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Leaning Tower of Pisa is Tilting Less

Friday, November 30, 2018

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The committee that monitors Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa has recently confirmed that the monument, famous for its tilt, has straightened by about 1.5 inches.

Some History

Construction on the structure, originally built as a bell tower for Pisa’s cathedral, began in 1173 and began leaning five years later.

The tower is built on a layer of clay and sand, with one side softer than the other. By the time builders got to the third story, the soil had shifted and unsettled its foundation. Various attempts were made to correct the tilt, but it kept getting worse.

PhotoFires / Getty Images

The committee that monitors Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa has recently confirmed that the monument, famous for its tilt, has straightened by about 1.5 inches.

In January 1990, the tower was closed to the visitors that the leaning tower had by then famously amassed—which totaled around 800,000 a year.

After that, a team of engineers dug out dirt from underneath the side that the tower was leaning away from and attached heavy weights to the structure, which quickly reduced the tilt by about 17 inches. That fix reportedly cost about 200 million pounds (about $255.6 million).

And Now

“Since restorative work began, the tower is leaning about half a degree less,” said Nunziante Squeglia, a geotechnics professor at the University of Pisa who works with the group. “But what counts is the stability of the tower, which is better than initially predicted.”

The report that it has straightened another 1.5 inches came out of a report by the surveillance group, which meets every three months to discuss the monument’s condition.

Other measures to preserve the tower have been taken as well—visitor climbs are controlled to reserved tour groups only, now accommodating 400,000 climbs a year.


Tagged categories: Engineers; Public spaces

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