Towers of Bologna: the skyscrapers of the 12th century?

KorbenDallas

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#1
Another interesting medieval story comes from the Italian city of Bologna. Apparently 800-900 years ago the citizens of Bologna enjoyed building tall towers. Between the 12th and the 13th century, the number of towers in the city was very high, possibly up to 180. The reasons for the construction of so many towers are not clear. One hypothesis is that the richest families used them for offensive/defensive purposes during the period of the Investiture Controversy.

During the 13th century, many towers were taken down or demolished, and others simply collapsed. Many towers have subsequently been utilized in one way or the other: as prison, city tower, shop or residential building. The last demolitions took place during the 20th century, according to an ambitious, but retrospectively unfortunate, restructuring plan for the city. The Artenisi Tower and the Riccadonna Tower at the Mercato di mezzo were demolished in 1917.

bologna_1.jpg

NOTE: is this a 12th century photograph?

Of the numerous towers originally present, fewer than twenty can still be seen today. The most famous are
  • the Azzoguidi Tower, also called Altabella (with a height of 61 m)
  • the Prendiparte Tower, called Coronata (60 m)
  • the Scappi Tower (39 m)
  • Uguzzoni Tower (32 m)
  • Guidozagni Tower
  • Galluzzi Tower
  • the Asinelli Tower (97 m)
  • Garisenda Tower (48 m)
List of the still existing towers
  • Accursi Tower (Torre Accursi or Torre dell'orologio) - P.zza Maggiore
  • Agresti Tower (Torre Agresti) - P.zza Galileo
  • Alberici Tower (Torre Alberici) - Via S. Stefano - P.zza della Mercanzia
  • Arengo Tower (Torre dell'Arengo) - Piazza Maggiore
  • Asinelli Tower (Torre degli Asinelli) - Piazza Ravegnana
  • Azzoguidi Tower (Torre Azzoguidi or Torre Altabella) - Via Altabella
  • Bertolotti-Clarissimi Tower (Torre Bertolotti-Clarissimi) - Via Farini
  • Carrari Tower (Torre Carrari) - Via Marchesana
  • Catalani Tower (Torre Catalani) - Vicolo Spirito Santo
  • Conoscenti Tower (Torre Conoscenti) - Via Manzoni
  • Galluzzi Tower (Torre Galluzzi) - Corte Galluzzi
  • Garisenda Tower (Torre Garisenda) - Piazza Ravegnana
  • Ghisilieri Tower (Torre Ghisilieri) - Via Nazario Sauro
  • Guidozagni Tower (Torre Guidozagni) - Via Albiroli
  • Lambertini Tower (Torre Lambertini) - Piazza Re Enzo
  • Lapi Tower (Torre Lapi) - Via IV Novembre
  • Oseletti Tower (Torre Oseletti) - Strada Maggiore
  • Prendiparte Tower (Torre Prendiparte or Torre Coronata)
  • Scappi Tower (Torre Scappi) - Via Indipendenza
  • Toschi Tower (Torre Toschi) - P.zza Minghetti dietro Casa Policardi
  • Uguzzoni Tower (Torre Uguzzoni)' - Vicolo Mandria
Contemporary Tower Images

bologna_2.jpg bologna_10.jpg bologna_11.jpg bologna_13.jpg bologna_12.jpg bologna_14.jpg
bologna_15.jpg bologna_16.jpg bologna_19.jpg bologna_17.jpg bologna_18.jpg

Mockup of the medieval city of Bologna

bologna_mockup_city_12_century.jpg bologna_mockup_city_12_century_1.jpg bologna_mockup_city_12_century_2.JPG

* * * * *
It appears the exact time of the construction of the above towers is not known. Based on the available info, they had to be built during, or prior to the 12th century. The towers were, and some still are, pretty massive. The reasons for construction of these structures is also unknown, bar the speculative competition one. Most of the towers were taken down during the 13th century. This website here titled it, "Sketch of Bologna Towers in the Middle Ages"

A couple of questions:
  • What do you think these towers were built for?
  • The first image of the topic. If it is not a photograph, than what is it? An easy answer would be the mockup they used to recreate the scenery. But if it indeed was a mockup, than why do we have such a poor quality, and only one available image?
Bologna_Towers_3.jpg

Sources:
 

anotherlayer

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#2
ah yes, Bologna, here is another one off a wall. my wife picked up this etching (c.1750) in Bologna years ago and it's always a fascinating study.

IMG_20180712_010655.jpg

NOTE: is this a 12th century photograph?
has to be. there are no other artist angles I can find that resemble this viewpoint but, maybe not entirely the strangest situation. notice how all the towers have 3 cuts/windows/slats at the top? sup with that?

not for defense, that's just dumb. did they wear helmets for swimming too?

i have always felt Bologna was built upon a star fort. you can see the angles from an aerial. so... are these chimneys for something?

Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 1.19.18 AM.png
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#3
notice how all the towers have 3 cuts/windows/slats at the top? sup with that?
No clue. May be they were mounting electricity producing wind mills up there. JK.

The below 1856 book says that they got no clue what the purpose of the towers was as well. But their speculative opinion sounds like this
The Towers of Bologna were probably erected by private families, as places of refuge during the civil wars and feuds that so long desolated Italy. The small republics were at war with each other, or with the German Emperors; every city was distracted by the furious Guelph and Ghibelline factions; and every street, frequently every family, divided against itself.
bologna_towers_book_1.png bologna_towers_book_2.png bologna_towers_book_3.png

Also we have some dates, which I would not rely on, for we have no clue where the information is really coming from.
The taller of these Towers was built A. D. 1109. It has little external beauty, but rewards the traveller for a tedious ascent of 500 steps, by an extensive view of the surrounding country, including the cities of Ferrara and Modena. The smaller of the two, called the Tower of the Garisendi, is immortalised by Dante, who compares it to the stooping Antams. It is about 150 feet in height, and deviates seven or eight feet from the plumb-line.
*** Guelphs and Ghibellines - were factions supporting the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, respectively, in the Italian city-states of central and northern Italy. During the 12th and 13th centuries, rivalry between these two parties formed a particularly important aspect of the internal politics of medieval Italy. The struggle for power between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire had arisen with the Investiture Controversy, which began in 1075 and ended with the Concordat of Worms in 1122. The division between the Guelphs and Ghibellines in Italy, however, fueled by the imperial Great Interregnum, persisted until the 15th century.

Guelph_vs_Ghibelline.png
And this book here states, that the taller of the two remaining towers used to be 476 feet (145 meeters) tall in 1100.
 

ISeenItFirst

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#6
There can be no doubt!

Lol. Wonder what the ground/soil types are and where the frost line is there. I'm not an engineer, but I've had a primer on ground types as it relates to foundations. These would have a concentrated load and need beefy foundations. Looks like they did have some type of decent foundation at the very least judging by what is visible above ground.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#7
This stuff makes me shake my head:

View attachment 4395

we have no doubt, even though it's completely baseless! but, no doubt.

what if these were flutes? what if the wind passing through created power from sound? no doubt!
No doubt, this is how our entire history is written. Next thing, some contemporary “scholar” will reference this 1856 book in his school textbook.
 

humanoidlord

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#8
is this a 12th century photograph?
hmmm i don't think so, maybe one from the 19nth century?
as for bologna i wonder.... could this be a failed atmospheric eletricity experiment?

ah yes, Bologna, here is another one off a wall. my wife picked up this etching (c.1750) in Bologna years ago and it's always a fascinating study.

hmmmm look at all those church towers, are you thinking what i am tinking?
 

CyborgNinja

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#9
Guelphs and Ghibellines - were factions supporting the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor
So you have the Holy Roman Empire on one side which I'm sure is Tartary and the Papal states on the other. Was this the conflict that resulted in Pope Constantine taking power and converting the Roman Empire from Pagan to Christian? Ignoring dates and just linking events here.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#10
hmmm i don't think so, maybe one from the 19nth century?
They got destroyed like 500 years prior to the 19th century.

So you have the Holy Roman Empire on one side which I'm sure is Tartary and the Papal states on the other. Was this the conflict that resulted in Pope Constantine taking power and converting the Roman Empire from Pagan to Christian? Ignoring dates and just linking events here.
Makes sense. But then everything gets screwed chronologically, lol.
 
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PrincepAugus

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#12
now that i look back at the image it does look like a model of some sort, i am pretty sure a 12th century photo would never survive the purge
Whoa, 12th century?! That's a stretch, even for me since the first photography appeared in the early 1820s. We're talking hundreds of years apart, from Medieval to the Early Modern period.

I would think that the towers weren't the mainstream "defense" hypothesis. I mean given the look, it looks nothing like any military or defensive structure, as they are too tall. Which makes them vulnerable to catapults and trebuchets.

I would think that they're one of the most advanced city that has built skyscrapers for civilian use. That is more plausible and more interesting to me lol.

Also Wikipedia has a new image posted by an original artist here:
 
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wizz33

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#16
how do connect a large space ship to a building?
with a lift shaft and robot arms.

i think pillars on the second and third floor serve the same function
 

PrincepAugus

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#17
how do connect a large space ship to a building?
with a lift shaft and robot arms.

i think pillars on the second and third floor serve the same function
No, that's still far-fetched. Besides, the towers are too close together. My early residential/business skyscrapers hypothesis still is more likely.

EDIT: Made the picture I've posted above visible.
 
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PrincepAugus

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#19
what about the Tibetan "wach towers" in Qiang?
Oh wow, more stone skyscrapers?! We should make a new thread for this. I have many theories I want to expand on. As with the earthquake resistance, advanced building techniques like how modern skyscrapers are earthquake resistant too.
 
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