Probably one of the most important Leaning Tower of Pisa facts is the building is a huge tourist attraction or, as many would call it, a tourist trap. Why do visitors flock to the Leaning Tower of Pisa to brave aggressive trinket salesmen and huge crowds? It's all about the lean. Read on to get some cool Leaning Tower of Pisa facts:
- Why on earth does it lean like that? "On earth" are the key words here. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built upon layers of clay and sand. The earth under one side of the bell tower is softer than the other side. Therefore, the weight of the Leaning Tower of Pisa compressed the earth more greatly on the side that leans most. Another contributing factor is that the base was made only five feet deep, which isn't very deep for a tower of its size.
- How big is the Leaning Tower of Pisa? The leaning tower is much bigger than it looks depicted on your local pizza restaurant's paper placemats. The high side stands at a height of 186 feet. The top of the leaning side measures 183 feet, 3 inches. The walls range from about 13-feet thick at the bottom to about 8-feet thick at the top. The weight of the entire building is about 14,500 tons!
- When was the Leaning Tower of Pisa built? An unknown architect began building the bell tower to accompany the nearby church in 1173. Only one third of the tower was erected when they stopped building in 1178. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was already leaning a bit at this point. Only three layers had been finished. In 1272, they started building again, but stopped after completing the seventh tier in 1278. Finally, in 1298, they completed the tower, but were freaked out by the very noticeable lean.
- Has the Leaning Tower of Pisa been fixed so it won't sink any further? There have been multiple attempts to fix the tower. Today, it has been fixed by attaching tons of lead weights to the high side. That, in combination with excavating under the high side, has corrected the lean enough that engineers and architects think it will stay at the current tilt for a good 300 years. Of course, the Pisanos don't want to lose the tilt completely, because a straight Leaning Tower of Pisa won't rake in the tourist dough very well.
- Can I go up in the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Yes, you can go up in it. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was declared unsafe in 1990 and was closed to the public. However, in 2001, after all kinds of measures were taken to make it safe from tottering over completely, so the public can once again enter it. You may have to wait a few hours in line, though.