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The Mystery of the Leaning Tower of Nevyansk

17. June 2011 by Michelle 0 Comments

While historians and archaeologists were finally granted access to the Tower of Nevyansk in the early 2000s, some are still debating about its purpose, who built it, and what exactly went on there.


It’s believed to have been constructed in the 18th century, sometime between 1725 and 1732, and was funded by Akinfiy Demidov, an associate of Peter the Great.


However, there is still no information about its architect, who apparently used some of the most advanced technologies for that time. It has the world's first cast iron dome, lightning rod, reinforced concrete, and rebars.


The tower stands 57.5 meters (188.6 feet) tall and leans about 2.2 meters (7.2 feet). One legend says the tower’s tilt was built on purpose to point towards Tula, Demidov’s birthplace.


Another legend claims that Demidov and his architect were standing on top of the tower when Demidov asked if he could build anything better. When the architect answered yes, Demidov threw him off. The next day, locals noticed the tower had leaned slightly forward and water was trickling down the walls, as if it was crying. Strangely enough, water still drips down the southwest wall of the tower to this day.


Despite the colorful legends, restorers say the lean is due to drifting grounds during construction. Evidence of specially trimmed bricks which workers used to try to even out the tower serve as proof.


As for the purpose of the tower, some say that Demidov used it as a bank safe, while others believe it was a watchtower, belltower, prison, or even a laboratory for conducting chemical experiments and producing counterfeit money. Historians believe the tower was supposed to serve as an architectural symbol of the Demidov dynasty.


The first floor was used for some sort of secret work with the help of shackled serfs, and the second floor appears to have been an office. The third floor looks like a laboratory with a furnace, while the seventh and eight floors house a unique musical bell clock. The ninth floor was for observation.


The most mysterious room, located between the fourth and fifth stairwell floors, is called the acoustic room. If someone stands in one corner, they can whisper words to someone in the other corner and they will hear them clearly. Scientists still haven’t discovered the significance of this remarkable room.


The Nevyansk Tower is open to the public, with guided tours provided by a local museum.