Tower house

A residential tower is a tower which is set to a permanent use as a dwelling.

Construction and delimitation

The concept of the residential tower is used in the medieval architecture in contrast to that of the defense tower, where towers could combine both functions together. The transition between residential tower and strength building is fluid. The distinguishing criterion is simply the ratio between height and width of the building, thereby surpassing the height of a tower its width, and its diameter. They had a fortification value due to their solid construction and their height and were therefore often part of a castle. However, since they also had to meet stately residential and state needs at the same time, they possessed often relatively expensive interior fittings were heated and could also include a hall-like room. Unlike uninhabited or only temporarily for housing equipped towers they were created as a dwelling place. A castle with a residential tower and subordinate outbuildings is called a tower castle. A special form form towers with an uninhabited stone foundation that a habitable tower - often made ​​of wood - contributed as the Toppler.

The keep is different from the residential tower in the first place by the fact that it is not designed for residential use. The tower shaft of the keep usually has no or only a few small windows; the lower windows are, if any, is so small that an attacker can not pass easily rise. Often the guard room was the only heated room. However, the great diversity of forms of Central European castles also led to many transitional stages between the two building types, so that a clear classification is not always possible. Otto Piper spoke of the habitable Berchfrit as an intermediate stage between tower and a residential tower when a -characterized by its construction as a donjon tower was equipped with designated for residential use upper floors. Because of these different terminology, it may happen that one and the same tower in a publication as a residential tower, the other is run as a habitable keep.

For representative defensive and residential towers, particularly in France, the name is common in the Castle Donjon research. In Ireland and the UK there are so-called tower houses, where it is free-standing, well-fortified residential towers. Towers of castles, which were used as an edible house, called Muthaus.

Function and use

In the Middle Ages towers were built as a stately residence regionally and protection from enemy attacks. When individually standing buildings they could serve within cities also as a fortified noble residence. In some Italian cities such residential towers were built by citizens as so-called towers. Well-known examples are the towers of San Gimignano. The majority of the residential towers were individually standing buildings of the lower nobility. Some of the buildings were now so far restored keeping the original building proportions that they can be used again. So the tower houses of Jerusalem in Trier today the registry office, the Trier Dreikönigenhaus is again a normal house.

In southeastern Europe living tower-like building in the 19th century offered protection against roving gangs. For example, in the northern Albanian Alps, where the residential towers ( Kulla ) were also used as places of retreat for men who were threatened by the blood feud between rival families.

In the Arab world, particularly in Yemen, fortified residential towers are still in use.

Up to the present time further residential towers to be built as the core building of individual farms in the rural areas of Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tibet and northern China.

In the 20th century, water towers, which had a residential use, referred to as residential water tower. Today occasionally inhabited skyscrapers are called residential towers.



In Germany some residential towers remain, most of which are under monument protection. The oldest known residential tower is the Granusturm in Aachen, formerly part of the Aachen imperial palace of Charlemagne. It also includes the Frankenturm, the three royal house and the tower Jerusalem in Trier, or almost 1000 years old " residential tower I" of Neuchâtel in Saxony- Anhalt. Also in one of the largest castles in Germany, the Reich Kyffhausen in Thuringia, in excavations the remains of a residential tower were discovered, as well as the Julius tower of the Spandau Citadel.

Other examples are:

  • Burg Altendorf, Food
  • Battenbergturm, Haldern
  • Residential tower Benneckenbeck, Magdeburg
  • Residential tower Berneburg, Hesse
  • German Emperor, Koblenz
  • Frankenturm, Trier
  • Golden Tower, Regensburg
  • Residential Turmhofgut loams, Rhineland -Palatinate
  • Kattenturm, Food
  • Bower, Reinstädt ( Thuringia)
  • Nassau House, Nuremberg
  • Nideggen Castle at Düren
  • Residential tower Prester, Magdeburg
  • Runneburg, Weissensee ( Thuringia)
  • Stockturm ( Nienburg / Weser)
  • Residential tower Senheim, Rhineland -Palatinate


  • Bilgeriturm, Zurich
  • Ruin guarantees, Canton Bern,
  • Residential tower Chisti


  • Thurnerhof, Unterlangkampfen, Tirol


Residential towers in the Greek Vathia

Residential towers in Al Hajjara, Yemen

Kulla in the northern Albanian mountain village Theth

Battenbergturm Haldern

Map of the fortified residences in the high medieval Trier