Leaning Tower of Zaragoza

May 24, 2022 0 comments

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is undoubtedly the most famous of all towers that lean at alarming angles, but it is not the tallest. That credit belonged to the Leaning Tower of Zaragoza, sometimes called by its Spanish name, Torre Nueva, in Spain. Unfortunately, the tower no longer stands.

At 80 meters, Torre Nueva was the icon of Zaragoza. It was also the highest Mudéjar-style tower ever built.

Torre Nueva was built in 1504 during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs. It had four sections. The first section was a 16-pointed star. The rest were octagonal with angular buttresses, characteristic of these 16th century's towers and model and example for other towers, such as that of Colegiata de Santa Maria la Mayor, Calatayud. The building was decorated with geometric figures, ceramic, and openings with pointed arches. The triple spire top with slate roofs were added in 1749.

Shortly after being built, the tower began to lean, possibly due to haste while building the foundation and the first body. The southern part of the tower was forged faster than the northern part, which caused a difference in tension between both sides, which inclined the tower. It was attempted to remedy by reinforcing the foundation, but the inclination was maintained. Nevertheless, to the relief of the engineers the tower held and soon became the city’s symbol.

In 1892, Zaragoza's City Council decided to tear down the tower citing reasons that the tower could topple at any moment and thus be a hazard to people and buildings in the immediate vicinity. The decision was opposed by many intellectuals, but efforts to save it were in vain. The tower was dismantled the same year. The bricks of the tower were sold off and many citizens bought them as souvenirs. Others were used to build new houses.

Today, there is only a memorial at the place where the tower once stood. It consists of the perimeter of the tower outlined on the pavement, and a sculpture of a boy sitting on the paved plaza, looking up at the tower as if it still existed.

An early photograph of the leaning tower of Zaragoza.

A sketch of the Leaning Tower of Zaragoza by Gustave Doré.

The seated boy memorial at the tower’s location. Photo: Willtron/Wikimedia


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