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Leaning Tower of Pisa Facts

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most well-known buildings in the world. It makes up part of the cathedral complex in Pisa, Italy.

The tower was designed to be a circular bell tower and its lean started in the early days of its long construction period.

Leaning Tower of Pisa Facts for Kids

  • Construction of the tower began in 1173, although it wasn’t finished until 200 years later due to several wars.
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa is made from white marble, with 8 stories including the bell chamber.
  • The tower’s original height was 196 feet (60 meters) but its current height is 185.9 feet (56.67 meters) on its highest side, and 183.3 feet (55.86 meters) on its lower side.
  • The tower has 251 steps reaching up to the top and it weighs 15983 tons (14,500 tonnes).
  • The tilt started early in its construction and several attempts were made at various stages to correct it. These efforts have continued in recent years.
  • The top of the tower is approximately 12 feet 10 inches (3.9 meters) distant from the vertical, where it would be if it was completely straight.
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa, along with the neighboring cathedral, cemetery and baptistry have been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
  • The lean began shortly after construction was started as the foundations that had been laid were not sufficient and the ground upon which the tower is built is extremely soft. The many halts in construction due to ongoing wars enabled the ground to stabilize between building stages and the tower to remain upright.
  • The tower is in fact slightly curved as in an attempt to correct the tilt, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other.
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa was closed to visitors between 1990 and 2001 as the authorities were worried it had become too dangerous. During this period massive work was undertaken to correct the tower’s lean.
  • To stabilize and correct the tower’s lean to a safer angle, huge amounts of earth were removed from the tower’s raised end. This prevented the tower from continuing to move further and brought back its tilt to the level it was at in 1838.
  • It is believed that the tower, in its current state, will continue to stand for at least another 200 years

 

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Question: Why doesn’t the Leaning Tower of Pisa collapse?

Answer: The Leaning Tower of Pisa leans because its foundations are in soft soil which has over time caused it to sink. This has caused the tower to lean.

Although recent corrective work has made sure that the tower remains stable, the tower has remained standing over the years in spite of several earthquakes and two World Wars. These events could have toppled even straight towers, but experts believe that the same soft soil that is responsible for creating the tower’s tilt has protected it from tremors, by absorbing the vibrations.

Question: Is it possible to go up the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

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Answer: Visitors have been allowed to enter the tower since the end of 2001, after having been prevented from entering in 1990. Following recent stabilization work the tower is safe to enter and it is no longer increasingly moving away from the vertical.

Visitors can climb the many stairs to reach the top. Tourists often take their photos with the tower to look as if they are holding up or pushing it over. Today more than 1 million tourists visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa every year, making it one of Italy’s top tourist destinations.