Almost all historical minarets in Turkey were constructed using cut stone, masonry blocks or combination of these two materials. The structural and geometrical properties of each masonry minaret, or slender tower structure, depend on many factors including the structural knowledge and applications at the time of construction, experience of the architect or engineer, seismicity of the region, and availability of construction materials in that area. Recent earthquakes in Turkey have shown that most masonry minarets in high seismic regions are vulnerable to structural damage and collapse. In this study, in order to investigate the dynamic behavior of historical unreinforced masonry minarets, three representative minarets with 20, 25, and 30 m height were modeled and analyzed using two ground motions recorded during the 1999 Kocaeli and Duzce, Turkey earthquakes. The modal analyses of the models have shown that the structural periods and the overall structural response are influenced by the minaret height and spectral characteristics of the input motion. The dynamic displacement and axial stress time histories are computed at the critical points on the minarets. During recent earthquakes, most minaret failures occurred above the base of the structure. Consistent with the observed response, the largest stresses were calculated at the same location. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.