In 1901, Sultan Abdul Hamid II commissioned over 70 clock towers to be built all over the empire in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of his accession to the throne. These clock towers were indeed built all over the city, both as beautiful monuments in and of themselves and also as a way to create an official timepiece for each city (this being an era before cheap wristwatches or, better yet, before hand-held phones which we use today. 😊 )
Many of these clock towers are now symbols of the city and are some of the more iconic monuments throughout Turkey. Let’s go through the most beautiful of them – which is your favorite?
İzmir Clock Tower
The clock towers built for Sultan Abdul Hamid II were meant to be placed in the middle of the city's most central location, and Izmir's glorious clock tower is no exception. Right in the middle of Konak Square sits this sleek, stately tower, built by Grand Vizier Sait Pasha in 1901. It's now one of the most famous buildings in the city and possibly the number one destination for selfies in Izmir.
The square itself is lovely, with birds all around to be fed, and it's one of the primary meeting spots for people coming from disparate parts to walk in the downtown. The clock itself was a gift from German emperor Wilhelm II, and it's only stopped running once when an earthquake in 1974 hit, though it was quickly repaired and has told perfect time for over a century since it was built.
Anatolia's First Clock Tower - The Safranbolu Clock Tower
This clock tower comes with a fun story attached. In 1798, Grand Vizier Izzet Mehmed Pasha, who was from Safranbolu, told his local townspeople that he would provide each of them with two clocks, one for their homes and one for where they worked. They were overjoyed. Then, he built a 12-meter-tall tower on a till overlooking the city and the townspeople woke up one morning to the sounds of the clock chiming that it was morning. The tower can be seen from everywhere in the town - both from any home and any place of work.
The clock still chimes every half hour and is one of the older still-working clock towers anywhere in the world. The clock itself was built in London and brought over by Izzet Mehmed Pasha himself.
Erzurum Clock Tower - Tepsi Minare
One of the earliest works belonging to the Saltukid Dynasty in Erzurm, this clock tower was original built as a minaret in the 12th century, call the Tepsi Minaret. It was part of Erzurum Castle, and the spot from where the call to prayer was made. It was damaged in the Crimean War and in 1877 it received a clock from England and was turned into the clock tower you see today. The castle itself which houses it was built during the Byzantine era in the 5th century, though the original fortifications may be much older than that.
Yozgat Clock Tower
Yozgat's clock tower is located right in the middle of the city center, in Republic Square. It was built by Mayor Tevfikzade Ahmet Bey in 1908. It's made of cut stone and features six tiers with a balcony, and is covered with a small dome. Four clocks face out in four directions, telling the time for the whole city from whichever direction you are facing.
Dolmabahçe Clock Tower
Dolmabahçe Clock Tower is located right inside the grounds of the Ottoman palace of Dolmabahçe. It was built, as with so many other clock towers in Turkey, by Sultan Abdul Hamid II, between 1890 and 1895. It overlooks the Bosphorus and its white marble practically glistens off the water in the sunlight, making it one of the highlights of a trip to the palace. The clock was built in France by a well-known clock-maker, and the numbering on the clock face has been done in stylized Arabic numerals.