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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

CN Tower (World's second tallest freestanding structure) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower), in Chicago, Illinois, United States.
Milad Tower in Tehran, Iran is the tallest concrete tower in Middle East.
El Faro towers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, one of the tallest constructions in the city.

Towers are tall structures that are almost always taller than they are wide, usually by a significant margin. Towers are generally built to take advantage of their height, and can stand alone or as part of a larger structure.



Towers have been used by mankind since prehistoric times. The oldest known may be the circular stone tower in walls of Neolithic Jericho (8000 BC). Some of the earliest surviving examples are the broch structures in northern Scotland, which are conical towerhouses. These and later examples from Phoenician and Roman cultures emphasised the use of a tower in fortification and sentinel roles. For example, watchtower elements are found at Mogador from the first millennium BC, derived from Phoenician or Carthaginian origins. The Romans utilised octagonal towers[1] as elements of Diocletian's Palace in Croatia, which monument dates to approximately 300 AD, while the Servian Walls (4th century BC) and the Aurelian Walls (3rd century AD) featured square ones. The Chinese used towers as integrated elements of the Great Wall of China in 210 BC during the Qin Dynasty.

A noted incomplete tower is the Hassan Tower in Morocco, where work was abandoned in 1199 AD, and the tower stands today as a monument in its incomplete state.[2] Another well known tower is the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy built from 1173 until 1372. The Himalayan Towers are stone towers located chiefly in Tibet built approximately 14th to 15th century. [3]


Old English torr is from Latin turris via Old French tor. The Latin term together with Greek τύρσις was loaned from a pre-Indo-European Mediterranean language, connected with the Illyrian toponym Βου-δοργίς. With the Lydian toponyms Τύρρα, Τύρσα, it has been connected with the ethnonym Τυρρήνιοι as well as with Tusci (from *Turs-ci), the Greek and Latin names for the Etruscans (Kretschmer Glotta 22, 110ff.)

Functions of towers


A modern type of tower, the skyscraper, uses less ground space as a ratio of total building interior square footage. Skyscrapers are often not classified as towers, although most have the same design and structure of towers. In the United Kingdom, tall domestic buildings are referred to as tower blocks. In the United States, the World Trade Center had the nickname the Twin Towers, a name shared with the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Strategic advantages

Roman tower in Cologne with decorative inlay

The tower throughout history has provided its users with an advantage in surveying defensive positions and obtaining a better view of the surrounding areas, including battlefields. They were installed on defensive walls, or rolled near a target (see siege tower). Today, strategic-use towers are still used at prisons, military camps, and defensive perimeters.

Watchtower in the Israeli West Bank barrier
Sky Tower tower in Auckland, New Zealand is the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere and is part of the World Federation of Great Towers

Potential energy

Typical modern water tower in Carmel, Indiana, United States.

By using gravity to move objects or substances downward, a tower can be used to store items or liquids like a storage silo or a water tower, or aim an object into the earth such as a drilling tower. Ski-jump ramps use the same idea, and in the absence of a natural mountain slope or hill, can be human-made.

Communication enhancement

In history, simple towers like lighthouses, bell towers, clock towers, signal towers and minarets were used to communicate information over greater distances. In more recent years, radio masts and cell phone towers facilitate communication by expanding the range of the transmitter. The CN Tower in Toronto, Canada was built as a communications tower, with the capability to act as both a transmitter and repeater. Its design also incorporated features to make it a tourist attraction, including the world's highest observation deck at 147 stories.

Transportation support

Towers can also be used to support bridges, and can reach heights that rival some of the tallest buildings above-water. Their use is most prevalent in suspension bridges and cable-stayed bridges. The use of the pylon, a simple tower structure, has also helped to build railroad bridges, mass-transit systems, and harbors.

Other towers

The term "tower" is also sometimes used to refer to firefighting equipment with an extremely tall ladder designed for use in firefighting/rescue operations involving high-rise buildings.

See also

Tower in Islamic architecture : old minaret (8th-9th century) of the Mosque of Uqba also known as the Great Mosque of Kairouan, city of Kairouan, Tunisia


  1. ^ C.Michael Hogan, "Diocletian's Palace", The Megalithic Portal, A. Burnham ed, Oct 6, 2007
  2. ^ Justin McGuinness, Morocco Handbook, 2003, Footprint Travel Guides: Morocco, 560 pages ISBN 190347163X
  3. ^ Dana Thomas, Towers to the Heavens, Newsweek, 2003-11-15

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TOWER (Lat. turris; Fr. tour, clocher; Ital. tome; Ger. Thurm), the term given to a lofty building originally designed for defence, and, as such, attached to and forming part of the fortifications of a city or castle. Towers do not seem to have existed in Egypt, but in Mesopotamia from the earliest times they form the most important feature in the city walls, and are shown in the bas-reliefs of the Assyrian palaces at Nimroud and elsewhere. The earliest representation is perhaps that engraved on the tablet in the lap of Gudea the priest king of Lagash (2700 B.C.), whose statue, found at Tello, is now in the Louvre; the drawing is that of a large fortified enclosure, with gates, bastions and towers, corresponding with remains of similar structures of the same and later periods. In the discoveries made here, at Susa and at Dom Sargoukin, the towers were about 40 ft. square, projecting from 16 to 20 ft. in front of the curtain walls which connected them, and standing about 80 ft. apart. In Roman and Byzantine times this distance was increased, owing probably to the greater speed of projectiles, and in the wall built by Theodosius at Constantinople the towers were i so ft. apart (see also Castle and Fortifi Cation).

