps it's no so bad today. Thanks so much for reading and I'm glad you enjoyed this. Your comments are most appreciated.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 5 years ago from Australia

      You have to wonder what the builders were thinking as they continued construction. Surely someone suggested pulling it down and starting again. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      I have always wanted to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and probably like you I would get half way up then want to come back down! lol! mind you I don't tend to get dizzy but the angle would probably scare me, as I would think that yes its been around for all those years but the second I climb it, it will fall over! lol! fascinating facts and voted up and shared! nell

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Thanks for telling us about this fascinating place. If it tilted any more would it fall over?

    • My Cook Book profile image

      Dil Vil 5 years ago from India

      Hub on Leaning Tower of Pisa... i like it. Interesting and informative. Pics are quite cool and facts are interesting. Thanks to you for a good read!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And you were correct in stating that these fifteen facts were interesting. Great info and I thank you for my education.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      I have always been fascinated by the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

      What beautiful architecture. I believe I could not make it up to the top either for the same reason you could not make it. I hope one day to get to travel to see it!

      Thank you for taking us along on a beautiful tour of the tower. The imagery is amazing.

      Thanks for giving us such a great history of this beauty that leans.

      Voted up ++++ and sharing (oops, will come back to share, as my share buttons are not showing up at the moment)

      God bless, Faith Reaper


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