October 29, 2013

Italian landmark, Pisa Leaning Tower loses 2.5cm of its famous tilt

Pisa's leaning tower before the stabilisation works in 1992 (L) and at the end of the works in 2010 (R). Since the works, the tower's tilt has decreased even more
Its perilous incline has defied gravity since the 12th century.

But now the Leaning Tower of Pisa has lost some of its famous tilt, researchers have found.

An annual report on the monument’s stability has revealed that the tower had spontaneously recovered some of its vertical incline-straightening by 2.5cm since 2001.


The straightening is not a miracle, but the long term effect of an 11-year restoration project completed in 2001.

Previously the 56m bell tower’s tilt was increasing by more than a millimetre a year creating a danger that it could collapse altogether.


In 1993 it was leaning by 5.4m, compared to 3.8m in 1817 and just 1.4m in 1350.

The 14,500-tonne tower was shut for a decade while the foundations were reinforced and water was drained from beneath. Supporting steel cables were placed in circles around the structure.

After the £25million project, the tower straightened itself almost immediately by 38cm.

The 2013 study by a scientific committee tasked with monitoring the celebrated building confirmed 'that the bell tower is stable but tending to straighten'.

The tower's stabilising involved years of work, including emergency temporary steel cables, excavation of soil and digging wells to drain water
Giuseppe Bentivoglio, technical director of the monument, said the tower’s lean towards the south is shrinking.

The structural engineer explained: ‘The tower is moving. It is straightening towards the north. Between 2001 and 2013 it has recovered 2.5 cm of its incline.'

Mr Bentivoglio claimed the move was ‘expected’.

‘According to studies by researchers at Stuttgart University with whom we worked, the tower will continue to straighten another couple of millimetres and then stabilise before starting to lean again, but at a much slower rate than before.’

He added: ‘In theory it would be possible to straighten it completely.'

The tower's future is secure for another two- or three-hundred years, he said.

The prospect of losing Pisa’s unique selling point will not sit well with locals.

The tower brings in six million visitors to Pisa every year with three million buying tickets to climb its eight floors. Mayor of Pisa, Marco Filippeschi said: ‘The people of Pisa are delighted that the tower has been restored but not that it has been straightened.'


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