The Tower of Pisa is a particularly complex symbol of Italy

The Tower of Pisa which is commonly known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a bell tower which is standing freely or the campanile of Pisa city in Italy. It is known globally due to its mysterious lean which is nearly four degrees, brought about by an unstable foundation. The tower of Pisa is the third oldest of all the structures existing in the cathedral square of the city, after the Pisa Cathedral and the Baptistry of Pisa. This paper gives a summary of details regarding the architect, construction history, earthquake survival, entry into Guinness world records and technical information of the Tower.

Architect

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The identity of the real architect of the leaning tower of Pisa has brought a big controversy up to date. Attributes have been to Guglielmo alongside Bonanno Pisano for designing the building for a long time, both of whom were the resident artists of Pisa in the 12th century. Some cast material was discovered underneath the Tower bearing Pisano’s name in 1820. However, it may have been related to the destruction of the cathedral’s façade in 1595, which had a bronze door (Clemente et al. 35). A latter study in early 2001 indicated Diotisalvi as the original architect of the tower owing to the affinity of time of its construction with other works of his, which were noted to be in Nicola bell tower and the baptistery all happening in the city of Pisa.

Construction history

The tower is believed to have started leaning during the construction period in the 12th century, as a result of soft ground that could barely support the weight of the structure. The leaning worsened at its completion in the 14th century and is said to have reached about 5.4 degrees by 1990. Remedial works were done in 1993 and in 2010 which reduced the lean-to about 4.0 degrees (The Leaning Tower of Pisa 14). The construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa took place in three phases over 199 years. The construction progress halted for almost a century from its beginning due to several factors, major being a weak foundation set in the unstable subsoil, which could barely support beyond two floors up (The Leaning Tower of Pisa 194). It was due to this that the construction started to sink in the year 1178 when it had progressed to the second floor.

Construction of the tower did not resume until 1233 when Benenato Bottici oversaw its continuation, a time during which there was a big battle between the Genoans and the Pisans. According to Caprili et al., the building appears curved because the engineers built the upper floors in such a way that one side was taller to compensate the tilt (06). The defeat of the Pisans by the Girona in 1284 led to another halt of construction. Completion of the seventh floor and the bell chamber (consisting of seven bells, each projecting a different musical note) occurred in 1319 and 1372 respectively. The holistic construction of the tower from the foundation to completion was an effort contribution to many engineers.

It is believed that Galileo Galilei, who was a Pisan resident between 1589 and 1592, dropped some cannonballs having different masses from the leaning tower of Pisa to demonstrating the independence of the speed of descent and mass.  (Aezarini et al. 2018) argue that the tower is suspected to have been used by the Germans as an observation tower during World War II. The beauty of the cathedral alongside its campanile is said to have impressed an army sergeant from the U.S who had been sent to spy on the German riffles in the tower thus restraining an artillery strike order to destroy it. 

After about a hundred years of effort to corrective reinforcement and stabilization, most of which are visible damages such as corrosion and blackening, the tower has been gradually restored and was declared to be stable for another 250 years at the least (Squeglia et al. 05). The damages are believed to be pronounced as a result of the age of the tower and its exposure to environmental conditions such as rain, wind, pressure, temperature among others.

Earthquake survival

Since 1280, four earthquakes of high magnitudes have hit the region but the Leaning Tower which was considered vulnerable survived their effect (The Leaning Tower of Pisa 67). The researchers discovered that the tower could withstand the earthquakes owing to the interaction of dynamic soil structure. They concluded that vibrational features of the building are influenced by the height, stiffness of the structure alongside the soft soil in the foundation. Because of this, the tower is not able to resonate with the ground motion of the earthquake (Caprili et al 11). It’s ironical that soft soil, instead of contributing much towards the vulnerability of the building to earthquake effects, helped its survival from the very effects.

Guinness book of world records

The leaning tower of Pisa was the first building to enter the Guinness book of the world’s records as the only existing tiled story building. However, some more other buildings have been established to be leaning even at higher angles towards the ground relative to the Tower of Pisa (Squeglia et al. 05). The leaning tower of Suurhusen and the bell tower in the Bad Frankenhausen of the 14th and 15th century respectively are German churches that have challenged the status of the tower of Pisa as the most tilted building. The capital gate structure in Abu Dhabi has pronounced the world’s furthest tilting man-made tower in 2010. It is 18.5 degrees slanted, about five times the slope of the tower of Pisa, but the tilt was deliberately engineered. According to Clemente et al. in recent years the leaning tower of Wanaka, a building in New Zealand, also deliberately structured to tilt was discovered to be the most slanted man-made building in the globe. It is 53.98 degrees tilted towards the ground (38).

