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Towers of various shapes and functions
Eiffel Tower
The Holländer Tower in Bern
Tower as an end in itself, a folly

A tower is a vertically aligned structure that can be walked on and is defined by its height. This means that its height is either a multiple of its diameter or its thickness and / or it clearly towers above the surrounding buildings or adjacent components (e.g. the nave of a church or the wall of a city fortification). A tower can stand on its own (real tower e.g. round tower ), or it can be part of a larger building or structure (e.g. church tower, minaret; towers as part of a castle or a city ​​fortification ). In principle, towers can be built from a wide variety of materials. The building materials commonly used in construction are widespread: wood , metal , stone , steel or concrete .

The height of towers can have different motivations, especially functional and creative. The function of towers is often to create a usable location in an exposed location (observation tower, watchtower, combat tower, diving tower) or to bring an object into an exposed location for better effectiveness (bells, billboards, antenna, elevated water tank, etc.). Other towers result from the necessity of a use-related high, rather slim room (typologically, they are comparable to halls with a small footprint ). In some cases, however, design motives also play a role.

Towers are often urban dominants in a settlement (village, town, etc.) or landmarks in the landscape .

The term tower is to be distinguished from the term high-rise building on the one hand, and from the term mast on the other , although the exact delimitation is often not possible, sometimes there are overlaps, depending on the context, different definitions or linguistic imprecision. Bell towers or church towers are usually referred to as a tower even if they are not accessible.

In particular in radio technology - in contrast to a mast ( transmission mast ), which is often designed as a truss construction - a tower ( transmission tower ) is understood to be an upright cantilever construction that can be walked on and not braced (i.e. not anchored with guys ) .

Tower constructions for radio-technical purposes that are isolated from earth are called self-radiating transmission masts . However, the separation is not always observed in practice, as there are mixed constructions, so-called hybrid towers . DIN V 4131: 2008-09 "Antenna structures made of steel" defines in section 3.3 the tower as a free-standing, cantilever-supporting structure.

Towers are vertical structures. Often they taper towards the tip for static reasons. In addition, there are also leaning tower constructions , which either resulted from uneven ground subsidence or were built on purpose with an angle of inclination to the vertical.

Oldest towers

Towers have been built since prehistory (see Broch , Nuraghe , Torre , Talayot , Tholos , Ziggurat ). The oldest tower dates from around 7,500 BC. And is the tower in Jericho . Many towers in history can be interpreted as "signs of power".

Well-known towers

Some well-known examples are the Berlin radio tower , a 146.7 meter high steel lattice tower , the Berlin television tower , the tallest structure in Germany, the Europaturm in Frankfurt am Main, and the Stuttgart television tower , the first reinforced concrete television tower of its kind worldwide. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Gerbrandytoren in the Netherlands, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Canadian CN Tower are also of international importance .

Types and types of towers

For various functional reasons, it can be useful or necessary to design a building or structure as a tower.

  • 1. Towers that require a special height due to their internal use. These include B. the shotgun tower, the hose tower or the test tower.
  • 2. Towers that require a greater height to increase the usable volume. Silo towers, for example, belong to this group.
  • 3. Towers that are erected in order to be able to spread signals, information or messages from an exposed location more effectively.
    • Acoustic signals can be the ringing of bells (bell tower), the call of the muezzin ( minaret ), a siren and many others.
    • Optical signals or messages emanate from lighthouses, clock towers and advertising towers, for example.
    • Transmission towers send out technical signals that are not immediately perceptible to humans.
  • 4. Towers that were designed to create an exposed place from which one has a better overview. Above all, this includes observation towers, watch towers and waiting towers.
  • 5. Towers that were built as landmarks or as an urban dominant.
  • 6. Others.

Different types of towers, alphabetically

Towers from architectural history

Keep of Saaleck Castle

Observation towers

Towers as industrial structures

Oil derrick

Transmission towers

TV tower in Stuttgart

Towers from the entertainment sector

Wooden tower Oberpfalzturm on the plate

In the leisure and entertainment sector, there are various towers, such as B. the observation tower , fire tower and the gyro tower . In near-natural areas there are so-called wooden towers that serve as hiking destinations and viewing platforms in mountainous and / or wooded areas. Specifically in the field of sport, there are also the parachute jump tower , free fall tower , climbing tower , as well as the cable car tower , ski jump and diving tower .

Other tower-like towering structures

In addition to the real towers, there are other structures with a tower-like silhouette, i.e. H. other towering structures that are nonetheless not towers. These include, for example:

Towers under the tallest structures

Towers as vertically oriented structures are strongly represented among the tallest structures worldwide. So who was St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna for centuries the tallest building in Europe.

Today, however, the group of the tallest structures nationally or worldwide also includes dams , bridges , guyed masts, chimneys, wind turbines, high-rise buildings, etc.

The tallest building in Germany is a tower ( Berlin TV tower ) and also the tallest building in Austria ( Danube Tower ), but the tallest building in Switzerland is a dam ( Lac des Dix ) and the tallest building in France is a bridge ( Viaduc de Millau ) . The world's tallest structure is a high-rise ( Burj Khalifa ).

Tallest towers

  1. Burj Khalifa 828 m, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  2. Tokyo Sky Tree 634 m, Tokyo, Japan
  3. Abraj Al Bait Towers 601 m, Mecca, Saudi Arabia
  4. Canton Tower 600 m, Guangzhou, China
  5. CN Tower 553 m, Toronto, Canada
  6. Ostankino Tower 540 m, Moscow, Russia
  7. Oriental Pearl Tower 468 m, Shanghai, China

It should be noted that this list of tallest towers only takes into account freestanding structures on the mainland.

To determine the height, a tower height determination can be carried out if necessary .

Symbolic towers

the Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder Ä.


  • Sutter, Conrad: Thurmbuch - tower forms of all styles and countries / collected and drawn by Conrad Sutter. Berlin: Wasmuth, 1895. The book as a free download
  • Erwin Heinle, Fritz Leonhardt: Towers of all times - of all cultures . Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart (Germany) (1997), ISBN 3-421-02931-8
  • Kai Eckart: Towards the clouds. The tallest towers in Germany . Herbert Utz Verlag, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-89675-902-7 . The book as a free download
  • Jack Reese: Lookout and monument towers in Schleswig-Holstein . Kultfeinwerk Verlag, Ascheberg / Holst. (Germany) (2008), ISBN 978-3-9812031-0-3
  • Paul Maar: Towers . A non-fiction and narrative book of famous and unknown, remarkable and strange towers . Hamburg: Verlag Friedrich Oetinger, 2002. ISBN 978-3-7891-1961-3

Web links

Commons : Towers  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikiquote: Tower  - Quotes
Wiktionary: Tower  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Gabi Meier, Adriano Boschetti-Maradi: Ring walls and towers. Sign of power . In: AS. Archeology Switzerland 2, Volume 36 (2013), SS 38–42; here: p. 38.
  2. corner tower ,