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Ancient Places / Trip Ideas

Leaning towers in China

By Yuewei Yang

May 5

Towers are supposed to stand still, but over time some may tilt or be effected by sudden external forces. While the Tower of Pisa probably comes to mind, China also has a number of towers famous for their tilt.

Towers are supposed to stand still, but over time some may tilt or be effected by sudden external forces. While the Tower of Pisa probably comes to mind, China also has a number of towers famous for their tilt.

Towers are supposed to stand still, but over time some may tilt or be effected by sudden external forces. While the Tower of Pisa probably comes to mind, China  also has a number of towers famous for their tilt.

1/5 Zhibo Diaolou, Sichuan 四川直波碉楼

Zhibo Diaolou [Image Credit: Xinhua]

Zhibo Diaolou is situated in Ma Er Kang (马尔康) County in Sichuan and has a history of more than 300 years. The top of the tower is displaced horizontally 2.3 meters from the center. Made of stones and yellow mud, the 13-storey tower is 43 meters high. It was built mainly for wartime communication and defense and has survived three earthquakes relatively unscathed (1933, 1976 and 2008).

2/5 Zuojiang Leaning Tower, Guangxi 广西左江斜塔

Zuojiang Leaning Tower [Image Credit: Renmin net Guangxi]
Zuojiang Leaning Tower [Image Credit: Renmin net Guangxi]
Located on Bietou Mountain (鳖头峰) in Zuojiang, Guangxi, the tower leans at an angle of 4.25 degrees. It was first constructed during the Ming Dynasty in 1621. The width of the walls at the base is 5 meters and the tower stands 18.28 meters high. In the tower, there are winding stairs leading to the top, which can hold two people at a time. The tower leans over the adjoining river, giving a daunting view from the top.

3/5 Pagoda of Dinglin Temple, Nanjing  南京定林寺塔

Pagoda of Dinglin Temple [Image Credit: China tower’s Sina Blog]
Located at the foot of Fangshan Mountain (方山) in Nanjing, the 15 meter high Pagoda of Dinglin Temple (定林寺) was built in 1173. The seven-storey pavilion-like brick pagoda was designed as an octahedral wooden tower and constructed on an insecure volcano rock lacking a solid foundation. Rain has eaten away part of the foundation over the years making the south side of the base higher than the north. Currently the tower leans 5.3 degrees northwards.

4. Huzhu Pagoda, Shanghai 上海护珠塔

Huzhu Pagoda [Image Credit: Renmin net]
Huzhu Pagoda [Image Credit: Renmin]
Huzhu Pagoda is located on Tianmashan Hill (天马山) in Songjiang District, Shanghai. With a leaning angle of 7.10 degrees, it surpasses the Leaning Tower of Pisa (比萨斜塔). The seven-storey octahedral pagoda was built in 1079 to store Buddhist relics bestowed by Emperor Gaozong of the Song Dynasty. Thanks to both the octahedral structure and the building material, such as sticky rice and lime, the tower leans to one side but has never collapsed. After repairs in 1980s, the pagoda can resist earthquakes up to 6-magnitude and 10-grade wind.

5/5 Tiger Hill Pagoda, Suzhou  苏州虎丘塔

Tiger Hill Pagoda [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/ Hanbo]
 Located in Suzhou, the Tiger Hill Pagoda was constructed in 961. As its foundation is made of half rock and half mud, the pagoda has been gradually leaning northeast since the Ming Dynasty. The top of the tower is displaced 2.34 meters horizontally and leans 3.59 degrees. In the thousand years since construction, the pagoda has gone through earthquakes, thunderstorms and fires but has never collapsed —a great example of tenth century brick masonry along the Yangtze River.

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