Cracks in history: Leaning Tower of Nevyansk


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Oct 4, 2020
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I remember when I was in primary school, reading about the world's history in the delightful small books.. Learning about the most important events in history.
From great achievements in the past, like the pyramids. Or brilliant minds, changing the world for the better, like Benjamin Franklin.

With so much information pressed in a small book, only little details could be given on the subjects, and we discussed them after. Great times.
However, I could not help but notice this little voice that would occasionally pop into my head, telling me it was all made up.

It was many years later that I realized that many lies can be told in a small time, or in this case a small book.
For it is easy to write a tale and leave out some details if they do not fit your narative.
But if you start looking into the stories individually the cracks begin to show, the questions increase, and the story falls apart.

Welcome, thank you for taking the time for reading and please comment.

Today we are looking at the Leaning Tower of Nevyansk.
Let us start with some basic information provided by Wikipedia.


''The Leaning Tower of Nevyansk (Russian: Невьянская наклонная башня; Nevyanskaya naklonnaja bashnja) is a leaning tower in Nevyansk, Russia, in Sverdlovsk Oblast east of the Urals Mountains. The tower was built in the 18th century by mining magnate Akinfi Demidov, son of Nikita Demidov, friend of Peter the Great and ruler of his own private mountain republic in the Urals.

Little factual information is known about the tower and therefore all the more folk tales. The tower is 57.5 meters high and, according to recent measurements, is about 2.2 meters off plumb at the top. The tower measures 9.5 by 9.5 meters to the ground. The walls are 2 meters thick at the base and 32 centimeters at the top. Nothing is known about the year of construction of the tower and the architect, except that the tower must have been built somewhere between 1702 and 1741. Today, as the construction period, scientists indicate 1725 to 1732 as the most likely period. The documents relating to the construction of the tower may have been lost in a fire in 1890. The year 1732 is engraved in the chimes in the tower, which may indicate that the tower was then completed. In 1735 the famous book Contours was published by mining engineer de Gennin, in which the completed tower is drawn as an illustration.''

-Build by Akinfi Demidov
-Constructed between 1702-1741
-Most likely between 1725-1732
-Records lost in fire

''The purpose of the tower is still speculated. Some think it was a Demidov bank vault. Others think it was a watchtower, clock tower or prison, and still others even that in the basement of the tower was a secret laboratory where chemical experiments were carried out and where counterfeit coins, the so-called "Demidov rubles", were minted. Finally, some think it was built as an architectural symbol of the Demidov family's wealth and power.''
-Your guess is as good as anyone's, I suppose

''In the tower is a room between the fifth and sixth floors, the purpose of which is still uncertain. This room was referred to by the archaeologists as the "acoustic room" because of the acoustics caused by the geometry of the room. The room has an area of approximately 20 m². If one person stands in a corner and whispers something, it can be heard by another person standing in a different corner. Akinfi may have tried to eavesdrop on his high-ranking guests. This sonic effect, according to the head of the physics faculty of the Yekaterinburg Architectural Institute, is explained by the optimal relationship between the length of a sound-speed wave in relation to the radius of the curvature of this room, amplifying acoustic waves.''

Research shows that very advanced techniques were used in the construction of the tower before that time.

In 1723, the Menshikov Tower in Moscow caught fire after a lightning strike. Akinfi or his architect therefore probably wanted to prevent his tower from suffering the same fate. The architect had a lightning conductor built on top of the tower in the form of a gilded sphere with points. If the tower was built between 1725 and 1732, it means that the lightning rod was developed by Russian engineers 25 years before Benjamin Franklin invented it. Another peculiarity is that the reinforced concrete principle was used in the construction to reinforce the tower, some 130 years before reinforced concrete was officially invented by a gardener from Paris.

