Less leaning tower of Pisa reopens
PISA, Italy -- The leaning tower of Pisa has opened its doors to tourists for the first time in 12 years after work to reduce its tilt.
Engineers were called in to help salvage one of Italy's most famous monuments in 1990 after the tower began to lean too far.
But instead of visitor numbers of up to one million a day tourists will now be strictly limited to parties of 30 being allowed to climb the tower's 293 steps for 40 minute long guided tours.
Pisa's Mayor Paolo Fontanelli said: "This is an extraordinary moment for Pisa and Italy and all of humanity. A monument that is known around the world is finally open again for everyone to see."
The work has cost $25 million and has involved the tower being propped back up.
Its tilt, 4.5 metres (14 ft 9.1 in) from the vertical in 1990, has been reduced by 40.6 centimetres (15.98 inches).
"Pisa isn't just a site, this is Italy's visiting card," Giovanni Puglisi, the secretary general of UNESCO in Italy, told Reuters.
"It is one of those great works that is unique in the world and will now be open again to the public." The tower, which owes its fame and popularity to its tilt, began to lean shortly after construction began in 1173 on sandy, shifting soil.
It has keeled over a little more each year until 1990, and its stabilisation has proved to be a challenge for civil engineers.
Experts decided to "straighten" the tower by digging out soil from underneath the higher end of the tower.
The 14,000-tonne structure was secured by steel cables during the excavation and cement was injected in the walls to strengthen it.
The tower now overhangs by four metres instead of four-and-a-half metres. The engineers predict it should stand for another 400 years.
Galileo, Pisa's most famous native son, turned the tower's architectural flaws to his advantage, using the overhang to observe the force of gravity as objects were dropped.
The tower is part of the Campo dei Miracoli, a medieval masterpiece in white and black marble which includes the Duomo, baptistery and Camposanto cemetery built when Pisa was one of the maritime powers of the Mediterranean.
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Leaning Tower of Pisa
Italian Tourism Ministry
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