My son wanted to build one of the Lego architecture models so he got himself the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Then came the natural question as to why it is leaning. And the two of us went into the research mode. Here I have to say that Lego did give a manual, which had brief information about the Tower of Pisa.
We did a little bit of our own research; the Internet is full of material about everything and anything.
We eventually uncovered quite a few interesting facts.
Fact 1: The city of Pisa sits between Arnio and Serchio rivers making the soil very soft. It is composed mainly of clay, fine sand and shells.
Fact 2: Donna Berta Di Bernardo had donated 60 gold coins to the local cathedral for the stones to be used in the new bell tower. Hence began the construction and also the problems that started along with it.
Fact 3: The construction started without taking into consideration the nature of soil. Therefore problems started as soon as the construction began.
Fact 4: By the time the 2nd floor was built the tower was beginning to lean to the North.
Fact 5: Historians say that thankfully there were wars to fight hence the construction came to a grinding halt for nearly 100 years. This gave the soil the opportunity and time to settle down; else the tower would have surely toppled.
Fact 6: When the work resumed by the time it had reached the seventh floor the tower was leaning to the South. But then again for some unknown reason the work stopped again and the Mother Earth got ample time to adapt before the construction started again.
Fact 7: Construction continued intermittently throughout the next century.
Fact 8: Since the tower’s completion engineers and scientists all over the world have monitored its tilt.
Fact 9: They have tried to correct it by adding grout to the foundation masonry, wrapping plastic-coated steel pieces around the tower up to the second floor, pouring a concrete ring around the base of the tower, laying lead counterweights to the north side, installing anchored cable counterweights, and extracting soil from underneath the north side.
Fact 10: Judging that the tower was leaning precariously and could topple any time a team consisting of soil specialists and scientists and engineers came together to minimize the risk to th tower as much as possible.
Fact 11: By 2001it had decreased the tower’s lean by 44 centimeters (17 inches), enough to make officials confident that they could reopen the monument to the public. Even after the drilling had stopped, the tower continued to straighten until, in May 2008, sensors no longer detected any motion. By then, the tower had lost another 4 centimeters (2 inches) of its lean and seemed to be in no immediate peril.
Fact 12: In spite of these potential problems, engineers expect the famous structure will remain stable for at least another 200 years. By then, another intervention may be required, but the technology available to make improvements could be far more advanced and preserve the tower for another 800 years.
Travel Advice: So hey anyone out there planning to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you can do so without any fear of the monument collapsing on you.
Trivia: The leaning tower of Suurhusen, Germany, now holds the record as the tower with the biggest lean — 5.19 degrees. The German tower received the dubious honor only because restoration work reduced the lean of Pisa’s most recognized landmark.