Clock Towers: An Ottoman Heritage from the Balkans to the Middle East

One of the most important architectural heritage left by the Ottoman's cities are the clock towers that extends from the Balkans to the Middle East.

Clock Towers: An Ottoman Heritage from the Balkans to the Middle East

Ottoman Heritage from the Balkans to the Middle East


One of the most important architectural heritage left by the Ottoman's cities are the clock towers that extends from the Balkans to the Middle East.


The clock towers, which are symbols to adorn the cities, began to be seen on the Balkan lands in the Ottoman states in the 16th century. Built in 1577 in Sarajevo, the Ferhat Pasa Mosque Clock Tower and Skopje Clock Tower was of this century.


The quantity of the clock towers, entering the Ottomans' everyday life in the late 16th century, have started to increase in town and cities in the 18th and 19th century. The spread of the clock towers increased with the Ottomans modernisation. As well as the scenery of the city it also symbolised the meeting of the public with the government.


The clock towers, most of them in Turkey built in the period of Sultan Abdülaziz and Abdülhamit II, had a important role of as well as a reminder of the time it was a meeting point for the public. In the Ottoman Empire, from Anatolia to Damascus, 63 clock towers were built.


With the 25th anniversary of Abdülhamid Han II to the throne, most of them survived until today and some demolished due to natural causes and time period so decorated the postcards and photos, the instruction to build clock towers all around the empire was given. The clock towers also draw attention with its stories.




The most known clock towers in Istanbul; Dolmabahce and Yildiz clock towers. Also Sisli Etfal  Hospital and Tophane Nusretiye, the restorations are continuing. The clock tower at the entrance of  Dolmabahce Palace was stated to be built with the command of Sultan Abdülhamid II in the year 1890 and completed in 1895. The tower is the design of architect of the palace Sarkis Balyan, it contains the traces of neo-baroque and empire style.


The tower has 27 metres of height and surrounded with 12 metres of square platform. On the land and sea sides of the Dolmabahce clock tower displays the tugra (signature) of Abdulhamit Han II, the tower is climbed using stone steps and the clock room is located on the fourth floor.




Also called Yildiz clock tower, Hamidiye clock tower was built in the years 1889-1890. Consisting of three floors, one floor has thermometer and the other has barometer. Having an octagonal shape the clock tower's roof is fancy with a wind turbine on top.




Located in Izmir Konak Sqaure, Izmir clock tower is considered to be one of the city's landmark. It stands out with it's different aesthetic within the Ottoman clock towers. Some of the parts of the Izmir clock tower is brought from abroad, in order to be completed before the 25th anniversary of Abdulhamit II sitting on throne. Looking like a jewellery with 25 metre  s of height, marble domed fountains and 68 pillars with 4 entrances. The clock tower lightened up in 1985, has a Ottoman emblem and tuğra of Abdülhamit Han. The clock tower today has an electronic system.


With the history dating back to 200 BC, repaired in different periods, the clock tower is positioned on the left bastion of the fortress door of the Ankara Castle, it contains a single dial. With the arrangements made the surroundings became more tourist attractive. On the inscription of the Ankara Clock Tower it is written that it has been built in 1884 by Sırrı Paşa, the governor of Ankara.




The Bursa clock tower is in the Tophane Park which is on the north of the tomb of Osman Gazi and Orhan Gazi, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. Also known as “Tophane clock tower”, the tower was opened on the 30th anniversary of Abdulhamit II sitting on the throne. Today, instead of the original clock an electronic clock is installed to the tower. The tower is also being used as a fire watching tower by the borough of Bursa.


Turkey's largest clock tower is in the town of Adana Seyhan. The big 35 metre   high clock tower built by Ziya Pasa, the governor of Adana, is functioning today. The clock tower of Safranbolu, which is in the World Heritage List of UNESCO was built by Izzet Mehmet Pasa, the Grand Vizier of Sultan Selim II. The clock tower is 12 metres tall and is the only clock in Turkey to not have a spring in it.




