Leaning Tower of Pisa (14th century)

Leaning Tower of Pisa (14th century)

The medieval bell tower of the Cathedral of Pisa is the most famous leaning tower of the world.

Visual Arts

Keywords

Pisa, leaning tower, tower, Galileo Galilei, cathedral, Pisano, church, architecture, World Heritage, experiment, building, Tuscany, Roman style, marble, Italy, bell tower, religious buildings, religion, 14th century, baptistry, dome, nave, apse, Middle Ages

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Questions

  • What happened to Galileo when his "Dialogue" was published?
  • According to which model is the Earth the center of the Universe?
  • According to which model is the Sun the center of the Universe?

Scenes

  • base diameter: 15.48 m (50.79 ft)
  • height: 55.86 m–56.70 m (183.3 ft–186 ft)

Baptistry

Narration

The most famous leaning tower in the world stands on the Piazza del Duomo in Pisa, Italy. This special structure is the third oldest building on the square. It was originally the freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral that stands next to it.

The cathedral is one of the architectural gems of Tuscany. Construction began in 1063 and it was one of the first buildings designed in the Romanesque style. The most spectacular structural element of the cathedral is the main entrance with a façade made of gray marble, and a gate made of bronze.

The Baptistry stands opposite the main entrance of the cathedral or Duomo. The construction of this round Romanesque building began in 1153. It has a circumference of 107.24 m (351.8 ft), and is thus the largest baptistry in Italy. The bronze sculpture of St. John the Baptist stands on top of its dome, facing the cathedral and the bell tower.

But the best known and most visited building of the square also known as Piazza del Miracoli is the Leaning Tower. Its construction began in 1173 and took place in three stages. After reaching the third floor, the weak subsoil and poor foundation led to the building sinking on its southeastern side. The work was interrupted several times, and the building was finally completed in 1372. During later centuries the tower suffered a great deal of damage. A large-scale restoration project was completed in 2001, in which the structure of the tower was strengthened and the surface restored.

The tower is 56.7 m (186 ft) tall on its northwestern side and it measures nearly 1 m (3.28 ft) less on the southeastern side. It leans nearly 4 degrees and the top of the tower is displaced horizontally by 4 m (13.1 ft). There are seven bells in the tower, tuned to musical scale, the smallest one weighing 300 kg (661 lb) and the largest one with a mass of 3,620 kg (7,981 lb).

Born in Pisa, the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei is said to have conducted one of his famous experiments in the Leaning Tower. The polymath, known mainly for his achievements in astronomy and physics, wanted to demonstrate that the speed of free falling objects is not dependent on their mass - not taking air resistance into consideration. As one of his students reported, the master had dropped two cannonballs of different weights from the tower and they landed in the same moment.

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