The world's most leaning tower is not in Pisa
Suurhausen is a little town in East Frisia, counting approximately 1,200 inhabitants. It is home to the world's most leaning tower. Although it is only half as high as its Italian peer leaning tower in Pisa, the tower in Suurhausen has an inclination angle of 5.19 degrees and is thus significantly more leaning than the tower in Pisa. The Leaning Tower of Suurhausen holds the Guinness world record for being a building that has not deliberately been built leaning, but has over time become so.
Ever since the tower has been added to the Guinness book of records in 2007, it has become a tourist attraction. The 25.7m (84.3ft) high and 2,116 tons heavy tower, which belongs to the Protestant church of the community, attracts more than 10,000 tourists each year from all over the world. Everyone just wants to experience one of the probably last services held in the 850 years old church as long as it still stands.
The “old church” in Suurhausen was built in the beginning of the 13th century, but the steeple was added in 1450 with a foundation entirely consisting of oak trees. The foundation began to decay due to the sinking groundwater levels in the region. This is what caused the tower to tilt.
The imbalance was first noticed in 1885 and forty years later measurements were undertaken, proving that the church spire was showing a difference of 1.13m (3.71ft) from its original position. As a consequence, the ridge turrets were removed for reasons of unloading but the sinking of the building couldn't be stopped until the church was closed due to safety reasons.
Suurhausen's inhabitants were up for a fight against the decay of their church, initiating a rescue operation in 1982. Funded by donations and the federal state of Lower Saxony, the restorative measures began almost last minute when the church spire had shifted to a considerable 2.34m (7.68ft) difference from its original position. The new foundation was entirely built on ferro-concrete posts. Later, the pediment was given a steel corset, in addition. This enabled the re-opening of the church in 1985 and the tower was prevented from further sagging until 1996. After the latest measurements, a safety certificate was issued saying the tower is momentarily sufficiently stable.
How to get there
Approximately 6km (3.7mi) away from Suurhausen lies Emden, the largest town in East Frisia. At the train station, you take the bus line 410 taking you within 10 minutes to the bus stop “Suurhausen Kirche” in Hinte.
Coming via the A31 in the direction of Emden, exit at Emden-Mitte before continuing for about 4km (2.5mi) on the B210 towards Emden-Aurich until reaching Suurhausen. Once here, the Leaning Tower of Suurhausen is on your left hand-side in the street logically called “Am schiefen Turm”, “at the leaning tower”.