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The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"Tourists won't be able to spot the difference"
 real 28k

Friday, 16 June, 2000, 02:40 GMT 03:40 UK
Leaning tower safe to climb
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The tower should be stable for another 300 years
By David Willey in Rome

Efforts to correct the tilt of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of Italy's most famous monuments, have been crowned with success.

The first visitors for 10 years are being invited to climb its 230 steps this weekend.

In the past four years, engineers have pushed back the tilt a remarkable 16cm.

The monument first began to lean over shortly after construction began 800 years ago.

Crane and the tower
A steel corset was placed around the tower

Medieval builders tried to correct the tilt, with the result that the upper part of the tower now leans at a different angle to the lower section.

Danger signals that the tower might collapse forced closure to visitors in 1990 after the rate of incline suddenly accelerated.

Over a million people used to climb the tower each year and the closure resulted in a big drop in tourism.

Architects and engineers from many countries were summoned to advise the Pisa authorities.

Anchored

They decided to place a steel corset around the centre of the tower and to anchor it to nearby buildings with steel cables to prevent it collapsing while restoration work went on.

Soil has been removed from under the foundations, while heavy concrete slabs are added above ground to stabilise the area and correct the tilt.

Journalists and local students are being invited to climb the tower this weekend to mark the final phase of the stabilisation project.

The tower will not be opened to the public again for another year.

But the restorers say the present angle of inclination is now safe, and the leaning tower should be stable for at least another 300 years.

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23 May 99 | Europe
Tower of Pisa leans less
12 Dec 98 | Europe
Leaning Tower to straighten up
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