Muscat Daily - - BREAK -

In me­di­ae­val times, the city of Bologna in North­ern Italy must have looked not un­like what Man­hat­tan ap­pears to­day. Hun­dreds of high-ris­ing tow­ers stood against the sky over­look­ing a sea of red-tiled rooftops. These tow­ers were sta­tus sym­bols built by the city’s rich fam­i­lies to demon­strate their power and im­por­tance.

Be­tween the 12th and the 13th cen­tury, Bologna had as many as 180 tow­ers or pos­si­bly more. In the 13th cen­tury, many tow­ers were taken down or de­mol­ished, and others sim­ply col­lapsed. The sur­viv­ing ones were later utilised in dif­fer­ent ways, serv­ing as prison, city tower, shop or res­i­den­tial build­ing. The last de­mo­li­tions took place in the 1917 when two tow­ers were taken down for an am­bi­tious, but ret­ro­spec­tively un­for­tu­nate, re­struc­tur­ing plan for the city.

No more than 20 tow­ers re­main to­day in Bologna. The most fa­mous of them are the Asinelli and the Garisenda Tow­ers, whose iconic lean­ing form pro­vides a pop­u­lar sym­bol for the town.

Both tow­ers are named af­ter the fam­ily names of their re­spec­tive fam­i­lies. The Asinelli Tower is taller at 97m, but the shorter Garisenda Tower, which stands at 48m, has a more vis­i­ble lean, over­hang­ing by 3.2m. Both tow­ers were orig­i­nally of sim­i­lar height of about 60-70m, but when the Garisenda Tower started to lean its height was low­ered in the 14th cen­tury.

The Asinelli Tower had its height ex­tended. In the 14th cen­tury, the tower was taken over by the city who trans­formed into a prison and small strong­hold. Dur­ing this pe­riod, a wooden con­struc­tion was added around the tower at a height of 30m above ground, which was con­nected with an aerial foot­bridge to the Garisenda Tower.

To­day, it is pos­si­ble to walk up the wooden steps to the top of the tower for a fan­tas­tic overview of the city.

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