Lightening rod

The tower is constructed with grounded iron bars, which are visible throughout the tower and also run through the walls. Remarkably, after 300 years, there are still no visible signs of corrosion on the iron parts used for the tower. According to scientists, these iron parts contain 99.6% iron. It is a mystery how such a high-quality metal was manufactured at the time, because it was not until the 20th century that an equivalent percentage was achieved.''

''The lightning rod was invented by Benjamin Franklin after an experiment performed on June 15, 1752, using a kite and wet kite rope during a thunderstorm.''
Did he now?

Buildings and inventors.. The stories are great, until we start to look into them seperately.
Thank you for reading this far, I hope to see many comments and your thoughts.

Have a great day,
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It seems this tower has much to be discussed! Per a quick search, this article shows us that not only does this tower seem to have the worlds first lightening rod, but also the first concrete reinforced with rebar, several decades prior to rebar’s official invention. A lot of us here are used to seeing much “older” rebar sticking out of “ancient” sculptures and pillars. The linked article also makes a pretty solid argument for the tower being built leaning intentionally based off the rebar placement. Very interesting post OP! I’m going to have to do some more digging around on this one.
I notice with Demidov that we have a very wealthy, very connected gentleman in the munitions trade commissioning a tower that had the earliest accepted use of rebar, the earliest accepted lightning rod, a room between floors created with precision calculation to maximize the acoustic properties and another room that was likely forging currency. The tower was even rumored to be built leaning toward Demidov’s house as a nod of respect. It certainly appears to be someone with access to knowledge of our past civilizations who decided to hide it in plain sight by creating this tower. Just shows you how TPTB like to throw it in our faces.

Edit: I mixed up with the rumor of the tower leaning toward Demidov’s house. The actual rumor is that the tower is leaning toward his birth place of Tula.
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Here is the best of further information I could find in a search on this tower.

One of the legends has it that the inclination of the tower was an idea of some talented architect. They say that the tower was purposely inclined to face southwest in the direction of Tula, Demidov’s birthplace. Supposedly, this is how Akinfiy wanted to demonstrate his affection for his former home. Another legend claims that right after the end of the construction of the edifice Akinfiy Demidov and the architect went on top of the tower. There, Demidov asked him whether he could build anything better than the Nevyansk Tower. The architect answered "yes", and Demidov ordered him thrown down from the top of the building (a rather similar legend is attached to the construction of the Prague Astronomical Clock). The next morning the locals supposedly noticed that the tower had leaned forward a bit and water had started trickling down the walls as if the tower were "crying". Interestingly enough, one can still see some water constantly dripping down the southwest wall of the tower to this day. However, there are a number of natural explanations for this phenomenon.

The restorers say that there is no evidence to even assume that the Nevyansk Tower was purposely built inclined. The current surveying data shows that the defect had to be obvious during the construction. It appears that drifting grounds were to blame for the inclination of the tower from the very beginning. Scientists believe that an uneven subsidence took place when the tower had already been partially built. Most likely, the construction workers stopped building the tower on seeing the defect, but later on they decided to go on with their work. This can be proven by the color of mortar between the bricks, the composition of which changed as the architects worked their way up. It is also visible how the workers started using specially trimmed bricks, with which they tried to even out the tower. It appears that the architects finally succeeded in straightening it out. Current measurements indicate that there is a 3-degree deviation of the base part from the axis, the middle part is already straightened, and the inclination of the tower equals only one degree. The top part of the tower is standing vertically. Local meteorologists say that one can make sure that the top of the tower is absolutely vertical without even using a theodolite by looking at the weather vane on the steeple. It shows the direction of the wind even when the wind is minimal. If the top of the tower were not vertical, the two-meter weather vane weighing 25 kg would always stand still in calm weather in the same position, and this never happens. This explanation ignores the possibility that the weather vane was mounted off-axis from the top of the tower, allowing the weather vane to be straight while the top of the tower is still inclined."
Leaning Tower of Nevyansk | Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing - eBooks | Read eBooks online

There are sources listed at the end of the article.
It seems all the information now available comes from the restorers, probably due to the burning of the records.

