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The BBC's Bill Hayton
"Pulling in the tourists for another three centuries"
 real 56k

Sunday, 17 June, 2001, 02:57 GMT 03:57 UK
Leaning Tower of Pisa nears reopening
Aerial view of tower
Restoration has cost the Italian taxpayer $25m
Engineers have toasted the completion of work to straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

But it will be November before the first visitors are allowed to climb the 293 steps to the top for a giddy peek at the city from the still-tilting eight-storey building.

Crane and the tower
A steel corset was placed around the tower
The angle of inclination of the white marbled leaning town, which began to tilt shortly after building began 800 years ago, has imperceptibly moved back about 40cm during delicate engineering works carried out during the past year.

The tower is built on sandy soil, and there is water not far below ground.

Engineers discovered that by gradually excavating earth from under the foundations, the tilt could be corrected without resorting to dismantling the famous landmark, which once seemed the only way to prevent it collapsing.

China replica plan

An international team of architects and engineers, led by a Polish expert, Michele Jamiolkowski, claimed that the tower is now good for at least another 300 years.

Restoration has cost the Italian taxpayer $25m.

Among the more curious solutions offered to save the tower was one plan to drill 10,000 holes to reduce the weight of the building, and a Chinese project to build a replica of the leaning tower next to it - leaning in the opposite direction in order to prop it up.

In the event, nothing so dramatic was necessary, just some engineering expertise and plenty of patience.

Pisa plans to celebrate the saving of the famous tower with a weekend of festivities.

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See also:

07 Sep 00 | Festival of science
Pisa tower moving to safety
17 Jun 00 | Europe
Visitors return to Pisa
16 Jun 00 | Europe
Saving the Leaning Tower
16 Jun 00 | Europe
Leaning tower safe to climb
23 May 99 | Europe
Tower of Pisa leans less
12 Dec 98 | Europe
Leaning Tower to straighten up
11 Dec 98 | Europe
Bid to save Leaning Tower of Pisa
13 Aug 98 | Europe
Eastern promise for leaning tower
14 Jun 01 | Europe
Pisa's steps to recovery
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