Historic Garisenda Tower in Bologna at high risk of collapse

  • 15.12.2023 17:08
  • Bruno Arcos

According to official reports, the medieval Garisenda Tower, arguably Bologna’s most iconic landmark, is facing an imminent threat of collapse. As a result, authorities are currently planning to take urgent measures to secure the site.

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Built between 1109 and 1119, the 47-meter Garisenda Tower has leaned at a four-degree angle for centuries, rivaling its more famous counterpart in Pisa. However, recent studies have raised alarms among local officials, showing concerning shifts in the direction of its tilt. In fact, and after special sensors detected those changes for the very first time back in October, the city council of Bologna immediately declared the situation “highly critical”, ordering the immediate closure of the historic tower.

Unfortunately, subsequent inspections have confirmed the worst-case-scenario, revealing deterioration in the tower’s base and further escalating fears of a potential collapse. To mitigate the risk, a 5-meter-high barrier encircling the tower has been erected to safeguard surrounding buildings and protect the safety of pedestrians passing-by in case the monument caves in. However, such efforts certainly don’t come cheap, with CNN reporting that Bologna authorities estimate the cost of the barrier alone to stand at approximately €4.3 million.

In response to the financial demands of the restoration project, Bologna authorities have launched a crowdfunding initiative, calling for both locals and global admirers of the city alike to contribute. Despite the hefty cost, representatives from the city council stated this represents the first phase of making the tower safe again, although acknowledging the extraordinary challenge that lies ahead. The barrier’s construction is scheduled to be completed early next year, with the tower and the piazza beneath it expected to remain closed for an extended period.

Due to its already noticeable lean, the Garisenda Tower – immortalized in Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” – underwent a reduction in height during the 14th century. Nevertheless, and along with its taller “sister” – the Asinelli Tower – these remain prominent symbols of Bologna.

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