Towers have been built by mankind since prehistoric times. The walls of ancient Jericho, one of the first city walls ever built, was complemented by a stone tower. Later civilizations often built watchtowers as part of their fortifications to provide a high, safe place from which a guard could observe the surrounding area. In the last two millenniums all sorts of towers have been built including bell towers, clock towers, minarets and communication towers. Below is review of most popular towers in the world.
1. CN Tower
Located in the heart of Downtown Toronto, the CN Tower is Canada’s most recognizable icon. The communication tower was built from 1973 to 1976 by the railway company “Canadian National” and standing 553.33 meters (1,815.4 ft) tall was the tallest structure in the world for over 30 years until it was surpassed in height by the Burj Dubai.
2. Leaning Tower of Pisa
The world famous Pisa Tower was built over a period of about 177 years. Soon after the construction started in 1173 the tower began to sink due to a poorly laid foundation and was left alone for almost a century. When the construction resumed the engineers built higher floors with one side taller than the other to compensate for the tilt and the tower was finally finished in the 2nd half of the 14th century. Since 2001, the famous tower is again open to those wishing to climb it’s 296 steps.
The Big Ben Clock Tower is one of London’s most famous landmark. The name Big Ben actually refers not to the clock tower itself, but to the 13 ton bell housed within the tower and takes its name from the man who first ordered the bell, Sir Benjamin Hall. It is the 3th largest free-standing clock tower in the world.
4. Spiral Minaret
The Spiral Minaret or Malwiya Minaret is part of the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq. The mosque is one of the largest in the world. The minaret was originally connected to the mosque by a bridge. The minaret or tower was constructed in 848 – 852 out of sandstone, and is unique among other minarets because of its ascending spiral conical design. The tower is 52 meter (162 ft) high. In 2005 insurgents blew up the top section of the tower leaving crumbled brick and clay.
5. Minaret of Jam
Located in a remote area of western Afghanistan, the Minaret of Jam was built in the 12th century as part of a mosque. The mosque was washed away in a flash-flood and the site around the minaret was destroyed by the Mongols some time later. Considering this and the inhospitable climate it’s a small miracle the 65 meter (21 ft) high tower is still standing.
6. Qutb Minar
The Qutb Minar in India was commissioned by Qutb al-Din Aybak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, in 1193. Qutb al-Din Aybak wanted to surpass the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan but at the time of his death only the base had been completed. His successors continued the construction and the topmost storey was finally completed in 1386. The minaret is 72 meters high (237.8 feet) with 379 steps leading to the top making it the world’s tallest brick minaret.
Located about 1.5 km (0.9 miles) northwest of the ancient city of Dali, The Three Pagodas are one of the best preserved Buddhist structures in China having endured several man-made and natural catastrophes. The middle pagoda, built during 824-840 AD by king Quan Fengyou, is 69.6 meters (227 feet) high and is one of the tallest pagodas in China. The other two pagodas are built about a century later and are 42.19 meters (140 feet) high.
8. Eiffel Tower
The tower was built by Gustave Eiffel as the entrance arch for the International Exhibition of Paris of 1889. With a height of 300 meters (984 feet) it was the tallest tower in the world until 1930, when the Chrysler Building in New York was completed. Since it’s construction more than 200,000,000 people have visited the Eiffel Tower making it the most visited paid monument in the world.
Belém Tower was built in the early 16th century as part of a defense system to protect the city of Lisbon. It was the starting point for many navigators who set out to discover new trade routes and has become a monument to Portugal’s Age of Discovery.
10. Towers of San Gimignano
Nicknamed the medieval Manhatten, San Gimignano is a village in Tuscany famous for its 14 stone towers. At the height of San Gimignano’s wealth and power, more than 70 towers were built to defend the town against enemy attacks. After the plague devastated the city in 1348, San Gimignano’s power faded, which kept enemies away and preserved many of the city’s famous towers.