While some clock towers are standing with its glory until today like the ones in Erzurum, Amasya, Eskisehir, Trabzon and Kayseri, some because of fire, earthquake or change of the city arrangements continues to live with its memories on the prints for example like Amasya, Edirne, Gelibolu, Konya, Kutahya and Manisa.




One of the countries where the Ottoman Empire left the heritage of clock towers is Macedonia. The clock tower of the monastery known for its outstanding example of the Ottoman architecture has been repaired many times so far. The 22-metre tall tower is in harmony with the architecture of the city.


Many cities in Macedonia are hosts of these historical clock towers. In the 16th century, one of the first examples that come to the mind of Skopje clock towers built during the Ottoman period in Balkans is the Gostivar clock tower which gives its name to the rising mosque beside it.




Famous with its historical and architectural buildings, Bitola is a city in Macedonia which also hosts a clock tower dating from the Ottoman Empire. The tower is 22 metres tall with each edge rising on a base of 5.5 metres width.


Repaired many times over the years, the bell part of the clock tower was changed in 1935. The base of the tower, rises up in three stages. The top section is surrounded by a balcony with four clocks. The original clock of the tower was changed during the 2nd world war. It is unknown where the original clock with white background and black figures is.




The clock tower where appointments are given, with children running around in the garden, the unchanged background image of the souvenir photo is in harmony with the architecture of the city. The clock tower is in the busiest and most famous street of Bitola, with the naem in the Ottoman period “Hamidiye” and now called Sirok street.


However the Bitola clock tower also faced the deliberate destructions in the Balkans for the work dating from the Ottoman period. As seen on the other clock towers in the other cities of Macedonia, on this clock tower a cross was erected and the structure is changed into a religious object. In front of the clock tower being one of the symbols of the city is a statue rising in memory of the Macedonians died at the civil conflict in 2001. The sculptures of the Macedonian folk heroes are located it the garden of it.


According to a narration, 60 thousand eggs were collected from the surrounding villages for the mortar of the clock tower. The Bitola clock tower continues to decorate the Bitola skies together with the historical mosque minarets surrounding it.




The clock towers inherited by Kosovo from the Ottomans, are rising in the capital, Pristina and Prizren. After the war, the Ottoman heritage in Kosovo went under a rapid transformation and restored to its old glory.


Being one of famous buildings in the capital Pristina, it features traces of Ottoman architecture. Tower, opposite the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Mosque, is located in the heart of the city. The stones used in the architecture of the clock tower built by Yasar Pasa in 1746 stands out. The clock tower of which the bell was stolen in 2001 is visited by the tourist frequently.




The local people are waiting for the Pristina clock tower, which challenged centuries, to be repaired because of deterioration brought by time. The Pristina clock tower was built by the Ottoman  governor Ahmet Semseddin Bey in the year 1498 and it is located in the building used as a museum  today.


The clock tower added in the 15th century, it is said that the building was used as a bath until the 19th century. The museum where the clock tower is, hosts pieces from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Luan Kocbasli, the museum manager, spoke about the clock tower saying:




“Prizren clock tower is also known as the archaeological Museum by the locals. After the first restoration in 1975, the clock tower was converted into a museum and pieces removed from the underground is on display here. Although the structure is repaired the former glory of it remains. We tried not to disrupt the historical look of it.”


Destroyed completely in 2003 for the archaeological excavations, the building was rebuilt according to the original in 2008. The restoration of the Prizren clock tower and the Archaeological museum was completed last year. In Prezrin, decorated with historical work, the tower and the museum continues to hold light to the long history.




The Tirana clock tower, built in 1821 by Haci Ethem Bey, is one of the symbols of Tirana, the capital of Albania. When the tower was built the clock mechanism was brought from Venice and was ringing every hour.

Although replaced by the German made clock by Tirana Council in 1928, the clock added to the tower made in China in 1970 is still in use today. Finally, during the period of mayor Edi Rama the clock tower was restored and lightened up, the Tirana clock tower is catching attention of tourist together with the Ethem Bey Mosque.




