2 June 2011

The Leaning Tower of Suurhusen

It is less than half the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and lacks its ornate and flamboyant beauty.  Yet this leaning tower, located in the tiny North German hamlet of Suurhusen has now entered the Guinness Book of Records.  It is officially the building with the biggest unintentional lean in the world.

The church was originally built in the middle ages and the land then was very swampy.  To ensure that the church tower stayed erect it was built on a foundation of oak tree logs which ensured it stayed upright for a number of centuries.  Unfortunately the land around the church was drained in the eighteenth century and the tower began its inexorable lean towards the ground.

You may think that the steeple is not quite a leaning as the tower in Pisa and to the human eye this would seem so, yet the tower is much higher than the church steeple and so its lean to our senses does seem more exaggerated.  The leaning tower of Pisa has a tilt of 3.99 degrees.  The Suurhusen church on the other hand, has a staggering 5.19 degree tilt.

There was a great concern in the 1970s that the tower was unsafe and so people were forbidden from climbing it.  At one stage an ‘exclusion zone’ was fixed around it to ensure that when it fell it would not come crashing down on any number of gawping tourists.  It was even threatened with demolition but a campaign by the locals ensured that instead it was made safe, at huge cost.

So, if you want to see the most leaning tower in the world you will have to forsake the elaborate beauty of Pisa and head toward this solidly Germanic brick beauty.