Pisa is the capital city of the Province of Pisa and is nested in the beautiful region of Tuscany. Once a Roman colony and then a Christian bishopric, it became a flourishing commercial center in the 11th century and a center of woolen manufacturing two centuries later.
While it is famous worldwide for its leaning tower, it also has many historic churches and medieval palaces, as well as a 14th-century university and a Square of Miracles. And scientist Galileo Galilei was born there.
The origins of the city's name remains a mystery until today. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "Pisa lay by the sea until the 15th century, by which time accumulated silt deposited by the Arno River had completely cut the city off from the receding shoreline."
For those who wonder why the tower is leaning, here is the answer.
The tower was built on soft ground -- a mixture of clay, fine sand and shells. When the third story was reached in 1178, the shifting soil caused destabilization of its three-meter-deep foundations.
After a 100-year break, construction resumed with four additional floors. Architect Giovanni di Simone had an idea: Make one side of those floors shorter than the rest. But it didn't work and made matters even worse.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa kept falling at a rate of one or two millimetres per year. Finally, in 1990, earth was siphoned from underneath the foundations, which helped decrease the lean. The tower was then anchored. Apparently, it is now stable and should remain so for the next two centuries.
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