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Bologna's Leaning Tower Faces Emergency Mission to Avoid Collapse

6 months ago
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The iconic 47-meter Garisenda Tower in Bologna, Italy, an architectural and historical landmark known for its precarious four-degree lean, is now facing its greatest threat of collapse in over seven centuries of existence. Recent monitoring by the city council has detected shifting movements in the tilt angle and direction that point to an "highly critical" situation requiring urgent action to prevent the tower from toppling over.

This latest red alert over the future of the Garisenda comes just over a year after temporary braces were added in 2020 to stabilize the medieval tower. The new data shows those efforts may have failed to stop the tower's lean from worsening in an unpredictable manner.

Built between 1109 and 1119, the tower has faced structural issues for most of its history, even requiring its height to be reduced in the 14th century to prevent collapse. Now, it seems time may finally be running out for the landmark immortalized in Dante's 14th century epic poem "Divine Comedy."

If the Garisenda goes down, Bologna loses more than an iconic attraction and unique addition to its skyline. The tower forms one half of the defining Two Towers imagery of the cityscape. Its taller sister tower, the 97-meter Asinelli, also leans slightly but has not faced the same long-term structural deficiencies.

Losing the dramatic sight of the two towers tilting in opposite directions would alter Bologna's identity as well as its tourism appeal. Beyond the visual impact, the Garisenda also represents deeply rooted history, having borne witness to several key eras in Bologna's past.

Preservation efforts in past decades have managed to prolong the Garisenda's survival through substantial investment and engineering interventions. But the latest evidence seems to point toward an expiration date rapidly approaching for the 790-year old tower.

With shifts detected in both the degree and direction of its lean, the Garisenda appears to be veering toward an uncontrollable demise. The question now confronting Bologna authorities is whether the Garisenda can yet again be pulled back from the brink through emergency stabilization efforts, or if the bell is finally tolling for the iconic old tilter.

The city council described the tower's structural prognosis as "highly critical," setting the stage for a dramatic race against time to prevent a historic loss.



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