The World’s Weirdest Towers


Picture above is the Zizkov Television Tower in Praugue. Not even Orwell could come up with something as disturbing as this 700-foot-tall broadcasting needle, which was undeniably striking when it opened in 1992. (Its three metallic pillars support nine pod-like protuberances and three decks for transmitting equipment.) But when local artist David Cerny attached a bevy of faceless baby sculptures to the tower’s pillars in 2000, it caused quite a stir. One year later, the babies were removed — and then residents of the Czech capital clamoured for the sculptures to be returned.. So, back up they went, and to this day they send shivers up the spines of sightseers. (MSN News, Getty Images: Tim E White)


Puffer fish tower, China
Maybe it’s time to replace the idiom “white elephant” with the more topical “copper puffer fish.” After all, the 15-story viewing tower that opened late last year on an island in Yangzhong county has become emblematic of the controversy surrounding China’s bizarre and extravagant state investments. Comprised of 8,920 copper plates, the fishy tower cost nearly $12 million USD to build. (RTR: CHINA STRINGER NETWORK)


Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang, North Korea
Oh, those heady days in 1987 when construction began on what was billed as the world’s tallest hotel. Fast-forward 26 years, and this 105-story pyramid-shaped skyscraper still has yet to open in the capital of an impoverished totalitarian state, owing to repeated construction delays and funding shortfalls. Indeed, spending $750 million USD on a hotel at a time when much of North Korea’s population is starving — and tourism isn’t exactly booming — makes the Ryugyong look like one of the biggest copper puffer fishes (a.k.a. white elephants) of all time. (AP Photo: Koryo Group)


Corn water tower, Rochester, Minnesota
A giant peach. A giant bottle of ketchup. A giant watermelon. A giant … you get the idea. This list could be comprised solely of water towers that have been fashioned to resemble items for which their locations are famous. Of the dozens of fine examples around the world (but mainly in the United States), the most perfect one rises above a Seneca Foods processing plant in Rochester, Minnesota (where they get through a lot of sweet corn). The 190,000 liter tank is about 65 feet high and shaped exactly like an ear of corn, and it’s even illuminated at night by a ring of spotlights. (Wikipedia: jonathunder)


Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
The 840-year-old bell tower that rises nearly 184 feet above Pisa’s cathedral square gets a fair amount of attention thanks to its tiered Romanesque arches, white marble cladding and seven enormous bells. But would more than a million people visit the structure each year if it was not tilted four degrees to the southeast? It’s hardly surprising that the true identity of the tower’s architect is in dispute — who would want to admit to building on ground that’s too soft to support the structure’s weight? Fact is, the “leaning” in its name represents its biggest selling point, making the tower not just strange to behold, but also a monument to incompetencen. (Getty Images: Luis Davilla)


San Gimignano towers, Italy
If Pisa’s famous tower is a monument to incompetence, then the 14 towers topping this medieval hill town in Tuscany are monuments to, well, the jury is still out on that. It could be ambition: At one point, as many as 76 of the brick buildings loomed over San Gimignano, each a symbol of its builder’s prosperity and influence. It could be practicality: During the town’s medieval heyday, they were used as lookouts for spotting invaders. But it could be something else. If you see this kind of one-upmanship as symbolic, then “my tower is bigger than your tower” starts to sound decidedly Freudian. (Getty Images: Chris Mellor)


Genex Tower, Belgrade, Serbia
George Orwell fans, take note: Few real structures evoke the totalitarian dystopia of Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four like this 35-story skyscraper. Cited as a prime example of Brutalist architecture — the hideous, concrete-heavy style favoured by Soviet Europe in the mid-20th century — the Genex Tower is one of the first notable structures visitors see on their way into the Serbian capital from the airport. So, instead of “Welcome to Belgrade,” the message conveyed is more like “Big Brother is watching you.” It’s also popular with base jumpers. (Reuters: Marko Djurica)


Pigeon towers, Libya, Iran and Egypt
Dotted across the landscape in Iran, Egypt and — as in this picture from Gaddafi’s compound in 2011 — Libya, are these elegant, mysterious mud-brick structures dotted with a complex series of holes and wooden perches. The purpose of these marvellous and often ancient castles? To house pigeons. The best examples are found in Iran, where in the 16th and 17th century the creatures now commonly referred to as ‘”rats with wings'” were a valuable resource, due to the usefulness of their droppings as a natural fertilizer. The towers were constructed in order to harvest nature’s bounty. (Reuters: Goran Tomasevic)


Nikolai Sutyagin’s house, Arkhangelsk, Russia
Forget Orwell — this is more like something Tim Burton would concoct. This 13-story hodgepodge of two-by-fours and shingles looms over the city of Arkhangelsk in Russia’s far northwest, and is thought to be the world’s tallest wooden house. Built by one-time gangster Nikolai Sutyagin over the course of 15 years , the structure looks like something out of “Edward Scissorhands.” But neighbours are not amused: The place is apparently falling down — what with its owner being jailed for racketeering — and the city is threatening to demolish the structure because it’s a fire hazard. (Rex Features: Dmitry Beliakov)


Klimwand Climbing Tower, Wunderland Kalkar, Germany
When asked about their weekends, visitors to this amusement park north of Dusseldorf can offer a unique reply: “Oh, we spent some of Saturday in and around the cooling tower of a former nuclear power station.” This would have been an extremely bad idea 20 years ago when the plant was operational, but these days it looks like a lot of fun. There’s a colourful climbing wall on the outside of the tower, and a rotating swing ride occupies its interior. The park assures visitors that no radiation remains, but packing some lead-lined underwear can’t hurt, right? (RTR: INA FASSBENDER)

Credits MSN News

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