• Fri
  • Nov 28, 2014
  • Updated: 9:56am

Saving a Pisa history

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2003, 12:00am

You're walking along the main street in a town that you have not visited before. Suddenly you stop dead in your tracks: there's a building up ahead you that you cannot believe exists.


It looks impossible, but you rub your eyes to make sure you're not dreaming.


The building is leaning at a very dangerous angle. Buildings do not lean! They stand up straight otherwise they would fall over.


But then you remember where you are. You are in the Italian town of Pisa and you are looking at its famous leaning tower.


Nobody knows how long The Leaning Tower of Pisa will continue to lean before it collapses. Architects and engineers are always coming up with schemes to stop the tower falling over, but no one has yet found an answer to the problem.


The tower stands 54 metres high and now leans 4.5 metres out of true. It was begun in 1173 and finished almost two hundred years later in 1350. It was built to house the bell that rings to call the citizens of Pisa to worship in the cathedral next door.


The first thing an architect does when he plans a new building is to check the foundations where the building is going to stand. The architects of Pisa's bell tower were not very good at their job and didn't realise that the ground under their new building was not very firm. The tower began to sink and tilt after the first three storeys had been built and the builders did not know what to do.


Nobody wanted to pull the tower down and rebuild it somewhere else so they continued to add on the remaining storeys and wait to see what would happen.


Since the completion of the tower, experts have tried and failed to straighten the famous tilt. During the past few years, the tower has started to move again and it is now leaning one millimetre further every 12 months. This might not seem much, but it is making a lot of people worry about the future of Pisa's famous tower.


Exercise


A. Are these statements about the leaning tower of Pisa true or false?


1. Pisa is a town in the north of France.


2. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is built on a concrete base.


3. The tower took almost two centuries to build.


4. It leans because of the wind.


5. It is built of steel.


6. The tower leans 4.5 metres.


7. The tower has a clock on the top.


8. It is 54 metres high.


9. It stands next to a cathedral.


10. The tilt of the tower is currently stable.


B. Can you come up with any ideas to save the leaning tower of Pisa from collapsing?


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