When it comes to iconic landmarks in Italy, few structures offer the same mystique and wonder as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The truth is, in spite of an elegant appearance, this unusual sight is almost frightening to see as the forces of gravity seem to drag it closer to the ground with every glimpse.
At just over 187 feet, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is quite an intimidating structure and a very distinct sight on the skyline of Pisa. Featuring decorative designs, the arches and columns make this tower especially attractive and a spiral staircase on the inside leads all the way to the top of the tower.
Although it featured in a famous Superman movie back in the 1980s, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has been notorious throughout time and the historical significance of this structure is just as interesting as the sight itself.
Now, let’s learn a little more about what makes the Leaning Tower of Pisa such an interesting attraction:
For many visitors, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is just some random attraction but this was in fact a bell tower that was built for a cathedral. Needless to say, the tower is located in the town of Pisa and the tilting nature of the structure was completely unintended.
As for when the tower might fall?
Well, experts say that it will take at least two hundred years before gravity gets its way but even this is not certain. In other words, some experts believe that the Leaning Tower of Pisa will stay upright forever and recent restoration efforts will ensure this is the case.
As you may know, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was constructed on especially sandy soil which eventually led to the strange position of the tower.
In case you might be asking yourself, “Pisa” is the Greek word for “Marshy land” and this name was given to the surrounding area back in 600 BC. You will also find several more towers in the area such as the bell towers at St Nicola and St Michele Demi Scalzi churches.
With this in mind, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was built as the bell tower for a cathedral, which is now also sinking due to the marshy nature of the area. You will also find the Campo Santo cemetery next to this tower which is also sinking in spite of being made up of sods of earth that were transported by ship from Jerusalem to Pisa.
In terms of design, this is also a real spectacle and the tower consists of Romanesque style architecture from medieval times. In fact, construction of the tower began back in the 12th century but it was not until 1399 when this building was finally complete.
You see, these efforts were interrupted when supervisors noticed how the tower was beginning to tilt. Certain changes were made to compensate but it was concluded that nothing could be done to stop the pull of gravity. Over time, the towers grew in notoriety and in 1350, Galileo famously climbed to the top in order to carry out some gravity-related experiments.
Anyway, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has always been known for this bizarre tilt and this is now one of the most popular attractions in all of Italy. Interestingly, the tower needs to be monitored on a daily basis and surveillance team even meet every few months to discuss various aspects including restoration, tourist numbers and safety issues.
While the tower is clearly the main attraction, there is also other things to do in the area that you might want to consider:
Piazza dei Miracoli - Miracle Square is now a network of walkways between an open grass area. You will also find numerous museums around the piazza, several restaurants and a luggage facility.
Pisa Cathedral – You can visit this beautiful cathedral for free and the intricate interior is the perfect example of how dedicated and accurate the craftsmanship was during medieval times.
The Cathedral Duomo – Built in 1063 by Buschetto, this is another wonderful cathedral with no entry fee and an especially interesting collection of art.
Baptistery – You can also visit the Baptistery and even the ancient cemetery, although certain tickets are needed and these can be obtained in the nearby visitor center.
Situated next to the Cathedral of Pisa in the Piazza dei Miracoli, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is within easy reach of nearby towns and hotels. What’s more, you can visit the tower at any time of year and the opening times are quite long during summer, most often between 9am and as late as 10pm. Many of our Italian dual citizenship through descent clients prefer to visit the tower weekday mornings or late evenings to avoid the crowds. The tower looks especially romantic at night.
However, if you want to climb to the top, you will need to make a reservation with a ticket agency or an organization such as Opa. With this in mind, visitors also have a very short amount of time to climb to the top (30 minutes) and just a few people are permitted inside the tower at any one time.
In terms of how much time you might need for a visit, you could easily spend two hours exploring the area but many more if you wish to visit the museum, cemetery and nearby churches.
While many visitors seem most interested in getting an obligatory photograph of them holding up the structure, there is much more to the Leaning Tower of Pisa than meets the eye. With fascinating history, colorful architecture and a truly atmospheric staircase on the interior, this is arguably one of the few times when you can forgive the mass tourist crowds in Italy.
That is to say, many of the most famous attractions in Italy are rather overcrowded but there is often a reason for this being the case and visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa is certainly worth the effort.