How climbing the leaning Tower of Pisa could affect your studies

Everybody poses for a photo ‘holding up’ the leaning Tower of Pisa, but would you climb it? The ‘lean’ factor looks quite concerning when you stand in front of the tower. ‘It probably won’t feel like much of an angle inside,’ I thought. I was wrong!

Construction of the Tower of Pisa started in the 1100s and was soon made difficult on reaching the second level, when the foundations began to sink. However, construction continued and the tower became a seven-storey tower leaning at an angle of 5.5 degrees. Reinforcement work in the early 1990s reduced the angle to 4 to 5 degrees, but the top level is still almost 4 metres to one side of centre. Climbing the tower is possible via a staircase that winds clockwise just inside the outer wall of the tower.

Tower of Pisa, Italy

Climbing the Tower of Pisa

A five degree angle might not sound like much but you certainly notice it as you climb and descend the very narrow, and quite dark, spiral staircase of the Tower of Pisa. The stone steps are worn smooth, as you would expect in such an old building. As you climb though you notice they are worn in a heavier dip on one side as gravity pushes you downwards. So, even if you thought you could resist those five degrees, resistance is futile! There are frequent windows along the staircase, which allow light in and also offer glimpses across the rooftops of Pisa and the crowds below.

When you reach the top of the tower the whole of Pisa lies at your feet and you can see for miles in every direction. There is also a thick glass pane across the roof of the tower so it is possible to peer down the hollow central space in the tower. If you don’t fancy that you can admire four of the seven massive bells hanging at the north, east, south and west points of the tower.

The tower is the freestanding bell tower of Pisa Cathedral next door so if you happen to be atop the tower when the bells ring prepare to be deafened! They are super loud and wherever you stand you’ll be within two or three metres of them at most!

View from the top of the Tower of Pisa, Italy

Descending the Tower of Pisa

While parts of the climb are a challenging combination of squeezing past other people, going uphill and gravity pushing you sideways, the descent offers a weird sensation of flying sideways – just mind you don’t hit your head on the low ceiling.

The legend

When visiting tourist sites with locals I always hope to learn something more than tourists are regularly presented with, and the Tower of Pisa didn’t disappoint. Pisa has a large student population and rumour has it that students that climb the tower will never complete their studies. As a result my local friend, and several of his friends, confessed they had never climbed the tower. Who knew?!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *