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Free History For Your Report
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The famous Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in Pisa, Italy. It was designed to be a free- standing bell tower, which was the third and final addition to a cathedral complex in the city, known as the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles). The tower was meant to be a vertical-standing bell tower; the famous lean of the building is an accident due to the construction process. It turns out that the foundation for the building was poorly-laid, and the soft soil prevented a vertical construction. Contrary to popular belief, the Tower did not begin leaning after construction was completed; it actually began to lean during construction.
The Tower was built in three phases. The first floor, built entirely of white marble, was constructed in 1173, during a time when the area was rich with money and the military was at peace. This first floor is one of the few structures from that time period that have not become severely damaged from weather and age. The original architect, a famous bronze-caster named Bonannno Pisano, had left the city after completion of the first floor, and returned from his time living in Siciliy so that he could die in Pisa, his hometown. In 1178, three more floors were added, and that is when the lean first became apparent. The soil on one side of the tower had sank three meters. Construction than stopped for almost 100 years, but not due to the building’s lean; Pisa had soon become engaged in war with such cities as Lucca and Florence, and all the city’s efforts had to be focused on winning the military campaign. This time period of no construction is actually what had saved the Tower; the soil was still settling, and any other construction during that time would have led to the building’s collapse. In 1272, architect Giovanni di Simone (already famous for building The Campostano, a walled-cemetery), took over the completion of the Tower, adding another four stories. These stories, however, were built at an angle to help the Tower from collapsing. The defeat of the Pisan Empire by Genoans, in 1284, stopped construction once again. Finally, in 1372, architect Tommaso di Andrea Pisano resumed the completion of the Tower, by successfully adding a Gothic bell tower that blended well with the Roman-style of the lower floors of the Tower. Seven bells were then added, the last of which was installed in 1655.
The Tower of Pisa has since been a site of historical significance throughout history. It is rumored that Galileo dropped cannonballs from the top of the Tower to demonstrate one of his theories; and then Benito Mussolini had ordered more concrete to be poured into the Tower’s foundations to make it vertical once again. Ultimately, Mussolini’s efforts worked against him, since his ill-advised attempt actually increased the lean, since the pressure on the unstable soil became greater. In World War II, the U.S. Government learned that the Nazis were using the Tower as an observation area, and the bombing of the Tower was almost ordered, but halted by a sergeant who argued it was unwise to destroy such a landmark.
In the 1960’s, the Italian government requested the help of international engineers and mathematicians in finding out how to stabilize the Tower, to keep it from toppling. However, the government wanted to keep the tower tilted, since the Leaning Tower of Pisa had become an important tourist landmark in the city, and supported the area’s economy. Two decades later, the Tower was closed to the public while stabilization efforts were made. In late 2001, the Tower was once again opened to the public. Today, it is designated as a World Historical Landmark, and is open to visitors, along with the nearby cathedral and cemetery.