Leaning tower of Pisa loses crooked crown


GERMANY:Move over Pisa: according to the Guinness Book of World Records, another tower has stolen the crooked crown from Italy's famous leaning tower.

A 650-year-old church tower in northwest Germany is officially the most crooked structure in the world. Its steeple of 25.7m (84.32ft) tilts at an angle of 5.07 degrees, compared to the 3.97 degrees of the 56m (183.72ft) tower of Pisa.

"When you lay photos of the two next to each other, you can see it relatively clearly," said Olaf Kuchenbecker of Guinness Book of Records German edition.

Today he will travel to the village of Suurhusen in Germany's East Friesland region on the Dutch border to officially present the record certificate.

Compared to Pisa, the Suurhusen tower is a late leaner. Poor foundations under Pisa's tower, completed in the 14th century, meant it began sinking after the third floor was completed.

The tower in Suurhusen contains a stone bearing the date 1004 and was first mentioned in 1255. But it only began to lean a century ago when the groundwater in the region was reduced.

That allowed air into the foundations for the first time, rotting the oak treetrunks that supported the structure. Alarmed by the tilt, the parish abandoned the structure in the 1970s. But they had a change of heart and returned a decade later, adding reinforcements to support the tower.

Now 10,000 people a year visit the leaning tower of Suurhusen.

"In my homilies I point out that we humans are more interested in beauty than ugliness," Pastor Frank Wessels told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. "But our tower is popular and well-known because it's so crooked. God doesn't just like the mainstream: 'Man sees what is in front of his eyes. God sees with the heart.'"