Leaning Tower Of Pisa ‘Continuing To Straighten,’ Engineers Say

Tourists visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Cathedral in the 'Square of Miracle' August 24, 2002 in Pisa, Italy
Franco Origlia / Getty Images

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, a famous tilting landmark in Italy, is reportedly leaning a little bit less. Officials who are looking after the tower have noticed that the 186-foot monument straightened by an inch and a half over the last two decades, BBC News reported.

The reduced tilt is a result of work engineers did to prevent the tower from collapsing. The Tower of Pisa is now stable and has slowly continued to straighten ever since, according to Nunziante Squeglia, a professor of engineering at University of Pisa. Squeglia is also a consultant to the tower’s Surveillance Group, the committee that monitors the tower’s restoration work.

He also said that, although engineers knew the measures they took to protect the tower would have long-lasting consequences, no one ever guessed that the tower would straighten.

In 1990, the tower was closed to the public for the first time in 800 years out of fear that it would soon topple over. A committee led by Polish expert Professor Michele Jamiolkowski spent eight years stabilizing the Tower of Pisa, which leaned by four and a half meters (14 feet) at the time. Their work straightened the tilt by nearly a foot and a half, Fox News reported.

“What counts the most is the stability of the bell tower, which is better than expected,” Squeglia said.

The Tower of Pisa began leaning five years following its construction began in 1773. The clay and sand that served as the base for the tower was softer on south side than the north. As builders continued adding stories to the tower, the soil on the south side shifted, causing the tower to sink.

The Tower of Pisa was initially built as a bell tower for Pisa’s cathedral and baptistery, but quickly became a tourist attraction when it sank.

“Locals used to think of it as an architectural failure, then it was seen as a boon for the city,” Gianluca De Felice, general secretary of the Opera Primaziale Pisana, the nonprofit organization that looks over the monuments in Pisa’s square of miracles, told the New York Times.

In order to keep the tower preserved, the committee has cut down the number of visitors allowed to climb to the top. Only about 400,000 of the tower’s 3 million visitors each year are able to reserve a climbing tour.

The Tower of Pisa will continue to straighten over the years, but it will likely never completely reverse its tilt. If it ever does straighten entirely, it won’t be for about 4,000 years, Professor Squeglia said.