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14 of the World's Most Famous Towers

 Towers have been constructed by man for millennia, but some have become far more well-known than others. This is due to their age, architectural features, height or even historical significance. They were often built as watchtowers as part of defensive walls, however their uses have changed over time. Here are the 14 most famous towers in the world:
14. Axum Stelae
Date built: 300-500 AD 
Location: Axum, Ethiopia
The former seat of the Aksumite Empire is home to a series of tower-like monuments known as stelae. The tallest one is 79 feet high, and was built for King Ezana. Yet another stele was removed by the Italian army during the Second World War, but has been returned and reinstalled in recent years. The stelae are believed to be funerary monuments for Axum’s ancient rulers.
13. Galata Tower
Date built: 1348 
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
This medieval stone tower is one of the most striking landmarks in Istanbul, towering some 220 feet high over the surrounding buildings. It features a conical-shaped top, and dominates the surrounding skyline. The fortification is actually Genoese, built during the time when Constantinople (now Istanbul) was a Genoese colony. You can enjoy spectacular views of the Bosphorus Strait from the restaurant and café at the top.
12. Svanetian Towers
Date built: 800-900 AD 
Location: Svaneti, Georgia
In the remote northern Georgian province of Svaneti lie a series of towers that were built as defenses against northern tribes and avalanches. Each Svan family, as the people that inhabit the region are known, had its own tower as a safe retreat in the event of an attack. The oldest of the towers is some 1,200 years old.
11. The Two Towers of Bologna
Date built: 1109-1119
Location: Bologna, Italy 
During their heyday, there were up to 180 tall towers dotting Bologna’s skyline, however, only about 20 still stand today. The two most famous extant towers are the Asinelli Tower, which stands some 318 feet high, and the 157-foot-high Garisenda Tower. The latter tower was once 196 feet high, but its height was lowered during the 14th century for safety reasons.
10. Minaret of Jam
Date built: 1101-1200
Location: Jam, Afghanistan
This beautiful minaret was once part of a mosque that was constructed back in the 12th century. The mosque no longer exists, because it was washed away in a flash-flood. In addition, any remaining traces of it were destroyed by Mongol invaders some time later. It’s actually a miracle that the Minaret of Jam is still standing in light of the events that took place in the area.
9. Belem Tower
Date built: 1515-1519
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
This tower was built during the early 16th century as part of a defensive system to protect the Portuguese capital. Many Portuguese explorers at the height of the Portuguese Empire would use the tower as a starting point for their navigation as they set about discovering new lands and trade routes.
8. Qutb Minar
Date built: 1192
Location: Delhi, India
This minar was commissioned by the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, Qutb al-Din Aybak, in 1193. It was inspired by the Minaret of Jam, which you saw further up on this list. Sadly, only the base was completed at the time of his death. Successive rulers continued the minar’s construction, and it was eventually completed in 1386. It stands some 237 feet high, and has 379 steps leading to the top. It’s the tallest brick minaret in the world.
7. Three Pagodas
Date built: 824-840 AD (central tower); 10th century (side towers)
Location: Dali, China 
Having endured several catastrophes, both natural and man-made, these three pagodas remain some of the best-preserved Buddhist structures in China. The middle pagoda is the oldest, and was built during the reign of King Quan Fengyou. It stands some 227 feet high. The flanking pagodas are each 140 feet high.
6. CN Tower
Date built: 1973-1976
Location: Toronto, Canada
The CN Tower in Downtown Toronto is arguably Canada’s most recognizable structure. The 1,815-foot-high tower was the tallest freestanding structure in the world for no less than 32 years until its height was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa.  
5. Spiral Minaret
Date built: 848-852 AD
Location: Samarra, Iraq
The Spiral Minaret is part of one of the world’s largest mosques, namely the Great Mosque of Samarra. It was originally connected to the mosque by a bridge, but that no longer exists. It’s actually unique in terms of its design when compared to other minarets, and that’s because it has a spiral conical shape. It stands some 162 feet high.
4. San Gimignano Towers
Date built: 11th and 13th centuries
Location: San Gimignano, Italy
Located in the rolling hills of Tuscany, the village of San Gimignano is nicknamed the “medieval Manhattan” thanks to its 14 stone towers that still stand today. At the height of the village’s wealth and power, there were more than 70 towers constructed to defend it from attacks. It eventually declined, and the towers started to fall or were demolished.
3. Big Ben
Date built: 1859
Location: Westminster, London, United Kingdom 
Big Ben, the world’s most famous clock tower, will turn 150 years old next year. If you’re wondering who or what Big Ben is, it isn’t actually the clock tower itself, but the gigantic 13-ton bell that’s contained inside it. The bell gets its name from the man who first ordered it, Sir Benjamin Hall.
2. Leaning Tower of Pisa
Date built: 1173-1372 
Location: Pisa, Italy
It soon became evident that there were problems with Pisa Tower, because it wasn’t long before it began to sink into the ground due to a poorly-laid foundation. In fact, it was left alone for the better part of a century before construction was resumed. Engineers found a solution by building the upper floors with one side taller than the other to compensate for the tilt. If you were wondering, it’s 296 steps to the top.
1. Eiffel Tower
Date built: 1887-1889
Location: Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous landmarks in the world bar none. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel to be the entrance for the International Exhibition of Paris, which took place in 1889. Standing nearly 1,000 feet high, it was the tallest tower in the world until 1930, when the construction of New York City’s Chrysler Building was completed. More than 200 million people have visited the Eiffel Tower since its construction, making it the most visited monument in the world.
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