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The Leaning Tower of Pisa
La Torre Pendente di Pisa

Pisa is a city in the Italian region of Tuscany - Toscana.  The river Arno flows through the city.  The famous astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa and he studied at the local University.

Image by Yeo Khee

The Leaning Tower is a famous bell tower in the city of Pisa.  In Italian it is called la Torre Pendente di Pisa.  It was built over a period of 200 years.  Construction began in 1173 and finished in 1373.

The tower is made of white marble and is seven-floors high.  However, during the building of the third floor, the tower began to sink and to lean to one side due to sandy ground.  This caused delays to the progress of the construction.  The tower is now leaning at 3.9 degrees but previously it was leaning at a greater angle and risked collapse! 

An extensive restoration project during the 1990s managed to slightly straighten the tower and to secure it from falling down.  In fact, the tower is being monitored by engineers who say that the tower is still gradually straightening as a consequence of the restoration work.  


Image (Wikipedia): 
lead weights were attached to the tower to straighten it during the 1990s.

The tower was not constructed to stand on its own.   It is in fact the bell tower - il campanile - of the Cathedral of Pisa.  The name of the cathedral is la Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta.  The tower stands next to the cathedral, a baptistry and a cemetery in an area called la Piazza del Duomo (the Cathedral Square).   The area is also called la Piazza dei Miracoli (the Square of Miracles).  It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

Below: an image of the bell tower and the cathedral.

Image by alexey turenkov

Below: an image of the baptistry and the cathedral.

Image by Ivana Tanaskovic

Inside the Cathedral of Pisa, you will find the relics of San Ranieri, the patron saint of Pisa.  In fact, one of the bells of the Leaning Tower is named after the saint and it is called - la campana di San Ranieri. 
Below, you can see an image of the bells at the top of the tower.

View of a bell situated on top of the le

There are seven bells and each one has a name and a particular sound: 
1.  Assunta   2.  Crocifisso   3.  San Ranieri   4.  Dal Pozzo   5.  Pasquereccia   6.  Terza   7.  Vespruccio.

An interesting factGalileo Galilei used the tower to conduct experiments on gravity.  He would throw down various objects and observe how they fell.

A fun fact:  a traditional way to take a photo of the Leaning Tower is to stand with your arm outstretched, so that you are appearing to prop it up!

Image by Mathias Bach Laursen
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