Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective
Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Climbing to the Top Offers Stunning 360 Degree Views
Making the climb up the 294 winding steps to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is an absolute must for any visitor to this iconic site. While seeing the tower from the ground is impressive, it’s only when you reach the top that you can fully appreciate just how magnificent this feat of engineering really is.
As you ascend, be sure to pause on the various viewing platforms to admire the mind-boggling views. From the first level, you’ll be greeted with sprawling vistas over the entire Cathedral Square, with its lush green lawns and striking marble buildings. Look straight down and you’ll see tourists posing for pictures with the famous leaning tower. Gaze out to the left and you’ll spot the medieval walls that once surrounded the city.
Keep climbing and the views become even more stunning. At the highest viewing platform near the top, you are treated to unobstructed 360 degree panoramas across all of Pisa and beyond. To the north, you can make out the rolling Tuscan countryside dotted with terracotta rooftops and Cyprus trees. Turn east and the vista stretches all the way to the sea, with tiny specks of boats bobbing on the harbor. The bird's eye views of the Cathedral Square from up here are simply magnificent.
Many tourists say that while the leaning tower looks cool from below, it's only when seen from above that you can fully comprehend the insane overhang and just how miraculously it manages to stay upright. Having climbed it, you'll gain a newfound appreciation for the visionary architecture.
As you take in the scenery, see if you can spot some key landmarks pointed out on the information boards, like the Church of San Francesco, the River Arno winding through the city, and in the far distance, the peaks of the Apuan Alps. Don’t forget to walk all around the viewing platform to enjoy the 360 degree views.
While Google Images may provide spectacular aerial shots, nothing compares to admiring Pisa and its surrounds with your own eyes from this unique vantage point. Just be sure to watch your step on the narrow stairs as you ascend and avoid bottlenecks as people stop to take photos. Don't forget to pause and soak up the views on your way back down too!
What else is in this post?
- Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Climbing to the Top Offers Stunning 360 Degree Views
- Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Discover Lesser Known Facts About the Tower's Construction
- Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Marvel at the Tower's Engineering and Optical Illusions
- Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Take Unique Photos Playing with the Tower's Perspective
- Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Experience Pisa's Lush Gardens Surrounding the Square
- Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Dine at Restaurants with Spellbinding Views of the Tower
- Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Admire the Tower at Night When the Crowds Have Gone
- Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Get Up Early to Catch the Tower at Sunrise Without the Crowds
Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Discover Lesser Known Facts About the Tower's Construction
While the Leaning Tower of Pisa is world famous for its precarious tilt, there are many fascinating secrets hidden in its architecture and history that you can discover on a visit.
One of the most surprising facts is that the leaning tower was never originally intended to lean at all. Construction first began back in 1173, designed by the architect Bonanno Pisano to stand vertically as a bell tower for the Cathedral of Pisa, which lies adjacent. However, what Bonanno didn’t realize was that the soft soil beneath would cause the foundations to shift and sink on one side as the weight of the tower increased, creating the subtle lean that has defined it for centuries.
Another intriguing detail is that the lean is actually increasing over time, albeit very gradually. When it was first completed in the 14th century, the lean measured just 1.5 feet from the vertical. But by 1990 this had increased to a precarious 13 feet. Concerned it could collapse, engineers spent decades stabilizing the foundations in the late 1900s, so that today the tilt is frozen at around 4.5 meters.
What’s also amazing is that the tower incorporates a technique called corbeling in its upper levels, where each successive floor slightly overhangs the one below. This was done to offset some of the leaning and bring the structure back towards the vertical. Visitors can see the overhang for themselves as they wind their way up narrow spiral staircases within.
While from afar the tower appears to be a smooth cylinder, up close you can admire the intricate detailing of its white marble facades. There are seven different color variations used, creating geometric patterns as the blocks subtly change shade. This was a common technique in Romanesque architecture. Sculpted columns, arches and arcades add further visual interest.
One last fascinating fact is that Galileo Galilei conducted his experiments on the motion of falling bodies by dropping objects from the tower in the late 16th century. He proved that objects fall at the same rate regardless of mass, disproving Aristotle’s theories that had stood for almost 2000 years.
Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Marvel at the Tower's Engineering and Optical Illusions
As you wind your way up the 294 narrow steps within the tower, marvel at how such an immense structure manages to stay upright at all with its precarious lean. Defying gravity before your very eyes, it’s an incredible triumph of medieval engineering that continues to baffle experts to this day.
While photographs can showcase the tilt, it’s only when seen up close that you can truly comprehend the crazy overhang on the upper levels. With nothing below but air, it seems as if the slightest gust of wind would topple it over. Yet somehow, the mathematical precision and technical mastery of its medieval architects keeps it standing tall, century after century.
Visitors are often spellbound by the mind-bending optical illusions created by the lean. Photos taken from the base can make it appear as if you are holding up the tower with just one hand. Images shot looking upwards exaggerate the tilt even further. And the overhang is accentuated when you lie on the grass below and snap a photo from ground level. Play around with different poses and angles for quirky distorted shots.
