World’s Strangest

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Precariously Leaning Towers of the World

Link – article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams

The World’s Other Leaning Towers (apart from the one in Pisa)

Many people are familiar with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the most famous buildings in the world. Construction began on the Tower in 1173 and took place in three stages over 177 years but the structure had already begun to sink into the unstable soil by 1178. Before restoration work took place between 1990 and 2001, the tower leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees, but this has now been reduced to just under 4 degrees:

(image via)

However, there are many other leaning towers around the world, and we take a look at some of them here on Dark Roasted Blend.

Apart from the one in Pisa, Italy is home to a number of other leaning towers, many located in Venice. The tower at the Basilica San Petro di Castello, located on one of the many islands in the Venetian lagoon, dates from the late fifteenth century (left). Also in Venice, here’s the somewhat precarious-looking bell tower at the San Martino Church on the island of Burano (right):

(images via 1, Luigi Re)

This campanile itself dates from 1544 and is part of Venice’s 14th century Chiesa di Santo Stefano (below left). The one on the right belongs to the church of San Giorgio dei Greci, built in 1573, an Orthodox church and centre of Venice’s Greek community (right):

(images credit: Olafur Olafsson, Howard Somerville)

In medieval Bologna, the city’s leading families built many towers, of which only a few survive today. The two most famous ones are the Asinelli Tower and the Garisenda Tower, which both lean. Over thirty feet was removed from the top of the Garisenda Tower in the fourteenth century to prevent collapse, but it still leans three degrees:

(images via)

The Torre delle Milizie in Rome was completed around 1280. It used to have three stories, but an earthquake in 1348 caused the upper level to collapse. The main tower still stands, but leans precariously and is expected to continue to tilt even further in the future:

(images credit: Aldo Ferretto, Peter Bardwell, 3)

There are many legends attached to the Church of St. Mary and All Saints in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England, regarding why its spire is so twisted. It is said that when a virgin was married in the church, the spire twisted around to see if it was true. Another story states that a local blacksmith put the wrong shoes on the devil, who in his pain, leapt over the church spire, knocking it out of shape. The real reason is probably due to the shortage of skilled workers in the aftermath of the Black Death, which resulted in untreated wood being used to construct the spire. When fifty tons of lead shingles were attached, the weight caused the wood to buckle slowly in the following decades. The spire currently twists 45 degrees and leans 9 feet 6 inches from its true centre:

(images credit: Jill Coleman, Cherington)

The 92 ft tall Greyfriars Tower in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, England, is the only part of the Franciscan abbey still standing after it was demolished in 1538 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The tower was apparently left intact as it served as a landmark for sailors (left image below). In Wales, Caerphilly Castle is still one of the most formidable looking fortresses from the medieval era. Construction on the castle was begun in 1268 and one of the towers was damaged in the English Civil War in the 1640’s (right):

(images credit 1, John Richards)

Over in Ireland, Kilmacduagh Monastery’s Round Tower in County Galway was built in the 10th century and leans outward around 1.5 feet but is apparently in no danger of toppling (left). The highest point of Germany’s Suurhusen Church’s is reputed to be the most tilted tower in the world. The building is only 90 feet high, but leans at 5.1939 degrees. The church tower dates from 1450, but only began to lean in the 19th century, when the nearby marshes were drained:

(images credit: Peter Lynch, Sonth)

Also in Germany, the church of Our Dear Lady at the Mountain in Bad Frankenhausen was built in 1382. The spire currently leans at 4.8 degrees and is increasing by around 2.4 inches every year (left image below). The twelfth-century tower on the right, in St. Moritz, Switzerland, has a lean of 5.5 degrees. The tower was once part of the church of St. Mauritius, which was demolished in 1890:

(images credit: Pascal POGGI, ms.mac)

The leaning church tower of Walfridus in Bedum in the northern Netherlands now has a greater lean than the Tower of Pisa (left). Construction on this tower in Leeuwarden in Fryslan, Netherlands, began in 1529 and it was originally going to be higher. However, it began to lean as it grew taller and work was stopped (right):

(images via 1, 2)

The Oude Kerk or Old Church in Delft, also in the Nertherlands, is just over 245 feet high and leans about 6.5 feet away from vertical (left). On the right you see painting by Pieter de Hooch “Washerwoman and a child at a bleach-field near the Old Church in Delft – 1657-59″:

(images via 1, 2)

The Gateway to Europe towers in the Spanish capital are also referred to as the Leaning Towers of Madrid. They were built in 1996, deliberately made to lean 15 degrees (right):

(image credit: Javade)

This odd tower of leaning cubes is located on Barceloneta beach, in Barcelona, Spain (left). In Poland, the Tower of Torun had a similar experience to its counterpart in Pisa, leaning not long after it was first built as a result of the unstable ground beneath it (right):

(image credit: Rebecca Horn, 2)

Nevyansk Tower in the Russian city of Sverdlovsk was built in the early eighteenth century. The tower is 189 ft tall tower and leans around 7 ft away from vertical:

(image credit: Konstantin Grishin)

The 157 ft high, 8-sided Huqiu Tower, also known as the Yunyan Pagoda, was built in the tenth century in Suzhou, China. The building was stable until the seventeenth century, when it began to lean due it being built partly on soil and partly on rock. The top of the tower leans out by just over 7.5 feet (left image below):

(image credit: 1, 2)

The leaning tower in Huludao in northeast China (top right image above) dates from the time of the Liao Dynasty in the tenth and eleventh centuries. On the bottom right above, is the Leaning Tower of Shiraz at the Karimkhan Citadel in Shiraz, Iran.

In Myanmar, the Leaning Tower of Inwa is also known as the Watch Tower or Nan Myint. An earthquake in 1838 almost totally destroyed the structure, but the tower remains, looking ready to collapse at any time:

(images credit: Roger Price, Geoff deBurca)

In Teluk Intan in Malaysia, this leaning water tower was built in 1885 and began to lean four years later:

(image credit: Nick Hisham)

And finally, here’s the Leaning Tower of Wanaka in New Zealand, balancing at an angle of 53 degrees:

(image credit: Adrian Hey)

Here is a hand-drawn interesting take on “leaning towers” theme:

(image credit: Elton Huan)



Avi Abrams is the creator, writer, and owner of Dark Roasted Blend;
Simon Rose is the author of science fiction and fantasy novels for children, including The Alchemist’s Portrait, The Sorcerer’s Letterbox, The Clone Conspiracy, The Emerald Curse, The Heretic’s Tomb and The Doomsday Mask and The Time Camera.

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