Engineers proudly reported last week that a long effort to stabilize the Leaning Tower of Pisa has been successfully completed. The leader of the project has said that “the tower can rest easy for at least 300 years” at its current slant, which is just under 4 meters off true.
Pisa‘s tower leaned before it was even completed in the 14th century due to the unstable ground it was built on, but it has been a popular tourist attraction for centuries. Still, it was closed to visitors in 1990 because authorities feared it would topple completely. It was in 1990, then, that a careful engineering project began to reduce the lean of the tower – just enough to make it stable, not to straighten it completely (because, let’s face it, would you go out of your way to see The Perfectly Straight Tower of Pisa?).
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The project was finished in late 2001, but it’s only now, after several years of monitoring the tower’s lean, that the engineers felt comfortable saying it was officially stable. The leaning tower’s current tilt is around what it was in the 18th-19th centuries, and, as an added bonus to the tower’s stability, several tracking instruments have been removed from one side of the tower’s interior, which will allow a side door in the tower to be opened that has been closed since the 1930s. While this door may not serve as an additional entrance to climb the leaning tower, it will provide a special treat – people will be able to go through this side door and look up through all eight storeys of the tower, which hasn’t been possible for decades.
Photo by: Pedro Lastra