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3 Faulty Towers

February 6, 2015

The Tower of Pisa isn’t the only building in the world that’s having a hard time keeping everything straight.

Leaning TowersThe Leaning Tower of Suurhusen (Suurhusen, Germany)

When it comes to leaning buildings, this church tower in Germany wins: Its tilt is 1.22 degrees greater than the Tower of Pisa’s, making it “The World’s Most Unintentionally Leaning Tower.” It dates back to 1450. The cause of the tower’s lean? A foundation built on marshy soil. The tower was closed to the public in 1975 but was reopened about a decade later after extensive repair work.

The Oldehove (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)

In the early 1500s, the congregation of a small Dutch church decided that it needed a bell tower. They weren’t happy with just any tower though. They were eager to stick it to the members of the Martinikerk, a church in the nearby city of Groningen, which had a fancy-schmancy one. When work began on the Oldehove, the plan was to build an even taller tower with impressive Gothic features. Unfortunately, the ground under the church was unstable and construction had to be halted when the tower began to sag. The workers did their best to straighten it out, but they gave up in 1532. The partially completed Oldehove, which leans more than the Tower of Pisa in Italy, is remarkably still standing. Even more remarkable? The church it was built for was torn down in 1596.

The Leaning Tower of Toruń (Toruń, Poland)

This crazy tower was originally built in the late 13th century to help defend Toruń from invaders The builders chose a pretty bad spot for it, though. Due to loose ground below the tower, which mostly silt and sand, it started leaning. Nevertheless, it was used for defensive purposes into the 18th century and has since served as a jail for women, a blacksmith shop, and a gunsmith’s house. Over the years, two legends emerged to explain the tower’s dysfunction. The first one claims that a knight, sworn to chastity, fell for the daughter of a wealthy merchant. They began meeting in secret. When their affair was discovered, the knight was forced to build a leaning tower to represent his fall from grace. As such, those who have sinned supposedly have a hard time keeping their balance when they’re near the tower. The other legend claims that the tower fell in love with a nearby river. Unfortunately, their bizarre romance wasn’t meant to be. When the river came near the tower, its waters caused it to lean. (They presumably broke up shortly thereafter.)

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