Essential Travel Experience #81 – Climb a Tower

   Towers are wonderful things. They jut into the heavens, punctuating their majesty, and they give us a “bird’s eye view” of the area below us. I am pleased that we find so many of these structures in the center of cities, or on the outskirts of an attraction. They give a different perspective on a place and are great as an introduction or orientation to a city or town.

    Come with me on a tour of towers that we have sampled in our travels. Most of them are worth the climb (although some are downright exhausting), and some even have elevators.

     Let’s begin in Venice where the Campanile (Bell Tower) of St Mark’s Basilica provides an incredible view of the rooftops of Venice and its Grand Canal and lagoon. This particular view shows the end of the Grand Canal and Santa Maria della Salute Church.

View from St Mark's Campanile

Looking in another direction, we can see some of the outer islands and the Lido (beach).

Lagoon & Beyond

 Staying in Italy, San Gimignano is known for its towers, a symbol of wealth and power in the pre-unification era. The tallest, Torre Grossa, was a considerable climb but the view was fantastic. This photo shows the Tuscan landscape outside the city.

Torre Grossa View of Tuscany

while this one, below, shows the central piazza (square) of town, the Piazza Cisterna.

Piazza Cisterna

Siena’s City Hall, on the famous Piazza del Campo, has a very tall tower.

City Hall

In Prague, the Powder Tower doubles as a gate into the Old Town.

Powder Tower, Prague

The most famous tower in the world is the Eiffel Tower, the Paris landmark that ushered in the world’s facination with skyscrapers.

Eiffel Tower

Rothenburg’s towers are part of the ancient fortifications and there are several of them around the city.

Sieber's Tower, Rothenburg

St Stephen’s Tower is the location of Big Ben, the giant clock on London’s Parliament Building that is so recognizable.

St Stephen's Tower & Big Ben

In China, the older cities typically contain a Bell Tower and a Drum Tower, part of the city’s defenses. Thus, there is still a tower at the southern end of Tiananmen Square and the city of Xi’an has both a drum tower

Drum Tower, Xi'an

and a bell tower.

Bell Tower, Xi'an

There are so many towers that it would be ridiculous to show them all, but they are fun places and provide unique perspectives on a city or town..

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