Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Leaning Tower of Greci

Pisa is not the only place with a leaning tower.
In Castello, not far from Piazza San Marco, you'll find the church of San Giorgio dei Greci - a Greek Orthodox church with a rich history. She stands as evidence of a once thriving Greek population within La Serenissima. One census taken in the 15th century indicates that there were about four thousand Greeks living in Venice. And while the Greek contingent in Venezia may have dwindled over the last few centuries, the church and her campanile still stand as a constant reminder of one part of Venice's diverse past.

The most noticeable thing about San Giorgio dei Greci is her campanile, which leans to the west, almost as if bowing to Piazza San Marco's much taller tower.

Many belltowers lean, in fact I once heard someone claim that Venice had more leaning towers than perfectly vertical ones.
Some have a more obvious tilt than others.

I've also heard that many of the belltowers of Venice have already come down. The ones left are the survivors. By some exaggerative estimations, Venice used to be crowded with campanile, bristling with belfrys.

This one also appears to have a more extreme lean because it hangs out over a canal (the Rio die Greci) and is easily seen from the Bacino San Marco and anyone walking along the fondamente Riva degli Schiavoni.

The tower was built in the late 1500's. It lists to one side due to uneven subsidence beneath.

The next time you're on a Vaporetto east of the piazza, find the Rio dei Greci and see if you can spot a "campanile with a cant".


René Seindal said...

There are at least three very leaning towers in Venice: San Giorgio dei Greci, San Pietro in Castello and Santo Stefano.

At S.Stefano you can take a small boat directly under the tower and look up at the tower leaning over you.

Several other towers have slight leans, like S.Barnaba and Chiesa dei Carmini, both visible coming into Rio S.Barnaba from the Canale Grande. They're leaning away from each other seen from that angle.

The tower of S.Geremia also has a slight lean.

I think the most leaning tower in the lagoon must be the campanile of Burano, which is incredible. It shouldn't be standing.

Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

The question is, will they upright some of them, like they fixed the leaning tower of Pisa?

I think the Burano church tower stands only because some of its windows at the bell chamber level were filled in with bricks to act as a counterbalance.