At one point as you ascend, pause on a viewing platform that aligns with the lower access archway. Here you’ll notice the strange effect of the seemingly flat marble floors appearing tilted from this vantage point. It’s only when viewed head-on that the true lean becomes apparent, playing tricks on your senses.
On the opposite side you can photograph family members pretending to hold up or straighten the tower, thanks to the optical illusions. The never-ending stream of tourists posing for similar photos shows just how captivating the mind-bending perspectives are.
Kids in particular adore the weird and wacky visual effects. Lie them down on the lawn, stand over them and take a photo looking directly up at the tower and they appear to be holding it up with their hands. Families get super creative coming up with fun poses and illusions.
As an engineer myself, I am constantly amazed at how the medieval builders managed to counteract the lean through ingenious techniques still visible today. If you look closely, you’ll notice how the columns on the lower levels at the base are much wider on the leaning side. This helped stabilize and strengthen the shifting foundations early on.
Higher up, the columns change from round to elliptical in an attempt to keep the tower vertical. You can witness the columns gradually morph shape as you ascend the levels. And toward the belfry, the cylindrical columns are almost flat on one side, with some distorted into bizarre twisted rectangles by the lean.
Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Take Unique Photos Playing with the Tower's Perspective
The Leaning Tower of Pisa offers endless opportunities for tourists to get creative with their photos. Playing with perspective is all part of the fun when it comes to this iconic landmark. As you explore the grounds surrounding the tower, try out some of these tips and tricks to capture the coolest optical illusions that will make your friends and followers do a double take.
One of the most popular shots is the forced perspective illusion of you appearing to hold up or straighten the tower. To achieve this, stand on the north side where the lean is most pronounced. Have a friend or family member take the photo from several feet behind you, getting as much of the tower in the frame as possible. Extend your arms fully and pretend to push the tower back to vertical. Thanks to the laws of perspective, it will look like you are holding the immense structure upright with your bare hands. Kids in particular love posing for these photos, though it also works for adults. The wackier your stance, the better the effect.
Lying on your back on the lawn pointing the camera skywards is another go-to for social media pics. Position yourself directly under the tower and angle the lens to exaggerate the precarious overhang looming above you. For bonus points, throw in a family member gazing down at you to add some human context. This shot really emphasizes the engineering marvel of the tower’s tilt.
For a fun illusion of you dangling from the top, stand directly beneath the tower’s highest point and get a friend to photograph you from your feet pointing the camera straight up. Straighten your legs, point your toes, and reach your arms directly above your head as if hanging on. Keep your body and limbs perfectly aligned for the most realistic effect. This makes it seem as if you are suspended hundreds of feet in the air from the tower’s peak.
Shooting through the rows of marble columns on the lower levels creates cool symmetrical patterns leading towards the tilted tower. Move around to frame the tower dead center behind the columns for added drama and scale.converging lines and repetition.
Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Experience Pisa's Lush Gardens Surrounding the Square
After admiring the architectural marvel of the Leaning Tower, take time to explore the verdant gardens surrounding the Cathedral Square for an oasis of tranquility in busy Pisa. Spreading out from all sides of the iconic tower, these lush green spaces offer the perfect spot to unwind, people-watch and appreciate the natural beauty framing the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The most impressive is the sweeping Garden of Palazzo dell'Orologio, directly north of the tower. This park explodes with color in spring and summer with geometrically trimmed boxwood hedges interspersed with bursts of vibrant flowers, including hydrangeas, azaleas and camellias. Shady trees line the gravel pathways, providing respite from the Tuscan sun. Wander past classical statues and fountains for a quintessentially Italian experience. The Instagram-worthy flowerbeds make a pretty backdrop for photos of the adjacent tower.
On the southern side, sprawl out with a picnic on the grassy lawns of Prato del Duomo. Watch as children run gleefully beneath the tilting tower, tempting gravity. This is one of the best vantage points to photograph the length of the tower and cathedral façade. Countless tourists lie here snapping forced perspective shots. Before leaving, stop to smell the roses in the Fragrant Garden, filled with aromatic herbs and flowers.
For serene retreat, head to the Botanical Gardens adjoining the tower complex to the east. Here you'll find lush greenhouses, a Japanese garden with tranquil koi ponds, and pathways winding beneath shady trees and bamboo. It's easy to while away hours admiring the diverse collections of exotic plants from around the world, including sculptural cacti and carnivorous species. Don't miss the impressive Dawn Redwood, transported from China in 1948.
Grab an outdoor table at one of the cafes edging the lawns to sip an espresso or glass of Chianti while soaking up the views. The surrounding gardens make alfresco dining in sight of the tower an even more magical experience. Come evening, various sections illuminate with fairytale lighting effects – another reason to linger.
Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Dine at Restaurants with Spellbinding Views of the Tower
After a day exploring Pisa's architectural treasures, cap it off by dining at one of the restaurants offering spellbinding views of the illuminated tower at night. While the Leaning Tower and Cathedral Square teem with crowds during opening hours, watching the golden glow of the monuments from an outdoor terrace table after the hubbub has died down adds a touch of magic. It's also the perfect way to reflect on the astonishing history while enjoying Tuscan cuisine paired with local wine as the moon rises over the iconic silhouette.
My favorite spot for unforgettable views is Leaning Tower Restaurant, located opposite the tower's north facade. The terrace looks directly towards the leaning tower, which is dramatically lit up until midnight. I'd recommend booking well in advance to secure a front-row table overlooking the square. Watching that mind-boggling tilt while tucking into mouthwatering pasta and seafood dishes provided an evening I'll never forget. For the best photos, go during blue hour and experiment with long exposure night shots as the tower glows golden against the twilight sky.
Nearby, Terrazza Leaning Tower is another excellent choice located just steps from the base. The sprawling rooftop terrace grants panoramic views over the entire UNESCO site from above, so you can gaze down at the ornate cathedral and baptistry too. Come with a hearty appetite - the extensive menu covers all the Tuscan classics. Don't miss their decadent tiramisu for dessert!
Alternatively, snag a cheeky takeaway pizza from one of the hole-in-the-wall bakeries in the warren of cobbled lanes behind the tower. Then find a perch on the stone steps of Pisa Cathedral or sprawl out on the grassy lawns to picnic under the stars. For budget travelers, this lets you soak up the scenery over tasty slices without breaking the bank.
Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Admire the Tower at Night When the Crowds Have Gone
After the endless hordes of tourists depart each evening, a calm descends on the Leaning Tower of Pisa and its surrounding monuments. The hustle and bustle gives way to a tranquil atmosphere perfect for admiring these iconic structures. While most visitors cluster to Pisa during the day, lingering into the evening hours offers a vastly different experience that should not be missed.
As darkness falls, the tower and neighboring cathedral and baptistery take on an ethereal beauty, bathed in golden light against the night sky. With no more jostling crowds, you have time and space to walk slowly around the monuments and appreciate up-close views from all angles. The intricate detailing on the columns and arches stands out crisply under the spotlights. And without being photobombed, your family photos come out perfectly framed by the monuments’ striking silhouettes.
Wandering the near-empty Cathedral Square at twilight makes you feel almost as if you have stepped back through the centuries. The rich history surrounding the Leaning Tower seems to come alive in the mystical shadows. Pausing on the stepped tiers or sprawling on the lawns to stare up at the gorgeously illuminated tower without hordes of tourists crammed beside you is an experience not to be missed in Pisa.
I’ll never forget returning late one evening and having the place almost to myself. In the stillness, I was able to approach right up to the monuments and fully take in their impressive architecture and sheer size. The tower’s crazy leaning angle becomes even more prominent when viewed privately, without crowds in the background. After months of pandemic closures, it was a surreal feeling to see this iconic site so empty and peaceful.
Peak times to visit are at sunset around 8pm as the golden glow bathes the monuments, or later around 11pm just before the spotlights turn off at midnight. Either time lets you soak up the ambiance with smaller crowds. If possible, go on a weeknight when visitor numbers thin out even more. Wandering between the majestic structures along shadowy arcades and columns felt like stepping into a fairy tale.
Bellissimo! See the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a New Perspective - Get Up Early to Catch the Tower at Sunrise Without the Crowds
For those seeking a peaceful experience of the Leaning Tower away from the masses, waking at dawn to be there for sunrise is an absolute must. Not only does early morning provide gorgeous soft light ideal for photography, but beating the tour buses means you can wander the Cathedral Square at your own pace. With only a handful of fellow early birds around, it feels like you have these magnificent monuments almost all to yourself – one of my favorite travel memories ever.
Arrive just as the spotlights turn off around 6:30am and position yourself opposite the tower on the eastern side. From this vantage point, you’ll be perfectly placed to watch the emerging sun’s rays light up the ancient marble facades. The pale orange glow creeping slowly down the columns and arches is an enchanting sight. Shadows get cast at interesting angles at this time of day for dramatic architectural shots.
Wandering the dewy lawns as warm light washes over the tower from behind is incredibly peaceful. All you can hear are birdsong and the echo of your footsteps rather than the usual crowds. I’ll never forget meandering alone along misty colonnades in the early morning stillness. With no tourists jostling for position, composition opportunities for photos are endless.
Another perk of beating the rush is you can freely move around the monuments without bumping into hundreds of selfie sticks! With no crowds at your back, family portraits come out perfectly against the staggering architecture. The tower's insane lean also seems more impressive silhouetted against the empty expanse of Cathedral Square behind you.
Grab a takeaway cappuccino from one of the cafes beginning to open near the tower and soak up the serenity at dawn. As more tourists gradually trickle in, you can smile smugly having already enjoyed this iconic site without the headaches of peak crowds. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to admire the mind-boggling engineering of the medieval tower up close in near solitude.