The Leaning Tower of Pisa

 
Yeo Khee

The famously tilted tower has been straightening up lately.

A recent construction project reduced the angle by a full 4 centimeters. Might not sound like much, but when you’re talking about thousands of tons of marble, every millimeter is a major victory.  The tower is now leaning at the angle it held back in 1820, which is still slightly alarming, totally charming, and well worth a visit. The tower’s tilt actually began during construction back in the 12th century due to an inadequate foundation. Plenty of time to fix it, if you ask us, but we suppose that’s beside the point.  The tower’s height varies between 183.27 feet from the ground on the low side and 185.93 feet on the high side. 

Best things to see at The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Tower of Pisa 

Never originally destined to be be known for its lean, the Tower of Pisa is actually the bell tower of Duomo Square. Its seven bells (one for each musical note) were used for divine timekeeping, the largest of which weighs a whopping 3.5 tons. It’s gorgeous in its own right and its tilt just gives it that something extra, don’t you think? You can walk up the tower, but make sure to reserve your tickets early, because only a certain number of people can enter each day.

 

Opera del Duomo Museum

If you want to learn more about Pisa’s history (other than the locals inability to erect towers), Opera del Duomo is worth a visit. Translating to “Museum of Cathedral Works,” the museum displays—you guessed it— religious art and medieval sculptures of the centuries-old piazza. It’s been open since 1986, but the sculptures, liturgical objects, and cathedral fixtures date back centuries.

 

Camposanto

Built to be a “large and dignified, secluded and enclosed place” per order of Archbishop Federico Viscont, this cemetery dates way back to 1277 and was founded as a final resting place for all the graves scattered around the Cathedral. Be sure to check out the frescoes about Life and Death, the sepulchers of the members of the Medici family, and the Roman epigraphs and the sarcophagi engraved on the walls.

 
The Pisa Cathedral

Founded in 1064, the original cathedral and most of its works were destroyed by a devastating fire in 1595—all that survived are the 14th-century mosaics on the apsidal conch, including a painted figure of Saint John the Evangelist (circa 1302), the new pulpit (1302-1310), and the monument to Emperor Henry VII (1315). A vast and involved rebuilding plan was put in place, and the existing structure now exhibits an interesting and eclectic mishmash of Arab, Islamic, and Mediterranean cultures. Black and white stripes line the outside and inside of the cathedral, mimicking a candy cane. The perimeter of the inside of the church has large, detailed murals depicting stories of Jesus and friends, and the golden ceiling glimmers. The Cathedral is simply waiting for gravity (or God) to strike down the Tower so it can finally have the spotlight.

Best places to eat & drink near The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Fresh-caught seafood

Pisa is in close proximity to the sea, and we strongly recommend trying a bit of the seafood while you’re here. Head downtown (it’s easy to find—the city is pretty small) and belly up to a plate of octopus pasta, seafood soup, or a fresh filet of tuna.

 

Picnic with a view

Skip the touristy restaurants in the city center and make the most of the picturesque Italian scenery with a brown bag lunch in the grass. The Square of Miracles (where the Tower is located) has an expansive lawn, and the city has plenty of local delis and shops selling all the fixings you need for a true Italian-style picnic.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa directions and parking

The best way to get to the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in North Pisa near the Piazza dei Cavalieri. The Tower does not have onsite parking. However, there is a nearby parking lot on Via Andrea Pisano. The Tower is also accessible by bike. If you want to go by public transport, the  #4  and #21 Lam Rossa bus will take you to nearby Piazza Manin.

 

Best parking near the Leaning Tower of Pisa

There is a parking lot off Via Andrea Pisano for a fee.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa FAQs

Can I climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Yes, you can climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Each visitor who wishes to climb has 30 minutes to go up, take in the views, and come back down.

 

How many steps to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

There are 293 steps to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

 

How long should I plan to spend at the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Most visitors spend one to two hours at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

 

How far does the Leaning Tower of Pisa lean?

The Leaning Tower of Pisa leans at an angle of 13 feet.

 

Why did the Leaning Tower of Pisa start leaning?

The Tower started leaning because the foundation is built on a dense section of clay. It began shifting in 1178 before the first three tiers were even completed.