From the architectural point of view, the towers which are of chief interest are those of ecclesiastical and secular buildings, those in Italy being nearly always isolated and known as campanili (see Campanile). In England the earliest known are the Anglo-Saxon towers, the best examples of which are those at Earl's Barton,Monkwearmouth, Barnack, Barton-on-Humber and Sompting; they were nearly always square on plan and situated at the west end, in an axial line with the nave, their chief characteristics being the long-and-short work of the masonry at the quoins, the decoration of the wall with thin pilaster strips, and the slight setting back of the storeys as they rose. There are a few examples of central Anglo-Saxon towers, as at St Mary's, Dover; Breamore, Hants; and Dunham Major, Norfolk; and, combined with western towers, at Ramsay and Ely; twin western towers existed at Exeter. Contemporary with these Saxon towers are many examples in France, but they are invariably central towers, a s at Germigny-des-Pres and at Querqueville in Normandy; in Germany the twin towers of Aix-la-Chapelle are the best known. As a rule the single western tower is almost confined to England, prior to the end of the 11th century, when there are many examples throughout Germany. In Norman times in England, central towers are more common, and the same obtains in France, where, however, they are sometimes cArried to a great height, as at Perigueux, where the wall decoration consists of pilasters in the lower storeys, and semi-detached columns above, probably based on that of the Roman amphitheatre there: otherwise the design of the Romanesque church towers is extremely simple, depending for its effect on the good masonry and the enrichment of the belfry windows. In later periods flat buttresses are introduced, and these gradually assume more importance and present many varieties of design; greater apparent height is given to the tower by the string courses dividing the second storeys, and by rich blank arcading on them, the upper storey with the belfry windows forming always the most important feature of the tower. In those towers which are surmounted by spires the design of the latter possesses sometimes a greater interest both in England and France. A very large number of the towers of English cathedrals and churches have flat roofs enclosed with lofty battlemented parapets and numerous pinnacles and finials; in France such terminations are not found, and in Germany the high pitched roof is prevalent every where, so that the numerous examples in England have a special interest; sometimes the angle buttresses are grouped to carry octagonal pinnacles, and sometimes, as at Lincoln and Salisbury, octagonal turrets rise from the base of the tower.

Among the finest examples are those of Canterbury, Ely, York, Gloucester, Lincoln and Worcester cathedrals; among churches, those of the minster at Beverley; St Mary's, St Neots (Huntingdonshire); St Stephen's, Bristol, St Giles, Wrexham (Denbighshire - in many respects the most beautiful in England); St Mary Magdalene, Taunton; Magdalen College, Oxford; St Botolph, Boston, crowned with an octagonal tower; St Mary's, Ilminster (Somersetshire) and Malvern (Worcestershire);; and the isolated towers at Chichester, Evesham and Bury St Edmund's.

So far reference has been made only to central and western towers, the latter not always placed, like the Anglo-Saxon towers, in the axial line of the nave, but sometimes on the north or south side of the west end; and as a rule these are only found in England. In France and Germany, however, they are greatly increased in number; thus in Reims seven towers with spires, were contemplated, according to Viollet-le-Duc, but never completed; at Chartres eight towers, and at Laon seven, of which six are completed; in Germany the cathedrals of Mayence and Spires and two of the churches in Cologne have from four to seven towers, and at Tournai cathedral, in Belgium, are seven towers. In many of the churches in Norfolk and Suffolk the western tower is circular, owing probably to the fact that, being built with stone of small dimensions, the angles of the quoins would have been difficult to construct. In some of the French towns, isolated towers were built to contain bells, and were looked upon as municipal constructions; of these there are a few left, as at Bethune, Evreux, Amiens and Bordeaux, the latter being a double tower, with the bells placed in a roof between them.

The towers of secular buildings are chiefly of the town halls, of which there are numerous examples throughout France and Belgium, such as those of the hotel de ville at St Antonin (13th century) and Compiegne, both in France; at Lubeck, Danzig and Munster in Germany; and Brussels, Bruges and Oudenarde in Belgium.

(R. P. S.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also tower



German Wikipedia has articles on:

Wikipedia de


Tower m.

  1. control tower (for air traffic)


  • Kontrollturm m.

Proper noun


  1. Tower of London

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

A building of strength or magnificence (Isa. ii. 15; Cant. iv. 4, vii. 4), and, with a more limited connotation, a watch-tower in a garden or vineyard or in a fortification. It was customary to erect watch-towers in the vineyards for the guards (Isa. v. 2), and such round and tapering structures may still be seen in the vineyards of Judea. Similar towers were built for the protection of the flocks by the shepherd, in the enclosures in which the animals were placed for the night (comp. the term "tower of the flock," Gen. xxxv. 21; Micah iv. 8), and it is expressly stated that Uzziah built such structures in the desert for his enormous herds (II Chron. xxvi. 10). Around these towers dwellings for shepherds and peasants doubtless developed gradually, thus often forming the nuclei of permanent settlements.

Towers for defense were erected chiefly on the walls of fortified cities, the walls themselves being strengthened by bastions (Neh. iii. 1), and the angles and gates being likewise protected by strong towers (II Kings ix. 17). Thus the walls of the city of Jerusalem were abundantly provided with towers in antiquity, and the ancient tower of Phasael (the so-called "tower of David") in the modern citadel is an excellent specimen of this mode of defense, its substructure being of massive rubblework, and the ancient portion of the tower erected upon it being built of immense square stones (for illustration see Jew. Encyc. vii. 142). The citadel forming the center of a fortified city was also termed "migdol" (Judges viii. 9, ix. 46). It was usually erected at the highest point of the city, and formed the last place of refuge in case the town was besieged and its walls stormed (Judges ix. 46).

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
Facts about TowerRDF feed

Simple English

A tower is a tall building. Many castles have towers. Today, towers are very tall and some are used to send radio signals to people far away.

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