The Tower Restored

Pisa’s famous leaning tower was reopened in 2001, but now the historic turret has been deemed stable, and its gradual tilt seems to be semi-permanently arrested for the first time since its construction more than 800 years ago.

The Telegraph reports on the release of The Tower Restored, a 1000 page account of the saving of Pisa’s Tower, representing step-by-step the experiences of the entire committee that spent years working towards a solution that would allow the  preservation of the eight-century-old wonder:

On the night of September 7 1995, the tower lurched southwards by more than it had done in the entire previous year. Burland was summoned for an emergency committee meeting, and Ladbrokes were offering 11-4 odds the tower wouldn’t survive into the 21st century. ‘We really were within days of losing it,’ Burland says. The anchor plan was immediately abandoned and another 300 tons of lead ingots added.

The locals were up in arms, the Mayor of Pisa railing that a ‘plumber with a toilet-jack’ would have done a better job. Worse still, because they had to have their charter ratified every three months by the Italian parliament, Burland and co spent the end of 1995 and start of 1996, an election year, waiting for a new government to sanction them anew.

The lead eyesore remained, and several committee members’ cars were pelted with Tuscan tomatoes.

diagram of how they saved the tower
Professor John Burland was part of the committee charged with with solving the unique challenges of saving the Tower of Pisa for more than two decades before the historic reopening in 2001. Burland and the rest of his team managed to solve the complex challenges involved in saving the wonder, while preserving the historic, artistic, cultural, and architectural integrity of Pisa’s miraculous landmark leaning tower.

The committee stood down in 2001, but last year saw two intriguing postscripts to their work: first, the official announcement that the tower has been fully stabilised, its lean finally checked; and second, the publication of The Tower Restored, an intriguing 1,000-page account, co-authored by the whole committee, of every step they took to save the marble cylinder.

While apparently some of the locals have grumbled that arresting the ever-increasing lean that would lead to inevitable collapse somehow diminishes the very character of the very famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, the team that’s spent two decades racing to solve the terribly challenging engineering difficulties entwined within extremely important artistic and cultural considerations would clearly disagree.

Saving the grand old tower seems actually to affirm the aptness of the name of the Piazza dei Miracoli.