Who Built the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
There’s a quick answer to this question. The designer responsible for the world’s most famous blunder was named Bonanno Pisano.
Pisano is blamed for building a foundation far too small for the ambitious bell tower project–a foundation of just three meters built into swampy soil is the cause of the trademark lean of this otherwise standard cathedral tower.
What Is the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is in fact a bell tower, built to adorn the Pisa Cathedral in Pisa, Italy. The tower began to lean noticeably in one direction in the year 1173 as it was being built.
Why build such an ostentatious bell tower in such a poor spot? The Tower was built to show off the incredible wealth of the people of Pisa who prospered because of their abilities as sailors. The people of Pisa were sailors by blood, people who had
The Building of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Builders realized that the tower was starting to lean when they had finished building just one and one half meters of the third floor. The damage was considered irreversible, and so much money already spent that the only answer was to halt all construction until 1272. War soon broke out against Florence, and all of the money that could have been spent to repair and finish the tower was spent on warfare.
The lean itself is caused by two things–a poor foundation and sandy and marshy soil that the tower was built on. During the tower’s construction from 1272 until 1275, the tower kept right on leaning. Believe it or not, war broke out again (again with Florence) in 1275–more delays to fight war.
Once that war settled down, construction on the belfry of the tower began in earnest. The belfry was designed and built by a different person, Tommaso, son of Andrea Pisano. Full construction of the tower was completed in 1350.
Interestingly enough, the Florentines got the last laugh. In 1392, facing financial ruin, the entire town of Pisa was sold to Florence as a last-ditch effort to save the town. The residents of Pisa were forced into slavery at the hands of the Florentines. Pisa would never again be a wealthy town.
Leaning Tower of Pisa Controversy
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Wrong. Bonnano Pisano is no longer considered the true builder of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Blame for the tower’s poor construction may in fact lay at the feet of another man.
For years, people believed Bonnano Pisano built the tower because his name was found in a plate at the foot of the structure, but this is now believed to be a coincidence.
An architect named Diotisalvi is now considered the original architect and designer due to the time of construction and the similarities between the tower and other works by Diotisalvi. The Leaning Tower of Pisa looks remarkably similar to the bell tower of San Nicola and the Baptistery, both of which are also located in Pisa.
We may never know who really built the Leaning Tower, but one thing is sure–it is a big tourist draw. Even though access to the top of the tower has been decreased due to construction and safety concerns, officials in Pisa say at least a million people every year come just to see and photograph the tower’s famous lean.