Leaning Tower of Pisa leaning less than before, experts say

The tower has leaned to one side ever since it began to take shape in 1173

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is now stable and has even straightened slightly thanks to engineering work to save the world-renowned tourist attraction. File photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is now stable and has even straightened slightly thanks to engineering work to save the world-renowned tourist attraction. File photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

 

Stabilisation work means the Leaning Tower of Pisa is leaning slightly less than it used to, experts have said.

The tower, which has leaned to one side ever since it began to take shape in 1173, has lost 4 cm of its tilt over the past two decades, according to a report from the surveillance group that meets every three months to give updates on the monument’s condition.

“Since restorative work began, the tower is leaning about half a degree less,” said Nunziante Squeglia, a geotechnics professor at the University of Pisa who works with the group. “But what counts is the stability of the tower, which is better than initially predicted.”

The structure, which was badly damaged during the second World War, was closed to the public in 1990 over safety fears and did not reopen for 11 years.

The surveillance group was set up in 2001 ago after Michele Jamiolkowski, an engineer of Polish origin, co-ordinated an international committee to save the landmark.

The bell tower, a symbol of the power of the maritime republic of Pisa in the Middle Ages, was defective from the beginning due to the porous clay soil beneath its foundations. After three floors were completed, construction stopped and did not resume until 90 years later when workers started building additional floors on a diagonal to offset the lean. But work was again disrupted before finally being completed in 1372.

The tower, located behind Pisa’s cathedral, attracts more than 5 million visitors a year. Reaching the top requires climbing 269 steps.

The surveillance group’s work, which is funded by the non-profit Opera della Primaziale Pisana, includes improving the quality of the structure’s conservation and promoting research. – Guardian