Why Does The Leaning Tower Of Pisa Lean?

Construction on the famously lopsided building began 842 years ago

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was never designed to lean.

Construction started on the tower, the third structure in Pisa’s cathedral complex, in August of 1173.

It was after three of the building’s eight stories had been completed that the uneven settling of the tower’s foundations became obvious. Construction was then paused as war broke out between the Italian city-states.

When construction resumed, the engineers tried to compensate for the lean by making the higher stories taller on the short side, but this only served to sink the tower further. The tower’s heaviest bells were then silenced due to fears they would worsen the lean.

In 1990, the building was closed for a major straightening scheme which succeeded in reducing the lean to 4.1 metres. Experts say the tower should now remain stable for at least another 200 years.

Discuss this article

Newsletter

Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
Submit