Zytglogge/Clock tower, Bern, Switzerland


Bern, Kramgasse mit Zeitglockenturmc.
Publisher: G. Metz, Basel

Google Street View.

First it was a fortified guard tower, then a prison, a lookout and fire observation tower, and finally a clock tower. Over the centuries, this landmark has fulfilled different functions for the city of Bern but has always played a key role. As Bern continued to grow and expand its city limits, the former guard tower gradually found itself closer and closer to the city center. After the devastating fire of 1405, the structure was rebuilt and given a new identity. Now known as the Zytglogge (Clock Tower), it began telling time for the inhabitants of Bern. As the official timekeeper, its location could not be more central and from then on, the locals listened for it to strike the hours. The tower was also an authoritative building for other matters in the capital city. For example, official travel times were measured from the Clock Tower and marked on stones along the cantonal roads. The ancient length measurements of cubit and fathom – which are still marked today in the tower entrance as meter and double meter – served as the reference length and for official checks.
Bern.com

“Details of the Zytglogge tower in Bern, Switzerland”, Sketches by cobbler journeyman Sebastian Fischer of Ulm, 1534 (from Wikimedia Commons

When it was built around 1218–1220, the Zytglogge served as the gate tower of Bern’s western fortifications. These were erected after the city’s first westward expansion following its de facto independence from the Empire. At that time, the Zytglogge was a squat building of only 16 metres (52 ft) in height. When the rapid growth of the city and the further expansion of the fortifications (up to the Käfigturm) relegated the tower to second-line status at around 1270–1275, it was heightened by 7 metres (23 ft) to overlook the surrounding houses. Only after the city’s western defences were extended again in 1344–1346 up to the now-destroyed Christoffelturm, the Zytglogge was converted to a women’s prison, notably housing Pfaffendirnen – “priests’ whores”, women convicted of sexual relations with clerics.[4] At this time, the Zytglogge also received its first slanted roof. In the great fire of 1405, the tower burnt out completely. It suffered severe structural damage that required thorough repairs, which were not complete until after the last restoration in 1983. The prison cells were abandoned[6] and a clock was first installed above the gate in the early 15th century, probably including a simple astronomical clock and musical mechanism. This clock, together with the great bell cast in 1405, gave the Zytglogge its name, which in Bernese German means “time bell”.
. . .
The Zytglogge’s internal layout has changed over time to reflect the tower’s change of purpose from guard tower to city prison to clock tower. The thirteenth-century guard tower was not much more than a hollow shell of walls that was open towards the city in the east. Only in the fourteenth century was a layer of four storeys inserted. The rooms above the clockwork mechanism were used by the city administration for various purposes up until the late 20th century, including as archives, storerooms, as a firehose magazine and even as an air raid shelter. The interior was frequently remodelled in a careless, even vandalistic fashion; for instance, all but three of the original wooden beams supporting the intermediate floors were destroyed.
Wikipedia.

The Clock Tower (Zeitglockenturm) was Bern’s first western city gate (1191 – 1256) and formed the boundary of the first city extension. Today it is one of Bern’s most important sights. The ornate astronomical calendar clock was created in 1530. The tower clock was the city’s main clock and therefore had an authoritative function in Bern. It was from there that travel times indicated on the hour stones along the cantonal roads were measured. Length units – formerly cubit and fathom, today meter and double meter – for public inspection are displayed in the arch of the gate.
Zeitglockenturm

Photos of inside

“Kramgasse mit Zeitglockenturm und Zähringerbrunnen” (Kramgrasse with the clock tower & statue), Adolf von Graffenried, c.1830 (from Wikimedia Commons).

In 1527, the Zytglogge’s movement had broken down. A local blacksmith by the name of Kaspar Brunner who had no previous experience in horology won the construction bid to repair the movement for around 1,000 Bernese Gulden. By 1530, Brunner had completed the astronomical clock’s new movement – even adding additional new features in the process. This new movement is still being used to power the Zytglogge today, without any major breakdowns along the way! For this great mechanical feat, Brunner is remembered fondly in Bern.
Montres Publiques

