When we speak of a tower, what pops up in our mind immediately? A tall and slender structure, with a height more that its width, often characterized by different aspects of history.
But why are tourists attracted to towers? Why do towers hold such an importance in the advent of tourism?
It is important to research a bit on this to know the answer.
Towers were first built by man in prehistoric times, to provide a wide field of view or just for beautification.
Later civilizations built watchtowers in the form of fortifications as a high, safe ground from where a guard could observe the surroundings.
In the entire Anno Dominiera, all sorts of towers have been built which includes bell towers, clock towers, service towers, communication towers and minarets.
These diverse backgrounds of towers are what gives tourists a unique point of view about them. One can visit a tower to marvel at the beautiful construction and the history behind it, or at the height and the view that makes us all feel giddy.
Towers have also played a significant role in fairtales and classis… like the tall tower without doors or stairs where Rapunzel was trapped, or the clock tower that struck mignight in Cinderella’s tale, or in the bell tower that was home to Quasimodo in ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’.
The gown-ups, this gives an added fancy for towers and they visit places looking for them.
Given the importance of towers in tourism, I thought of listing the most important ones for the readers of Touriosity. Here is a list of the most important towers across the globe that are popular tourist attractions and that must be visited at least once in a lifetime.
Obelisk of Axum, Aksum, Ethiopia
The Obelisk of Axum, located in Axum (now called Aksum), Ethiopia was built in the 4th century AD (making it 1700 years old) by Kind Ezana of Axum in an attempt to solidify the kingdom’s conversion to Christianity.
It is a 24 metre tall (79 feet) granite stele/obelisk, weighting 160 tonnes. This obelisk was damaged by an earthquake most likely in the 16th century, and was left there in ruins for hundreds of years.
Finally, it was rediscovered by Italian soliders in 1935 during a conquest of Ethiopia. The 160 tonne stele was taken back to Rome as loot, where it was reassembled. But after World War II the United Nations directed that the obelisk must be returned to its original owner Ethiopia, which led to a lot of complications.
After years of conflict and procedural delays, the stele was finally returned to its rightful location in Ethiopia, where it stands till today.
Some people believe that the obelisk is a funeral monument and that the tombs of ancient rulers of Axum lay beneath it.
Althought technically not really a tower, the Obelisk of Axum because of its sheer historical significance and structural magnificence deserves to be included in this list.
Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkey
The Galata Tower (locally known as Galata Kulesi in Turkish language), earlier called Christea Turris (the Tower of Christ in Latin) by the Genoese people when Istanbul was a colony of Genoa, is a medieval stone tower in the Galata or the Karakoy quarter of Istanbul in Turkey, and is strategically located to the north of the meeting point of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Strait.
The structure of the tower is cylindrical, with a conical cap, and because of its height (66.9 metre / 219.5 feet) it provides a panoramic view of Istanbul’s historic peninsula and its sceneries.
This original Romanesque style tower at this location was built in 1348 AD during an expansion of the Genoese colony in Constantinople. The tower was heavily damaged due to an earthquake that occurred in 1509 AD, but luckily, could be restored by the famous Ottoman architect, Hayreddin.
The Galata Tower, that was initially built to replace the old Tower of Galata, an original Byzantine tower named Megalos Pyrgos (Great Tower), was used as a prison and a fire tower during the Ottoman era under the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
The tower was again destroyed, this time by a fire, in 1794 AD vut it was restored during the reign of Sultan Selim III, when a cumba was also added to the beauty of the tower.
After the destruction caused by yet another fire in 1831 AD, the tower was restored once more, along with the addition of two more floors and a conical shaped top, under the orders of Sultan Mahmut.
Historically, the tower has been quite significant and has been destroyed again and again and rebuilt each time with further modifications that went on increasing its beauty.
Today, the Galata tower serves as an important touristic attraction of the city of Istanbul, and provides a 360 degree view of the city from the balcony.
An elevator is built to take visitors up seven floors, but the last two floor are only accessible through stairs.
Svan Towers, Svaneti Georgia
Svan towers are the tower houses built as defensive dwellings, mostly found in the Georgian historical region of Svaneti.
These tower houses are today found in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region in Georgia.
The oldest tower houses date back to the 8th or 9th century, and the newest was built in the 18th century.
A Svan tower has an average height of 20 to 25 meters and has four to six floors, the latter being very rare. The towers were living quarters, fortresses of defense, and personal treasures to the Svans, a sub group of ethnic Georgians who practiced blood revenge, spoke their own Svan language and were the traditional gatekeepers of mountain passes.
It is interesting to note that each individual hose in Svaneti region was fortified separately as a result of dwellings being too scattered to have a boundary wall surrounding them all.
This has definitely resulted in one of the most unique tourist attractions in the country now.