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Nov '11

Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, which may be the world’s best-known lopsided structure, is an enduring attraction in the Northern Italian city of Pisa. The nearly 200-foot high tower has undergone years of stabilization work to ensure that visitors can continue to admire its classic architectural beauty.

Construction of the tower, which is the bell tower of Pisa’s cathedral, began in 1174 but wasn’t completed until almost 200 years later. An insufficient foundation, set in unstable subsoil, doomed the tower to lean from the start. However, construction stops and re-starts actually allowed the foundation to stabilize enough for the tower to be finished in 1372.

During the 1990s, a $30 million project stabilized the tower by slowly removing soil from one side of the foundation to reduce the tower’s degree of lean. The tower reopened to visitors in 2001. In 2008, more soil was removed from the foundation to further stabilize the tower. Today, visitors can once again climb the nearly 300 steps to the top of the leaning tower for a lovely view of the city.

Pisa has other interesting buildings to explore, including several other structures that share the “Field of Miracles” with the leaning tower. There’s the Romanesque cathedral; the Baptistery, decorated with scenes from the life of Christ; the Campsanto, full of funerary monuments for long-ago noble citizens of Pisa; and a museum filled with medieval paintings and sculptures. Pisa’s Piazza dei Cavalieri also has beautiful buildings and towers from the 16th century. If you have time, take a stroll through the city’s botanical garden, one of the oldest in Europe.

As in much of Italy, tourism in Pisa peaks in the summer months. If you can visit in the spring or fall, you’ll find pleasant weather and smaller crowds. To plan your trip, talk with your travel professional.


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