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Leaning Tower of Pisa 'saved' for 300 years

By Malcolm Moore 29/05/2008

Leaning Tower of Pisa has been stabilisedEngineers are confident their efforts to rescue the Leaning Tower of Pisa have been successful and should last 'at least three centuries' "All of our best hopes have been confirmed. We can now say that the tower will not move again for at least three centuries," said Michele Jamiolkowski, a Turin-based engineer who led the project to stabilise the tower.

The tower currently leans 13 feet off centre, and has been straightened by 14.5 inches since 1999 thanks to a £20 million restoration project. As an added bonus, the authorities plan to reopen a "secret wonder" of the tower. Until 1935 it was possible, by entering a side door of the tower, to gaze upwards through its seven storeys to see the sky. "Since then, the view has been obstructed by an attic level where the instruments to measure the stability of the tower were kept," said Nunziate Squeglia, a professor of engineering at the University of Pisa. "But now it can be removed and the view will be back".

The tower, which has been leaning almost since building work first began in 1173, was closed to the public in 1990 because of safety fears. The 183-foot tower was nearly 15 feet off vertical and its structure was found to have been weakened by centuries of strain. The last attempt at straightening the tower was carried out under orders from Benito Mussolini, who wanted it to be perfectly vertical. Concrete was poured into the foundations, but the result was that the tower sank further into the soil.

The restoration of the tower has also included polishing its marble exterior, which had darkened over the years with pollution and grime. The second phase of the cleaning began on Tuesday and the tower will be shrouded temporarily with a moving scaffold.

The finishing ceremony for the completed straightening and restoration project will take place in three months time, according to Giuseppe Bentivoglio, the head of the council department responsible for the care of monuments in Pisa's Field of Miracles.

See also
Leaning Tower of Pisa is saved from collapse  

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