SHANGHAI might be home to the most leaning tower in the world ... but few people seem to have heard of it.
It was announced this week that Huzhu Tower, tucked away in Songjiang District, leans at 7.1 degrees — 0.58 degrees more than in 1982 when it was last measured.
That compares with the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy which lists by just under 4 degrees, and the Leaning Tower of Suurhusen in Germany which leans almost 5.2 degrees.
The German tower holds a Guinness World Record for the most tilted tower in the world — though some intentionally titled structures lean further.
Built in 1157, Huzhu Tower is a seven-story Buddhist pagoda close to Sheshan Hill and Chenshan Botanical Garden.
According to an ancient text, it was built by an army officer called Zhou Wenda to enshrine five Buddhist relics given to him by Emperor Song Gaozong of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).
But its foundations were built on mud and over the years it began to lean, though subsidence wasn’t its only problem.
In 1788, the tower was badly damaged in a blaze caused by a wayward firework set off in a nearby yard, while some local people claim it was bombarded by Japanese forces during World War II.
The tower was rediscovered in the 1980s when the Shanghai government launched a plan to stabilize it. It was later added to a list of the city’s protected cultural relics.
In the early 2000s, the temple became part of the newly formed Tianma Mountain Park and was seen by more people.
Since then, its popularity has grown considerably, though it is still not very well known, a park worker surnamed Liu told Shanghai Daily.
The park attracts up to 700 people a day during the holidays, but only about 100 a day at other times, he said.
Concern for the fate of the 19-meter-high tower has been growing, however.
Fu Huanping, a manager at Shanghai Jianwei Architecture Preservation Engineering Technology Co, said his company has been commissioned by the Shanghai Cultural Relics Bureau to monitor the tower.
“We have installed sensors and cameras in and around the tower to help study its structure and monitor its health,” Fu said.
All of the data collected by the company will be passed to the city’s architecture experts so that a plan for the tower’s long-term preservation can be drawn up, he said.