the bund at sunset

Pagoda in China “out-leans” Tower of Pisa

Just 25 miles outside of Shanghai, there is an architectural oddity: China’s own leaning tower, built nearly 1,000 years ago. The tilting structure draws in thousands of visitors despite very little advertising and support for the structure from within the country.

PisaThe 7-storey Huzhu Pagoda leans 7.10 degrees to the southeast, making it more crooked than the famed tower in Pisa, Italy. The lean even seems to be growing as the tower, in the Songjiang suburb, was leaning 6.51 degrees just 30 years ago.

“Part of the foundation was built on rock, part of the foundation was built on mud,” says Yang Kun, a historian from the Songjiang Museum who has researched the pagoda’s history, in an interview with American radio.

Video Footage

Filmmakers have recently released footage of a drone circling the structure and its garden grounds. In the video, the structure seems to spring, albeit crookedly, from the mountain landscape.

Huzhu Pagoda in China "out-leans" Tower of Pisa

It was built in 1079 by Gen. Zhou Wenda to be a shrine for religious relics given to him as a reward by Emperor Song Gaozong of the Southern Song dynasty but, because of the area where it was built, observers say that from the start it began to tilt. Yang Kun said that there are a number of other pagodas in the area that are tilting as well.

This particular temple’s excessive lean can attributed as a result of couple of other factors. In 1788, during a celebration, local villagers released firecrackers too close to the tower. The tower’s wooden infrastructure was destroyed, causing the tilt to increase.

The tower is a popular destination for foreign tourists on a cultural China holiday but, despite being built well before the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and having a greater degree of tilt, the Chinese version does not stand out as remarkable for those in the country. Maybe that is because of an un-fulfilled promise of riches at site of tower.

“Back in the 19th century, there were rumours that ancient coins were hidden in the pagoda, so the villagers near here all came to try to dig up the treasures. They found nothing,” Yang Kun explains in this article. “But when people kept digging they left a big hole here, and so the leaning was irreversible.”


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Image Credit: “Huzhu Pagoda, Shanghai” by NarjukoMcPig (flickr.com)

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