Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
Is there a more iconic building than the Leaning Tower of Pisa? The world renowned sight of the slanting tower is a medieval mistake which is now one of Italy’s most visited buildings. What many don’t know is that it is actually the Bell Tower to a rather impressive cathedral, as it is part of a beautiful cathedral square with three other buildings. The Tower itself was not designed to slant but did so upon its construction in 1173. It has 207 columns ranged around eight stories, all constructed from dazzling white marble, which spiral up to the bell chamber itself which has 16 arches. Thankfully it has been strengthened significantly to ensure it doesn’t topple, and can now be safely traversed giving visitors an excellent view over Pisa and the nearby Cathedral, Baptistery and Cemetery. Faced in gray and white striped marble and bursting with columns and arches, the entire cathedral square is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture, despite the tower being one of the most famous constructional mishaps in the world.
Where is it?
Pisa is situated in the north west of Italy, just above the nearby city of Livorno in the Tuscany region.
What is it?
The freestanding Bell Tower was constructed over a century from 1173. It was closed to the public amid safety fears, and in 1964 as a temporary measure a leaden counterweight weighing 800 tonnes was installed. In 1990 the Leaning Tower was closed again so the bell could be removed and the tower fully anchored. It is now totally safe for visitors to climb.
Best time to visit?
Pisa is at its best in June, when good weather is married with a number or local festivals, which bring the pretty city to life.
Aside from the Tower itself, visit the Cemetery. It is a gracefully extended cloister that encloses a solemn burial ground covered in earth reputedly brought back from the Crusades from Golgotha, the hill where Jesus was said to have been crucified.