Apart from its famous tilt that seems to defy the laws of gravity, the Leaning Tower of the Cathedral of Pisa is a very unusual building. The historical value of its design as well as its peculiar location within the vast and equally unique Piazza dei Miracoligive it a special place among Italy's many noteworthy sites.
The building is located at a distance from the Cathedral, between the apsidal area and the south-eastern section of the transept of the Cathedral. This is an unusual location. Normally, the tower would be erected near the facade or along one side of the church. In this case, however, the location of the tower has special significance because of its relationship to the other monuments of the Piazza dei Miracoli.
With its remarkable height and slim body, the Tower of Pisa was in fact perfectly visible from every part of the square and probably also from the river Arno. A veritable focal point, the Tower connected the city with the suburban location of the cathedral square. It stood as a beacon, a landmark, a lookout, and finally as an authoritative symbol of the civic and religious pride of the local community.
The current building is the result of time-consuming construction work. It was restored several times through the centuries, mostly to reduce the risk of collapse as a consequence of its remarkable inclination.
The edifice is composed of a cylindrical stone body surrounded by open galleries with arcades and pillars resting on a bottom shaft, with the belfry on top. The central body is composed of a hollow cylinder with an outer facing of white and gray San Giuliano limestone, an interior facing (also made of textured "verrucana" stone), and a ring-shaped stone area in between. This stone area accommodates a winding staircase with 293 steps leading up to the sixth open gallery. There, the inner shaft is closed by a vault with a central hole to let light in. From here, you can access the belfry, as well as the lower mezzanine floors and the open galleries.
The Tower of Pisa is divided into eight segments which are called “orders.” A circle of blind arcades placed on half columns enhances the lower order. A diamond-shaped compass inlaid with polychrome marble with a raised rosette in the middle is placed under the arcade. The openings of some narrow single-lancet windows interrupt the solid wall.
The only entrance door creates an opening to the west: a rectangular area framed by a lintel. Above the lintel, a crescent-shaped arch with an inlaid archivolt rests on two capitals as a continuation of the jambs, forming a shrine containing the bust of a 14th-century Virgin with Child. On either side of the door, friezes featuring animals, monstrous figures, and the unusual shapes of some ships (maybe representing the port of Pisa) frame the commemorative epigraph of the foundation of the building.
The problem of the inclination is one that has most fascinated and intrigued visitors, art lovers, and experts over the centuries. It is the feature that has made Tower of Pisa so famous all over the world. Adding to the appeal is the fact that the reasons for the inclination of the building are still fairly mysterious.
Experts have asked, whether the incline of the Tower of Pisa is an effect the builder deliberately wanted to achieve. Or, was it the consequence of an unpredictable and unavoidable, progressive subsidence of the ground?
Increasingly accurate measurements of the building and surveys of the subsurface have shed some light on the matter during the last century.
The Tower was presumably initially designed as a straight building. However, it began to sink right from the first stages of the building work. The subsidence was due to the special morphological features of the ground, which is composed of several layers of clay and silt, with groundwater levels running through it at about one meter in depth.
Based on the little information we have, we do know that the oscillation of the building was minimal over the centuries, as it seems to have settled. This fact is corroborated by the survey conducted in 1817 by two English experts, Cresy and Taylor.
A few years later, in 1838, some event must have occurred which abruptly accelerated the oscillatory motion of the building, necessitating major protective work. Based on historical and artistic considerations, it was decided to clear the bottom of the tower of the mantle of soil that had been hiding it for centuries. This involved the demolition of the buildings and constructions next to the Tower as well as draining the brackish water that surrounded the entrance of the building. This intervention caused the Pisa Tower to lose its balance.
The subsequent measurements showed that the inclination of the Tower of Pisa had increased by approximately 20 centimeters. In the 267 years between Giorgio Vasari’s surveys in 1550 and those of the two Englishmen in 1817, the inclination had increased by just five centimeters. The leaning movement kept accelerating for a few years after the work of 1838, then decreased again to about one millimeter a year.
During the 20th century, deeper understanding and better technical instruments, along with the support of governmental and safety authorities led to a proliferation of studies, surveys, and special projects.
The measurements of the Tower of Pisa
The monument is 58.36 meters high at the foundation and over 55 meters above ground. Its weight has been calculated at 14,453 tons. The center of gravity is 22.6 meters above the foundation plane. The outer diameter of the foundation measures 19.58 meters; the central hole is 4.5 meters wide. The area of the ring-shaped foundation covers therefore 285 square meters; the average pressure on the ground is 497 kPa. The current inclination is approximately 55°, i.e. approximately 10%. The eccentricity of the load on the foundation plane is 2.3 meters.
