Restoration of the Garisenda Tower: Italy's most leaning tower on its way to UNESCO listing

Much has been said in recent days about Bologna's Garisenda Tower, Italy's most leaning tower. "Is it collapsing?" many have wondered, but no, it is not. Let's take a look at the history of the Garisenda Tower, how it came into being, why it was cut in half and what is happening to it today. 

The Towers of Bologna: Garisenda and Asinelli, record-breaking towers

Bologna, known as the 'turreted city', had a very special skyline in the Middle Ages: up to 100 towers could be counted, of which 24 there still are today. The most famous are the Garisenda Tower and the Asinelli Tower, together called the Two Towers. Built between 1109 and 1119 by the Garisendi family and the Asinelli family, after whom they are respectively named, they served as a military function and represented the prestige of the families.

Photo by Bologna City Council

Today, in addition to being the symbol of the city, the Two Towers win two different podiums. The Asinelli Tower, with its 97.20 meters and 498 steps, is in fact the highest leaning medieval tower in the world. The Garisenda Tower certainly does not win in height but holds another record, which not everyone knows. At the beginning it measured about 60 meters but then it was "cut" at 48 (hence the name Torre Mozza) due to a structural failure of the ground. For the same reason, the tower's inclination reached 4 degrees, winning the record for the steepest leaning tower in Italy, surpassing the famous Tower of Pisa. Because of its impressive inclination, it was even mentioned by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy, in which he compared it to the giant Antaeus, son of Poseidon, who, in order to help Dante and Virgil on their journey, bent down towards them, allowing the two of them to climb up onto his body and proceed smoothly towards the icy Cocito.

Garisenda Tower: what happens today

With the passage of time, the need to preserve this monument has become increasingly pressing. Its inclination, together with its venerable age, made it necessary to constantly monitor the tower and ensure its stability and safety. Thanks to this attention, experts have recently detected an unexpected rotational movement and unusual oscillations, and have come to the decision to close the square in which it is located and the tourist entrances to the Asinelli Tower in order to secure the monument and carry out a major restoration project.

Asinelli Tower is closed: what to do instead of climbing the tower and where to see the view of the city from?

Despite the temporary closure of the Two Towers, visitors of the city and history enthusiasts will have the opportunity to explore fascinating alternatives. Among the many panoramic views offered by the center of Bologna, the one from the Torre dell'Orologio leaves even the locals stunned. From here, it is in fact possible to enjoy a 360° view of the city, observing how the Two Towers stand out among the red tiles (something that would not be possible to see from the Asinelli Tower).


The Two Towers UNESCO World Heritage Site: Mayor Lepore's request

Following the recent events, another important change is taking place. A significant effort is underway to include the Two Towers, Garisenda and Asinelli, in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site. This recognition would be an important step to further protect and promote the historical and cultural value of these wonders, ensuring that future generations can continue to admire and appreciate them. The Garisenda Tower is much more than a tourist attraction or an architectural blunder: it is a tangible symbol of Bologna's history and of the importance of preserving our cultural heritage. Its temporary closure is a sign of care, and the ongoing efforts to obtain UNESCO recognition offer the prospect of an even brighter future for this extraordinary monument.

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