Monday, May 09, 2011
Leaning Tower of Pisa cleaned and stabilized
The 8-year restoration of the famed Leaning Tower of Pisa is finally complete. The medieval bell tower is now stabilized and clean for the first time in centuries. It needed a lot of work, thanks to tourists and their endless need to mark their presence, plus their pawing the walls to climb the wonky staircases, pollution, pigeon guano and corrosive sea salt. When the tower was built Pisa was on the coast. Then its port silted over and today the city is 7 miles from the sea, but salt is still blown by the wind and rain and the lean has made efficient drainage impossible.
Restorers cleaned every single stone in the structure with chisels, lasers and syringes. Yes, syringes. When you realize 10 people had 24,424 blocks of stone to clean with syringes, all of a sudden 8 years and 3 months doesn’t seem like all that long a time. The lean also made restoration extremely physically challenging since restorers had to work at an angle all day and sometimes at night too. They even invented a new kind of scaffolding to get it done.
The building’s circular structure and the unstable surrounding terrain meant traditional scaffolding for the restoration was not an option, so engineers designed a unique aluminium framework that compensated for the tower’s lean.
Above we see the Leaning Tower of Pisa in 1992 (left) and today.