Pisa is quite a small city, and its attractions are all in the city centre. The Piazza del Duomo, to the north of the centre, has one of the most attractive architectural groupings in Italy; the Church, Baptistery and the famous leaning tower, now stabilized and reopened to the public. The tower is renowned for its marked tilt. This spectacular irregularity has tended to obscure the fact that it is also a magnificent example of Romanesque architecture and decoration.
The leaning tower of Pisa is the bell tower of the Cathedral, the construction of which began in the august of 1173 and continued (with two long interruptions) for about two hundred years. Such a long period of delays was caused because of the tower's persistent structural problems. By the time the first three stories were completed, one side of the tower had already begun to sink into the soft soil, and construction was halted for nearly 100 years. They said that the leaning tower of Pisa was projected so ever since its beginning to serve special architectural composition of the city centre. But now we know that it is not so.
The erection of the leaning tower of Pisa was kept in full fidelity to the original project, whose architect is still uncertain. In fact, the "leaning tower" part of myth began almost immediately, because the tower of Pisa was designed to be "vertical" and started to incline during its construction. But even if it did not lean the tower would still be one of the most remarkable bell towers in Europe - due to its size and the tonnage of the bell, hanging there. Although the tower's ancient bells remain in place, they are no longer rung. The interior of the tower is occupied by a 294-step spiral staircase that leads to the bell chamber.
Both because of its inclination, and its beauty, from 1173 up to the present the leaning tower of Pisa has been the object of very special attention.
During its construction efforts were made to halt the incipient inclination through the use of special construction devices; later columns and other damaged parts were substituted in more than one occasion; the first attempts to counter the lean of the structure were made in 1275, when construction resumed. Today, interventions are being carried out within the sub-soil in order to significantly reduce the inclination and to make sure that Tower will have a long life.
In general, it is possible to find a meaningful constant, the "genetic code" of the Tower: its continual interaction with the soil on which it was built.
Today's works for the safeguard and the conservation of the leaning tower of Pisa with very advanced methodologies are designed to fully respect this constant. The structure has been closed to the public since 1990 due to safety and conservation concerns.
The leaning tower of Pisa has made the city one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, but many of the tourists stay for the day and in the evening it reverts to being a pleasant Lungarni town.