Tower houses began to appear in the Middle Ages, especially in mountain or limited access areas, in order to command and defend strategic points with reduced forces. At the same time, they were also used as a noble’s residence, around which a castleton was often constructed.
After their initial appearance in Ireland, Scotland, Basque Country and England during the High Middle Ages, tower houses were also built in other parts of western Europe as early as the late 14th century, especially in parts of France and Italy. In Italian medieval communes, tower houses were increasingly built by the local barons as powerhouses during the inner strifes.
Tower houses are very commonly found in northern Spain, especially in the Basque Country, some of them dating back to the 8th century. They were mainly used as noble residences able to provide shelter against several enemies, starting with the Visigoths, the Arabs and then petty medieval wars. However, due to complex legal charters, not many of them had boroughs attached to them, and that is why they are usually found standing alone in some defensive spot, not typically a high position but a crossroad. Some of them survived well into the modern era, being even used as country residences by their traditional noble owners; for instance, Saint Ignatius of Loyola was born in one of them, still standing.
The Yemeni city of Shibam has hundreds of tower houses which were the tallest in the world. There are also, for instance, numerous examples of tower houses in Georgia in the Caucasus, where there was a clanlike social structure (surviving here into the 19th or even 20th century) in a country where fierce competition over limited natural resources led to chronic feuding between neighbours. One theory suggests that private towerlike structures proliferate in areas where central authority is weak, leading to a need for a status symbol incorporating private defences against small-scale attacks.
This intriguing tower house slopes from 21 feet interior diameter at ground level to 13 feet diameter at the upper deck. The observation deck has a covered hatch, and room enough for a table with 4 chairs and a lounge chair. Perfect for environments with high winds and good views. 346 sq. ft. interior first floor, 227 sq. ft. upper floor, 133 sq. ft. observation deck, 623 sq. ft. total interior; footprint: 24′ diameter.
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