Last edited 12 Apr 2021



The correct definition of 'tower' is a type of structure that is tall in proportion to the size of its base, often by a considerable margin. A tower is different from a tall building in that it is not built for habitation or for work, but serves other functions, primarily achieved by its height. However, towers may be intended for regular human access, for example as an observation platform.

Despite this, the term 'tower' is also sometimes applied to tall buildings, such as Trump Tower, Almas Tower, Princess Tower, Sea Sand Tower, and so on, and in the UK, high-rise residential buildings are often referred to as ‘tower blocks’.

Pure towers tend to be free-standing, self-supporting structures that do not use guy-wires (unlike masts). They can however be built attached to a building (such as a church tower or clock tower) or a wall (such as a watchtower).

The form of towers generally tapers upwards to ensure the load of the material at height can be supported by the structure below. They must also have sufficient stiffness to avoid buckling under applied loads such as heavy winds.

Historically, towers tended to be used for defensive or military purposes, and the term could be used to refer to an entire fortress, such as the Tower of London. The Romanesque and Gothic periods incorporated towers within the design of churches and cathedrals, sometimes with a spire or a flat roof. Towers were also commonly built onto prominent structures with clocks, such as town halls and other public buildings.

The development of structural steel as a framing device in the late-19th and early-20th centuries enabled towers to be built much taller, most notably, the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Other types of tower include; cooling towers, water towers, communications towers, and so on.

Some of the most famous towers in the world include:

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