Bologna, renowned for its medieval charm, has recently faced a critical situation as the Garisenda Tower, a leaning medieval structure comparable to Pisa’s famous tower, has been sealed off due to fears of potential collapse. Standing at 47 meters and tilting at a four-degree angle, the tower has become the focal point of preservation efforts, drawing attention to the challenges of maintaining historical landmarks.
Historical Significance: The Garisenda Tower, built between 1109 and 1119, is one of two iconic towers dominating Bologna’s skyline, the other being the Asinelli Tower. The Garisenda, however, is distinguished by its dramatic tilt, a characteristic that has only intensified over the centuries. Both towers are immortalized in Dante’s Divine Comedy, cementing their significance in literature and cultural history.
Structural Challenges and Previous Modifications: Despite the towers’ resilience through the centuries, the Garisenda Tower faced modifications in the 14th century due to its leaning trajectory. The current concerns stem from recent monitoring, indicating shifts in the tilt direction. This prompted the city council to declare the situation “highly critical” and seal off the tower in October.
Preservation Efforts and Civil Protection Plan: To address the immediate risks, the city council has initiated a civil protection plan for the Garisenda Tower. The plan involves the construction of barriers around the tower to contain potential debris and protect surrounding structures and people in case of a collapse. Metal rockfall nets will also be installed as part of the safety measures. This represents the initial phase of a comprehensive effort to make the tower safe for future generations.
Closure and Restoration Timeline: The closure of the site is a preventative measure to ensure public safety during restoration efforts. The restoration is expected to take several years, with the completion of the barrier construction slated for early next year. The city council estimates the barrier project alone will cost €4.3 million (£3.7 million) and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to gather support for the overall restoration.
Crowdfunding for Restoration: Bologna recognizes the magnitude of the challenge ahead and has reached out to both locals and global admirers of the city to contribute to the restoration project. Describing it as an “extraordinary challenge,” the city emphasizes the need for collective commitment to preserve one of its most significant symbols.
Conclusion: The precarious state of the Garisenda Tower serves as a poignant reminder of the delicate balance between preserving historical landmarks and the challenges of time. Bologna’s proactive measures, from sealing off the tower to launching a crowdfunding campaign, underscore the city’s commitment to safeguarding its cultural heritage. As the restoration journey unfolds, it symbolizes not just the preservation of a medieval structure but a collective effort to protect the essence of Bologna and its enduring legacy.