Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Italian: Torre pendente di Pisa) or simply The Tower of Pisa (La Torre di Pisa) is the campanile, or self-supporting bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa. It is situated behind the Cathedral and it is the third structure in Pisa's Campo dei Miracoli (field of Miracles).
Although planned to stand vertically, the tower began leaning to the southeast soon after the onset of construction in 1173 due to a poorly laid foundation and loose substrate that has permitted the foundation to shift.
The height of the tower is 55.86 m (183.27 ft) from the ground on the lowest side and 56.70 m (186.02 ft) on the highest side. The width of the walls at the base is 4.09 m (13.42 ft) and at the top 2.48 m (8.14 ft). Its weight is estimated at 14,500 tonnes. The tower has 294 steps.
The Tower of Pisa was a work of art, performed in three stages over a period of about 174 years. Construction of the first floor of the white marble campanile began on August 9, 1173, a period of military success and prosperity. This first floor is enclosed by pillars with classical capitals, leaning against blind arches. Today, it is still unscarred from centuries of weather and age.