Leaning Tower of Pisa saved for 300 years

Leaning Tower of Pisa

McPig/Via Flickr

Photo: irene. via Flickr

Whew! The Leaning Tower of Pisa is not going to topple—at least for another 300 years.

The impressive Italian icon, which underwent a major stabilization effort in the 1990s, yesterday was declared safe for at least three more centuries.

“All of our best expectations have been confirmed,” said Michele Jamiolkowski,
emeritus professor of geotechnical engineering at Turin Polytechnic, who led
the project to safeguard the tower. “Now we can say that the tower can rest
easy for at least 300 years.”

The Leaning Tower, which began tilting five years after construction began in 1173, has never been on solid footing—literally. The tower was situated on unstable clay. Various attempts through the centuries to decrease the dangerous decline have never fully developed. Until now.

By 1990, the tower’s tilt had increased to more than 4 meters off its true vertical, prompting officials to close the tower to the public and prompting conservationists to estimate that the tower would collapse “sometime between 2030 and 2040.”

The latest project, though, has finally stopped the tower from moving for the first time in its 800-year history. Engineers used lead weights and cables to anchor the tower while more than 700 tons of soil were removed from one side and cement was injected.

The lean was restored to just under 4 meters off its true vertical, the same as it was in 1700. And the tower was declared safe for the public to re-enter in December 2001.

The project was so successful that the Leaning Tower of Pisa recently lost its distinction as the world’s most lopsided building. As Following the Equator reported last fall, the tower’s record was toppled by an obscure church in the tiny German village of Suurhusen.

Yesterday, the tower’s long-term prognosis was finally good news after it was determined that the tower has been stabilized and has not tilted anymore in recent years.

You can read all about it on the BBC. The best headline, though, goes to the New York Daily News: “Famous landmark has a new lean on life.”

Topics: Geography, History, Italy

Katie from EF

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