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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Why Was the Leaning Tower of Pisa Built

His flaw made him famous

Gleaming in the sunshine in Tuscany, Italy, stands the tower of Pisa.  If the tower had been straight, it would have been just another building, but the fact that he leans at a precarious angle has gained it worldwide attention.  Why was the leaning tower of Pisa built?  It was constructed for a very specific purpose.

Why the tower was built

In the 11 century, the citizens of Pisa were sailors who set out to conquer countries and islands such as Spain, Norway, Britannia, Norway, Mallorca and Ibiza.  The citizens of Florence were their enemies and the sailors wanted to display a sign of their wealth.  A fancy tower seemed just the thing.

Building the tower of Pisa

An architect’s nightmare right from the start.

·       Field of Miracles  was chosen as its location. 
·       Construction was started on August 14, 1173. 
·       After the foundation was laid and three stories were build, the city of Pisa ran out of money and construction was halted. 
·       Unknown to the architect, Field of Miracles used to be a river delta, now filled with sand.  This made the surface unsuitable for heavy buildings.
·       Shortly after the third floor was built, the architect realized that the tower leaned toward to south.  In 1272 counter weights were added to prevent the building from collapsing.
·       In that same year construction was interrupted, Pisa declared war on Florence.  Funds that were assigned to building the tower were now spend on warfare.
·       In 1372 the tower was completed.
·       In 1838, Alessandro Della Gherardesca wanted to show off the detail that went into the base of the tower and ordered a path to be constructed around the tower.  When the workers struck water, the tower began to lean even more.

Specifications of the tower

The brainchild of Bonanno Pisano.

·       While the exterior of the tower is marble, the interior is constructed from lime and lime mortar.  The architect probably didn’t know that the lime is the reason why the tower stood the test of time without breaking or cracking.
·       On the low side, the tower measures 183.27 feet from the ground, on the high site its height is 186.02 feet.
·       At the base of the tower, the walls are 13.42 feet wide, while at the top they are 8.14 feet wide.
·       The tower’s weight is estimated at 14,500 metric tons. 
·       Between 1990 and 2001 restoration work was done to straighten the tower.  While the tower used to lean at an angle of 5.5 degrees, this was reduced to 3.99 degrees.
·       Visitors can climb the tower via 196 steps at a price of 20 Euros.

Field of Miracles

Other than the tower of Pisa, the Duomo the Baptistery and the Baptistery of San Giovanni were built on the Field of Miracles. 

·       The latter was built in the 11th century and finished in the 14th century.  
·       Even though the diameter of the Baptistery is 115 feet, the acoustics of the dome are so good that you can whisper on one side and be heard perfectly on the other.  
·       Students fear the baptistery as, according to legend, should they walk around the building they will never get their degree.

Why was the leaning tower of Pisa build?  So the people of Pisa could show off their wealth to the city of Florence.  Which didn’t help them in the end, as they lost the war with Florence and were enslaved.

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