Book your tickets to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the most famous monuments and symbol of Italy all over the world. Construction on the Romanesque style tower dates back to 1174. The mysterious inclination and continuous movement of the terrain called for many alterations and repairs in the over 800 years since. Experience the thrill of climbing the 294 steps of the spiral staircase of the Leaning Tower, rising slowly above Pisa's vast Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracles Square). At Weekend in Italy you can secure your access to the famous Leaning Tower ahead of time - purchase your Leaning Tower of Pisa tickets here.
- January, February and March: from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
- From April to September: from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm
- October and from December 25 to January 6: from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
- November and December: from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm
- From June 17 to August 31: special night opening of the Tower until 10:00 pm.
- June 16: closing at 4:30 pm.
Last admission until 30 minutes before closing time.
The Cathedral opens at 10.00 am for visits.
The ticket to the tower is time-bound, please check confirmed time on your ticket.
For reasons of safety or public order, schedules are subject to change and some areas may be closed at any time without notice.
You will have to deposit any bag or luggage at the left-luggage office before starting the visit.
Before You Book
PLEASE NOTE: Immediately after submitting an order, you will receive two emails. The first email contains your order summary (this one you receive immediately after placing your order), the second email confirms your successful payment (one business day after placing the order). In order to receive these two emails, please make sure that you enter your email address correctly and check that antispam or antivirus filters do not block emails from our [email protected] address. Users of AOL, Comcast and Sbcglobal.net need to pay special attention to this, please. Vouchers will also be available, one business day after the request, at your dashboard.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The time you select on the order form is your preferred time. The closest available time, which can be anytime during opening hours on the selected date, will be automatically confirmed if your preferred time is no longer available.
IMPORTANT: ATTENTION! Access to the Pisa Tower WILL NOT BE ALLOWED to clients that show up without the TICKET sent by us issued directly by OPERA DELLA PRIMAZIALE PISANA.
The closest available time will be confirmed automatically.
The visit is confirmed 45 days before the date, so reservation guarantees the inclusion on the waiting list and delivery of the ticket as soon as we receive it from Pisa Tower management. Charge to credit card made on the business day following the request.
The visit to the Cathedral is free with the admission ticket. Any ticket purchased automatically includes your free ticket for the visit to the Cathedral at any time. A free ticket for a visit to ONLY the Cathedral within a reserved time slot is available exclusively at the ticket office on site.
The Cathedral is open for sightseeing and admission is included in the purchase of any ticket to another monument of Piazza dei Miracoli.
Reservations must be requested with a minimum advance of 1 day before the date of the visit.
It's possible to book maximum 10 people at the time.
For security reasons, access to the Tower is restricted to a limited number of people each time.
it's possible to change or cancel the reservation within 10 days from the day when the reservation is submitted. Changes will be accepted according to availability remained. Cancellation within this limit allows the refund of unused tickets minus service fee. Later cancellation requests are no shows are not accepted and not refundable.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR THE VISIT
Visits to the Tower are organized for groups with a guide who will provide visitors with all the necessary information for the itinerary to follow.
The visit lasts about 35 minutes - no extension is allowed.
We recommend visitors to be punctual as time schedules for the group is strict; no delays will be accepted with respect to the times shown on your entrance ticket.
Children and youth: For safety reasons, children under 8 years of age (completed or to be completed in the current year) are not allowed to enter. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. An ID that attests the age may be required.
As of September 14, 2015, security checks with metal detector are carried out at the entrance of the Leaning Tower on all visitors. Inspections are conducted jointly by security personnel of the Monument and employees of the Italian Police / Army. For this reason, we invite you to deposit all your metallic objects in the appropriate box in the wardrobe.
It is strictly forbidden to carry any bags and/or containers of any kind and shape during the visit and these objects must be left at the cloakroom near the meeting point. Cameras, movie-cameras and video-cameras are allowed
Please, help us to keep the tower's stones clean and free from graffiti or any other action that may damage its preservation, including chewing gums, any non-conformance will be reported and pursued by the competent authorities.
The staircase has 251 steps. No elevator.
Visiting the Tower requires a considerable amount of physical effort for visitors; please consider the spiral staircase has 251 steps. It's strongly recommended that people with heart disorders or individuals suffering from impaired health conditions do not visit the tower.
It is strictly forbidden to walk along the external passageways. Exit to the 7th and 8th levels (the Tower bells' cells) is allowed, but visitors must NOT under any circumstance let go of the protection railing; it is strictly forbidden to walk under the bells or hit them with any object.
