Monday, June 2, 2008

Pisa's Protected Position

The Tower of Pisa is a campanille, or a free standing bell tower of the city's Cathedral. Although intended to stand vertically, the tower began to lean towards the south side at the onset of construction in 1173 due to poorly laid out foundation and weak subsoil, which allowed the foundation to shift direction. The 3 meter foundation caused the tower to sink after construction progressed to its third floor. The soil settled when construction was halted for almost a hundred years due to the continuous wars the city had to face with its enemies. Clocks were installed on the third floor of the unfinished building in 1198.

The tower is a work of art, with its Romanesque style blending harmoniously with the Gothic elements of the bell chamber. It was performed in 3 stages that lasted 177 years, having seven bells for each musical note of the musical scale. Construction resumed in 1272 and the engineers built the additional floors with one side higher than the other, to compensate for the tilt. This made the tower correct itself slightly. The seventh floor was completed in 1319 and the bell chamber was added in 1372. The last and biggest bell was installed in 1665.

In 1934, Benito Mussolini ordered the tower to be set in a vertical position, so concrete was added to its foundation which caused it to sink further. In 1964, the Italian government requested assistance to prevent the tower from collapsing.
The tower was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, yet, even after so many suggestions by a multinational task force, the tilt was never prevented, such that the government closed the tower to the public in 1990.

In 1998, another proposal was submitted to prevent its collapse. After more than 10 years of restoration, the team that worked on the tower declared that it has stabilized and should remain unmovable for at least 200 years. The job cost 26 million Euros which involved extracting 70 tonnes of earth from the Northern side for the tower to correct itself; and the installation of high-tech monitors beneath its foundations and in the tower itself to prove that it has stopped moving.

The tower's unique charm which has made it a world famous landmark is due largely to its leaning or tilting characteristic. It is such a revered landmark that even the Sicilian Mafia planned to make it one of its bombing targets during the anti-organized crime campaign in 1993. It was also in the sights of the Islamic terrorist groups which the Italian Police discovered in 2003. Tourists flock to this city by the thousands to marvel at its grandeur and its defiance of gravity after 800 years of constant decline. But the declaration of its stability and non-movement somehow lost a considerable part of its attraction and magic. In the past, there was some feeling of adventure, risk, and a little nagging fear going up the tower. The idea that it could fall at that instant made it all the more exciting. But the engineers may have overdone their job that the tower would diminish in stature.

For 800 years, it was called the Leaning Tower of Pisa, an adjective that is unique to the structure and the place. Today, it will simply be called the Tower of Pisa, nothing spectacular, nothing sensational. It has lost its splendor. It even lost its loving title as the "world's wonkiest piece of architecture". It may as well be bought and converted into Shakey's super store in Europe, and renamed the Tower of Pizza.



Kim said...

certainly a wonder of the world Durano....
I had no idea that the tower had been straightened...
thanks for this interesting piece of history...
I suppose for safety's sake it was destined to be....

I noticed that EC has had another outage ;)

SheR. said...

Ah.. what a nice history. Never been there. Hopefully I can make it there next year.. I'm just right across the sea from it!!! I need Moses to part the Adriatic Sea right now.. so I can cross over! :P

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

It used to be considered one of the 7wonders of the modern world as far as I can recall.

I suppose you're right about the safety part, but if they had retained the tilt and a certain degree of decline each year... easier said than done maybe and I should give it a rest. It's just that it has lost its distinctive quality. :-)--Durano, done!

There may be too many droppers in entrecard that their servers can't handle the volume.

By the way, I noticed a new avatar of yours. Looks good! Did you gain some weight and get a new hairstyle? LOL! :-) Dd!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Sher,

You don't need Moses. There are means of going there without having to go back to biblical characters.

Speaking of Moses, do you know that he makes apparitions to this day? On George Bush's recent trip to Jerusalem, he saw Moses and he called him 3 times - but he never responded. Then an aide went beside him to ask if he was Moses and the old man turned and said "yes". When the aide inquired, "why didn't you answer when President Bush called you 3 times"? Moses replied," The last time I talked to a Bush, I wandered the desert for 400 years and then settled my people in the only place where there's no oil. Shit"! :-) --Durano, done!

The Aries said...

Nice post
Hope the Pisa still protected
Success for you

The Success

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Aries,


Thanks for the compliment. Yes, the Pisa Tower is protected and will not move an inch. Thanks for the visit.

Success to you too. :-) --Durano, done!