INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT TOWERS OF BOLOGNA
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.