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Why The Famous Tower of Pisa Leans

The Tower of Pisa, also known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, is one of the most iconic buildings in Italy. As its names suggests, this tower is best known for its tilt, and is perhaps the most renowned leaning building in the world. This tilt, however, was unintentional, and was the result of poor planning on the part of its architects. The city’s physical geography is also partially to be blamed for the tower’s tilt, as several other buildings in Pisa are tilted as well.


The Tower’s History

The Tower of Pisa was originally built as a campanile, or bell tower, next to the Cathedral of Pisa, in the Piazza del Miracoli (meaning ‘Square of Miracles’). The building of these two structures was part of a project to enrich the Piazza del Miracoli. In addition to the bell tower and the cathedral, the construction work also involved the building of the Baptistry and the Monumental Cemetery.

The Tower of Pisa was the third of these structures to be built (the fourth being the Monumental Cemetery), though it was the last to be finished. The construction of the bell tower began in 1173, and the architect responsible for this building phase was either Bonanno Pisano or Gherardo di Gherardo. By 1178, three of the tower’s eight stories had already been built. It was just after the completion of this third story that the tower began to lean north.

Physical Geography and Poor Foundation

One factor that contributed to the tower’s tilting is the physical geography of Pisa itself. This city got its name in 600 BC from a Greek word meaning ‘marshy land’. Thus, the city’s soft soil, which consists of mud, sand, and clay, is partially to be blamed for the tower’s tilting.

Incidentally, there are a number of other buildings in Pisa that are leaning as a result of being built on the soft soil. These include San Nicola, a 12th century church to the south of the Leaning Tower, and San Michele degli Scalzi, an 11th century church to the


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