Half tower

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Half tower in the town walls of Freiburg im Üechtland
The Porte d'Orange in Carpentras, a town gate built as a half tower

A half tower (sometimes half-tower) or open tower[1] (German: Schalenturm, Halbschalenturm or Schanzturm) is a fortified stone tower in an external wall or castle enceinte that is open, or only lightly constructed, at the rear. Towers of this type were used, for example, in city walls. City gates can also be incorporated into a type of half tower.


Unlike closed towers, which were fully enclosed by walls, half towers were open on the inside, typically the side facing the city or the inner bailey of a castle. On this side a wooden railing was constructed on the individual floors in order to stop people or objects from falling off. Sometimes the open side was sealed with wooden planking or weaker timber framed walls. Towers that are fully open at the top and rear may be called open towers, whilst those which are only open on the lower floors (i.e. the top floor is walled and roofed) may be described as "partially open towers".[1]

The majority of half towers were semi-circular in plan, but there were also some with a rectangular plan.


Semi-circular half towers

City or town wall towers

Rectangular half towers

Town wall towers in


  1. 1.0 1.1 Kaufmann, J.E. and Kaufmann, H.W. (2001). The Medieval Fortress. Castles, Forts and Walled Cities of the Middle Ages, Da Capo, Cambridge, MA, p. 27. ISBN 978-0-306-81358-0.


  • Carl Rhoen (1894) (in German), Die Befestigungswerke der freien Reichsstadt Aachen, Aachen: Verlag von Anton Creutzer, pp. 18f  (Online version, pdf, 6.61MB)

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