Leaning or inclined buildings are highly intriguing, to say the least. Due to wear and tear or just as a design choice, leaning buildings give off the impression that they might fall down any second. However, these oldest leaning towers have been standing for centuries without falling or crashing. Hopefully, they continue to do so in centuries to come.
Tiger Hill Pagoda / China
Tiger Hill Pagoda also has other names such as Huqiu or Yunyan Pagoda. However, its nickname is probably the one that does it more justice: The Leaning Tower of China. Built in the 10th century, surviving invasions, wars, and disasters, Tiger Hill Pagoda is one of the oldest leaning towers. It is also 47 meters tall.
Its shape is not a design choice by its architect, of course. Although it has been renovated many times, the tower’s age shows itself nonetheless. During its more than a thousand years old lifespan, the tower tilted to the right by more than 2 meters. The tower consists of supporting columns and octagons and the slanting resulted from two of those columns breaking.
Two Towers of Bologna / Italy
When the words Italy and tower come together, one almost always thinks of Pisa Tower. However, in the country, there is another leaning tower much older than Pisa. These are the Towers of Bologna. They were built in 1119 together in 10 years. Some sources state that the towers were the result of a competition between two great families of Bologna.
The taller tower is the Asinelli Tower and 97 meters tall, while the smaller one is the Garisenda Tower and 48 meters tall. The reason why these towers lean to the side lies once again in their history. While Asinelli leans a little due to age, Garisenda leans because of a redesign. Garisenda was actually 60 meters tall but the townspeople decreased its height to 48. While doing so, they tilted the tower and it has remained like that ever since.
Tower of Pisa / Italy
Arguably the most famous one among the oldest leaning towers, the Tower of Pisa is a stunning piece of architecture. It is 55 meters tall and has been an icon of Italy since the 12th century. However, its construction took nearly 200 years. Its first foundation was laid in 1173 but it sank in the following years which made it necessary to examine it closely.
Although they waited for its soil to rest and become more stable, the soil did not just comply with the expectations. In order to finish the tower, second and third floors were added. Each floor caused the tower to lean further. While trying to straighten the building, one of the designers added weight to another side, which caused even more leaning, making the tower what it is today.
Oberkirche Church Tower / Germany
Located in a rather small town in Germany, Oberkirche Church is its most famous attraction. The church shows traces of Gothic and Baroque architecture which makes it harder to pinpoint its construction date. After all, what makes the church tower interesting is not really its age but its shape. Oberkirche’s tower is heavily leaning, even more so than Pisa Tower.
The reason why the tower leans so heavily is because of the town’s water source. The water has a huge amount of salt in it and when it dissolves into the soil, it causes various movements. Moreover, this was not a recent event, but a continuing one. The note of the first slanting of the tower can be seen in sources from the 17th century, meaning that the tower has been leaning for nearly 400 years.