The Leaning Tower of Pisa is well-known for its tilt, and while it's a beautiful structure, it's unlikely it would've received such world fame without the poor foundations that caused it to sink and tilt. However, it seems unlikely that the tower's tilt was as appreciated by the original builders and commissioners as it is by the modern folk, because they'd have no way to foresee its eventual fame as a landmark.

When did the characteristic lean become seen as an appealing feature of the tower, instead of just being a botched result of bad workmanship or architecture? Or has the tilt been always accepted as an "emergent feature"?

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    I tried running an nGram on it, and found the term was first found in 1813. However, I don't really trust nGram data prior to 1800.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


Actually, it began tilting immediately after they started building it. Some years after, construction stopped for about a century because the Republic of Pisa was busy fighting a bunch of wars with its neighbors. When construction resumed, the new architect took the tilt into account and compensated for it by making the walls on each new floor taller on one side. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:

In 1272, construction resumed under Giovanni di Simone, architect of the Camposanto. In an effort to compensate for the tilt, the engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other. Because of this, the tower is actually curved. Construction was halted again in 1284 when the Pisans were defeated by the Genoans in the Battle of Meloria.

Another interesting thing about the tower is that it combines to architectural periods: Romanesque and Gothic.

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    This doesn't answer my question.
    – kviiri
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 7:18
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    I think it answers your question. New architect took account of the tilt, means that they accept the tilt as a part of the tower's unique feature. Otherwise they would not continue building it. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 11:07
  • @AyaseEri Or maybe they could not afford at the time to tear thing down and redo the job properly, so they made do with what they had. Given that Pisa fell on hard times just then it is a real possibility. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 8:42
  • They could've just abandoned it. Yet they continue building it despite being in hard times. It suggests that they accept the tilt as a feature and heck, maybe they liked it, thinking that it is unique and would make a good landmark. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 8:53

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