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Leaning Tower (Torre Pendente)

Most people know Pisa's famous Leaning Tower. Fewer know that it's just one component in a lovely ensemble of medieval buildings; fewer still know that the rest of the city -- sadly -- is a largely modern place, the result of heavy bombing during Second World War.

Campo del Miracoli is a large grassy piazza that contains the Leaning Tower (Torre Pendente), the Cathedral (Duomo), the above Baptistry (Battistero), and the cemetary (Camposanto).

The Leaning Tower survived the bombs - a miraculous outcome, especially as other monuments within a few feet were destroyed. The tower began in 1173 AD as the cathedral's Campanile or bell tower, and started to lean almost immediately, the result of the weak, sandy, subsoil underpinning its foundations. Attempts to rectify the lean by architects over the next 180 years - the time it took to complete the tower - ended in failure. Galileo famously made use of the overhang when he dropped metal balls from the tower to show that falling bodies of different weights descend at the same rate. At its worst the lean was 17.5 feet from the vertical.

Last Revised October 5, 2007

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