With stone houses, cobbled streets and natural beauty, an clock tower is also resisting time in the important city of Albania, Gjirokastra. The tower is part of the Gjirokastra Castle, although not clear when the tower was built the historians say it was built in the ottoman period to calculate the prayer times. The castle and the clock tower takes it's visitors for a tour in the history.


One of the historical works Albania's third largest city Elbasan hosts is the clock tower located in the centre of the city. Built in the 16th century and protecting the authenticity until today the tower is a must see in Elbasan. Inherited from the Ottoman period the clock tower is one of Elbasan's icons.




The Ottoman Empire in almost every important cities in the Balkans, built clock towers. One of those cities is the city of Shumen. Built in 1790 the clock tower reminds the Shumen locals the time.


In front of the clock tower built by Mehmet Doducuoglu, a inlaid stone fountain is present. On the marble inscription of the tower, “The craftsman who built this clock tower has proved its greatness and uniqueness of his work that there is not alike of it in the world”, is written.




One of the heritage buildings left from the Ottoman empire to Deliorman is the clock tower in Razgrad. Built in 1864 the clock tower bears the characteristics of the Tanzimat period. Taking status of the Bulgarian National Cultural Monument in 1984, is the symbol of Razgrad.


Rising on the stone body of 25 metre tall, the tower has a wooden bell dome. The tower was built in 1767, when collapsed in 1864 a new one was built instead of it. It is thought that the tower's dome is the original dome left from the Bulgarian craftsmen Tonco Toncev who built the clock tower first.


With the parks located around it decorating the Razgrad Square the clock tower is one of the  meeting points of the city.




One of the oldest Arab cities in Palestine is Jaffa, is hosting the Ottoman heritage monuments. The clock tower in the city centre of Jaffa is the most important symbol of the city today. Jaffa clock tower, one of the seven clock towers built during the Ottoman period in Palestine, reveals the importance of the city to the Ottomans.


Located on the Yefat main street, Jaffa clock tower, was built to celebrate the 30th year of  Sultan Abdulhamit and has his tugra on it. Limestone is used for the construction of the clock tower. The clock tower restored in 1965, as well as new clocks, mosaics representing the history of the city is added.



From the old Palestinian cities, Akka, Haifa, Nazareth, Jerusalem and Nablus, Jaffa clock tower is the best preserved and is challenging time. 




Lebanon, has two clock towers built during the Ottoman period. One of them is in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon and the other one is located in the countries second largest city, Tripoli. In the civil war and conflict the clock towers received their share of damage and was repaired the later years, have been the silent witnesses of the First World War and the events after it.




Lebanon is hosting two clock towers from the Ottomans. The first one is built in 1897 by the people of Beirut as a gift to Sultan Abdulhamid II for him valuing the city. The first stone of the clock tower was placed on the birthday of the Sultan. It was built for the dedication of the 25th anniversary of Abdulhamid II sitting on the throne.


Tripoli's monuments preservation committee chairman Khalid Tedmur in relation to the clock tower in the city has said: “The inhabitants of Beirut based on their love they have for Abdulhamid Han have decided to build a clock tower. It has been planned to build the clock tower square between Hamidiye Military Hospital and Mecidiye Barracks. This is because these two buildings are located on the top of the hill overlooking Beirut. The construction of the clock tower there was going to carry the sound of the clock to all of the city.


Standing for over a century the cock tower, has been highly damaged in the civil war which devastated the city. After the end of the civil war in 1990, the clock was faithfully to the originality repaired by the prime minister at the time Refik Hariri.


The other clock tower in the city is located in Tripoli. It is the present of Abdulhamid II to the public for the 25th anniversary of his enthronement. It also got damaged by the civil war and conflict. With the restoration done in 2006 the stopped clock of it has started to work again.     

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Ekim 2015, 20:07