Access to the bells' cell and the top of the tower is not easy as it includes narrows or exposed passageways. Individuals who easily feel dizzy are advised not to go to this floor. In any case, all visitors must walk very carefully and in an orderly manner when getting to these areas.
Warning: the surface of the steps is slippery.
How to get there
Restoration of the Sinopie Museum facade, Pisa
Effective Friday September 13, 2013 and until further notice the souvenir stalls will be removed from the Piazza del Duomo. The City Council will prepare a construction site plan that will close Via Duomo to pedestrian traffic for safety reasons.
Following this decision, the Opera della Primaziale Pisana has taken steps to organize the access of visitors to Piazza Duomo in the following way:
a) The arch of Piazza Manin will be opened, and elevated walkways will be placed across the lawns, given the impossibility of passing through Via Duomo. The walkways will connect to the paved path which leads to the cemetery (Camposanto).
b) The gate at the Tower of Santa Maria will be opened from 9:00am to 6:00pm, allowing access to a path along the walls and the cemetery (Camposanto). This route is recommended for the elderly, people with disabilities, and wheelchair users.
c) Via Maffi and Piazza Arcivescovado will be opened without any demarcation.
The Sinopie Museum will remain closed for that period, and tickets for the other monuments will be available at the central ticket office and the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.
For any problem or clarification, please contact the offices of the Opera della Primaziale Pisana.
1) From Station Pisa Central
N. 21 - night bus (opposite the main entrance of the station) stop in Cammeo street/Manin square
N. 4 ((opposite the main entrance of the station) stop in Episcopy square
SHUTTLE RED LAM (opposite the main entrance of the station) stop in Manin square
A taxi service is available opposite the main entrance of the station.
Out of the main entrance of the Station, head for Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, in front, and from there turn into Via Crispi, go straight ahead as far as Ponte Solferino. Cross the bridge, then go straight ahead, turn into Via Roma and go on until you reach Piazza dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower. Time: approximately 25 minutes
2) From Station Pisa San Rossore
Take the subway and get out through Piazza Fancelli. Walk straight on to Via Andrea Pisano. Turn left and go on straight ahead on until you reach Piazza dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower. Time: approximately 5 minutes
By plane (from Galileo Galilei International Airport)
N. 21 - by night (in front of the airport) stop in Cammeo street / Manin square
RED LAM (in front of the airport) stop in Manin square
A taxi service is available opposite the main entrance of the airport.
1) From the exit Pisa Nord
Through the highway Statale Aurelia to Pisa. At the junction for Parco di S. Rossore, turn left into Viale delle Cascine. Drive along via Contessa Matilde to Largo Cocco Griffi and the Cathedral Square (15-20 minutes)
2) From the exit of the expressway Fi-Pi-Li - Pisa Center
Exit "Aurelia", drive on along the highway Statale Aurelia to Pisa. After crossing the river Arno through the bridge on the Aurelia, turn into Lungarno Cosimo I° and then into via B. Pisano until you reach the Cathedral Square (15-20 minutes)
Tourists parking area : Via Pietrasantina, a five minutes' walk from the Cathedral Square
Audio Guide: Pisa Miracles Guide App
The Pisa Miracles Guide presents the monuments of Piazza del Duomo, also known as Piazza dei Miracoli.
The app offers the choice of two different kind of visits. A quicker one (approximate duration 1 hour) and a more thorough one which will lead you throughout the visit of every single monument and their specific artworks.
Each artwork (46 total) has a detailed description provided with pictures and an audio guide of the text displayed.
Pisa Miracles Guide is available in Italian and English and has several features such as automatic reading, visual recognition and AR (Augmented Reality). This feature especially will allow you to visualize the landscape from the top of the Leaning Tower directly through your device's camera, enriched with the most important spots of interest surrounding the city of Pisa.
A lot of interesting information is provided for free within the app such as those regarding the following monuments: The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, the monumental cemetery (Camposanto), the Sinopie Museum and the famous Tower of Pisa.
With an activation code, which is attached to the entrance ticket to the monuments, you can access the full guide, which includes the description of the works and the audio guide commentary.
Pisa Miracles Guide offers you a much more enjoyable and interesting visit!
HOW IT WORKS:
- Scan the QR code on the voucher to download the App on your smartphone or tablet
- Alternatively, access Google Play or Apple store and search "Pisa Miracles Guide" App
- Install the App and initialize it
- Allow the App to access the SD card
- Access the "Settings" from home to change the language, using the top left menu
- Access one of the available places or itineraries; at this point, your screen will provide instructions to activate the code
- Press the "Activate" button and scan the barcode on the voucher to access the content
- Click on the list of items and start your visit