A popular tourist attraction in the city of Pisa, Italy, it’s hard to resist capturing a photo of it without posing like you’re holding it up. But have you ever stopped to wonder, why on earth the Leaning Tower of Pisa Leans?
Construction of the tower began in 1173, and after builders finished the third story nearly eight years later, the lean began. The tower had been built on soft ground – composed mainly of fine sand, clay and shells, and started to settle unevenly.
A war that broke out between Pisa and another Italian city-state, Genoa, halted the construction for almost 100 years. A lucky break as far as building goes, this allowed time for the soil to settle and prevented the otherwise certain topple of the tower had the build continued.
As the 344 years it took to build the Leaning Tower of Pisa went on, it continued to lean at steeper angles. Since its completion, architects and engineers from across the world have continually monitored the lean and attempted to correct it.
Previously leaning at 5.5 degrees, in 2008 70 metric tones of soil was removed from under the tower, stabilising it enough that it finally stopped increasing its angle of lean.
Today the Leaning Tower of Pisa leans at a four-degree angle and predictions stand that it should be stable at least for the next 200 years. So don’t worry, you’ll still have plenty of time to take your typical-tourist picture.