Technical information

The fifth bell in the bell chamber, which indeed is older than the chamber itself has peculiar significance. According to Squeglia et al., it was only rung during Easter day hence its name Pasquareccia (10). It was brought from the Vergata tower where it was sounded to announce the execution of lawbreakers and traitors. It was called La Giustizia, meaning “justice”.

Conclusion

 Leaning Tower of Pisa, a medieval building situated in Pisa, Italy, is known for settling of its weak foundations, which was the cause of its prominent tilt of about 5.4 degrees towards the ground. The tower of Pisa started in 1173 as the third and last building of the cathedral complex of the city of Pisa. It was designed to tower 186 feet (56 meters) above the sea level and was modeled off the white marble. It is a historic monument of all ages and a real tourist attraction site in Italy. And above all the leaning tower of Pisa is a particularly complex symbol of Italy. 

Works Cited

 “The Leaning Tower of Pisa (engraving).” (2014). Print.

Caprili, Silvia, Federico Mangini, Sandro Paci, Walter Salvatore, Marco G. Bevilacqua, Ewa Karwacka, Nunziante Squeglia, Riccardo Barsotti, Stefano Bennati, Giuseppe Scarpelli, and Paolo Iannelli. “A Knowledge-Based Approach for the Structural Assessment of Cultural Heritage, a Case Study: La Sapienza Palace in Pisa.” Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering: Official Publication of the European Association for Earthquake Engineering. 15.11 (2017): 4851-4886. Print. Simón, Armando. “Will Evolutionary Psychology Become Extinct? Evolutionary Psychology As the Leaning Tower of Pisa.” Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. 28.7 (2018): 928-935. Print.

Clemente, Paolo, Fernando Saitta, Giacomo Buffarini, and Laura Platania. “Stability and Seismic Analyses of Leaning Towers: the Case of the Minaret in Jam.” The Structural Design of Tall and Special Buildings. 24.1 (2015): 40-58. Print.

Lazzarini, Marco, Simona Raneri, Stefano Pagnotta, Stefano Columbu, and Gianni Gallello. “Archaeometric Study of Mortars from Pisa’s Cathedral Square (Italy).” Measurement. 126 (2018): 322-331. Print.

Squeglia, Nunziante, and Giuseppe Bentivoglio. “Role of Monitoring in Historical Building Restoration: the Case of Leaning Tower of Pisa.” International Journal of Architectural Heritage. 9.1 (2015): 38-47. Print. 

Works Cited

 “The Leaning Tower of Pisa (engraving).” (2014). Print.

Caprili, Silvia, Federico Mangini, Sandro Paci, Walter Salvatore, Marco G. Bevilacqua, Ewa Karwacka, Nunziante Squeglia, Riccardo Barsotti, Stefano Bennati, Giuseppe Scarpelli, and Paolo Iannelli. “A Knowledge-Based Approach for the Structural Assessment of Cultural Heritage, a Case Study: La Sapienza Palace in Pisa.” Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering: Official Publication of the European Association for Earthquake Engineering. 15.11 (2017): 4851-4886. Print. Simón, Armando. “Will Evolutionary Psychology Become Extinct? Evolutionary Psychology As the Leaning Tower of Pisa.” Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. 28.7 (2018): 928-935. Print.

Clemente, Paolo, Fernando Saitta, Giacomo Buffarini, and Laura Platania. “Stability and Seismic Analyses of Leaning Towers: the Case of the Minaret in Jam.” The Structural Design of Tall and Special Buildings. 24.1 (2015): 40-58. Print.

aezaerini, Marco, Simona Raneri, Stefano Pagnotta, Stefano Columbu, and Gianni Gallello. “Archaeometric Study of Mortars from Pisa’s Cathedral Square Iitaly).” Measurement. 126 (2018): 322-331. Print.Squeglia, Nunziante, and Giuseppe Bentivoglio. “Role of Monitoring in Historical Building Restoration: the Case of Leaning Tower of Pisa.” International Journal of Architectural Heritage. 9.1 (2015): 38-47. Print.

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