• Paul

A BIT ON THE SIDE


Name something in Italy that leans slightly to one side. No, there’s not a joke about the Italian parliament in there, I’ve already looked. We’re talking of course about the Leaning Tower of Pisa.


A little bit too far to the right. (There’s a Mussolini joke in there somewhere too.) (Pixabay)

You know the one: that 180ft bell tower in Tuscany that leans so steeply to one side that its higher side stands a full 81cm taller than the side nearest the ground. It’s one of the most famous landmarks in the world, and its extraordinary crookedness only adds to its charm. But it must have been amazing to see it when it was originally completed: you know, standing true and solid, straight up in the air.

Except—spoiler alert—that never happened.

You see, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has always leaned. In fact, it started its unstoppable tilt groundwards not long after work began on it way back in 1173, and so horrendously lopsided was the early part of its construction that work stopped for a century while the architects figured out what to do about the problem.

Of course, like all good architects, they decided that the best thing to do about the building they were constructing listing unstoppably to one side was just to ignore the problem and CONTINUE BUILDING IT AS IF NOTHING IS WRONG.

And so that’s precisely what happened: by the time the Tower of Pisa was completed in 1399, it was already leaning. The incline has worsened over the centuries since (it now stands about 10 degrees off plumb) but recent strengthening works have slowed, if not halted, its tilt. Nevertheless, the fact still stands: the Leaning Tower of Pisa has never been straight.


#architecture #history #Europe

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