The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Romanesque Europe

Why is the Leaning Tower of Pisa … well, leaning?

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, or Campanile, (Italian for bell tower) is part of a larger cathedral complex uniformly designed in white marble. The tower, built between 1171 and 1271, started to lean even before construction was completed because of the soft ground upon which it was built, and because the base was too small for the nearly 180 foot height of the tower. The builders tried to adapt to the lean during construction, and a slight bend is noticeable in the upper floors. This did not work. In the last few decades, structural engineers have excavated underneath the tower in order to stabilize it.


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