With regard to the structure , there is this abstract from Springer if you are able to access the full document.
There also are google scholar references at the bottom of the abstract if you are able to access them they may provide more information.

The Nevyansk Tower is a unique monument of history and culture in the Ural region of Russia, which was constructed at the beginning of the 18th Century. At the article along with the description of the history of construction of this monument are reported the information on the known and many unknown facts related to it, data on the tilting of the Tower. Also it shows the reconstruction of the history of inclination of the Tower and the prediction of its development for 100 and 300 years. In the case of possibility of a dangerous progress of its tilt there must provide a detailed engineering investigation of the Nevyansk Tower and develop the projects for stabilization of tower position similarly to what has been made on the worldwide famous monument of Pisa tower."
Hypotheses of the Tilting of Nevyansk Tower

"What is Ural? Ural is basically a junction of mountains, forests, mines, and industrial cities. How did this all come about? From the Demidovs. This family founded their empire there and breathed life into the region. If you’d like to see Ural how it really is, you can begin your travels on a tour of Nevyansk Tower – the symbol, bulwark, and heyday of the flourishing of the Demidov empire. There are rumors that it was there that Akinfy Demidov produced his first silver coin, however the basement where that took place had to be burned along with people during an unexpected visit from the emperor’s overseer. The tower became a quiet witness of those days and scientists to this day are still unable to confirm or debunk most of the legends that are told by the locals about the tower. First of all, one of them is whether the fact that the tower is leaning was a goof-up or whether it was on purpose is still unanswered. The tower features a so-called rumors room. The trick of the building is that when someone says something in one corner, somebody standing in the other corner won’t be able to hear it. As far as the reason for its creation is concerned, there are several different story versions. It doesn’t take more than an hour to get from Yekaterinburg to Nevyansk where the tower is, although after walking through the dark hallways of this old edifice, you get the impression that you’re being followed. You can climb all the way to the top of the tower and peer into the Ural landscape, the same place where the Demidovs oversaw their properties from. "

(Bold emphasis mine.)

Images from the above site;




Things I find interesting:
It is built alongside a river, beside an ancient architecture structure which I haven't pursued in my short time to research, and also the monument to Demidov alongside Peter the Great in which both have their right hands placed on their left thighs.
What is the symbolic meaning of that pose I wonder.The reference to it being burned before the visit of the emperor's official is suspicious is it not,what was it Demidov didn't want Peter to know and why did Peter send the official?
Some of our Russian members may be able to come up with some answers from Russian language articles.
Also nearly every article gives different measurements for the tower,why is that I wonder.

Further information about the clock;

"The Nevyansk tower has preserved its 18th-century clock tower. This chiming clock was manufactured in the 1730s by an English clockmaker, Richard Phelps, and had needed repairs only three times since. There was a time when the clock could play up to 20 musical pieces. Today, every 15 minutes the clock chimes the melody «Glory to You» from the opera «A Life for the Tsar».

Another feature of the tower is the metal steeple with a weathercock, bearing the stamped coat-of-arms of the Demidovs. The steeple is grounded."


Image source

And on the subject of clocks,I thought perhaps you may not have seen this one in Prague.Enjoy.🙂


Prague astronomical clock - Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core


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Oct 4, 2020
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To summarize for now:

We have a tower build with:

-reinforced concrete principle 130 around years before it was invented
-grounded bars halfway through the tower, without erosion because of 99,6% iron, around 200 years before it's invention
-Since de Gennin made a drawing of the tower in 1732, let us assume it was finished that year. Leaving us with a 20 year time gap before my man Benjamin invented the lightening rod.

Was this unnamed architect a Russian Da Vinci?


Or are the stories about inventions, inventors, and buildings maybe just stories?

I am looking forward to digging into this more deep. Thank you @JohnNada and @Oracle for your replies.

Have a great day all!
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