A journey inside Bern’s whimsical clock tower reveals how clicking gears and dancing bears changed the meaning of time. Deep inside a medieval watchtower, Markus Marti presides over the passage of time. Several times a week in the heart of Bern, Switzerland, the retired engineer leads a small group of visitors up a twisting narrow staircase. Then, using a wooden baton as a pointer, he explains how a maze of iron parts powered by a swinging pendulum has, second by second, counted off the last half millennium.
BBC Travel

The Zähringerbrunnen (Zähringen Fountain) is a fountain on Kramgasse in the Old City of Bern, Switzerland. It is a Swiss Cultural Property of National Significance and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old City of Bern. The Zähringerbrunnen was built in 1535[2] as a memorial to the founder of Bern, Berchtold von Zähringer. The statue is a bear in full armor, with another bear cub at his feet. The bear represents the bear that, according to legend, Berchtold shot on the Aare peninsula as he was searching for a site to build a city. The armored bear carries a shield and a banner, both emblazoned with the Zähringen lion.
Wikipedia.

Torre Monumental & plaza, Buenos Aires


Buenos Aires
Plaza y Estación Retiro.
[Plaza & Retiro Station]
Dated 1921
Publisher: Z. Fumagalli, Buenos Aires

Google Street View.

Torre Monumental (Spanish for “Monumental Tower”), formerly known as Torre de los Ingleses (“Tower of the English”), is a clock tower located in the barrio (district) of Retiro in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is situated in the Plaza Fuerza Aérea Argentina (formerly Plaza Britannia) by San Martín Street and Avenida del Libertador. It was a gift from the local British community to the city in commemoration of the centennial of the May Revolution of 1810. After the Falklands War in 1982, the tower’s original name was dropped, though some still call it Torre de los Ingleses.

On September 18, 1909 the Argentine National Congress passed Law N° 6368, consisting of an offer by the British residents of Buenos Aires to erect a monumental column to commemorate the centennial of the May Revolution. Although the centenary monument was initially considered to be a column, it ultimately took the form of the clock tower. A 1910 exhibition of project proposals at the Salón del Bon Marché, today the Galerías Pacífico, resulted in the jury’s award to English architect Sir Ambrose Macdonald Poynter (1867–1923), nephew of the founder of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The tower was built by Hopkins y Gardom, with materials shipped from England such as the white Portland stone and the bricks from Stonehouse, Gloucestershire (see below). The technical personnel responsible for the construction also came from England. . . . The inauguration of the building took place on May 24, 1916 and was attended by the President of Argentina Victorino de la Plaza and British dignitaries led by the minister plenipotentiary Reginald Tower.
Wikipedia.

Gros Horloge (Big Clock), Rouen, France


ROUEN
La Grosse Horloge

The Big Clock

Google Street View.
Wikipedia

The pride of the people of Rouen, the astronomic clock lays on a Renaissance arch spanning the busy street of rue du Gros-Horloge. This popular tourist landmark in the old town of Rouen is flanked by a Gothic belfry from the 14th century.
Gros-Horloge, the pride of Rouen

Running between the Gothic cathedral made famous by Claude Monet and the old market square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake is a pedestrianised street called “Rue du Gros-Horloge”. This quaint street with many timber-framed buildings is named after Le Gros Horloge, a Renaissance clock set in an arch over the street. The clock’s movement was made in 1389, and installed in the adjacent belfry that was constructed at the same time. The bells in the belfry were the first set of municipal bells in Rouen. At this time there was no dial to the clock. With the construction of the arch between 1527 and 1529, the clock was moved to the arch and attached to two identical dials – one on each side of the arch. Each dial is about two and a half meters in diameter.

The dials are rich in astronomical symbolism. A single hand points out the hour of the day, moving over 24 golden sun-rays and encircled by a blue starry night. The phases of the moon are indicated on a small sphere directly above the dial. On the opposite side, below the hour of VI, a panel reveals the day of the week, symbolised by the god of the day: Monday is represented by the Moon, Tuesday by Mars, Wednesday by Mercury for Wednesday, Thursday by Jupiter, Venus by Friday, Saturday by Saturn and Apollo indicates Sunday.
Le Gros Horloge: Renaissance Time in Rouen

Though it’s been run by an electric mechanism since the early 20th century, the old clockwork mechanism from the 1300s is still there, in situ, and is theoretically still in good working order if it were to be hitched back up. It was one of the earliest clocks to sound bells at the quarter of the hour, not just on the hour. The two clock faces also have black and silver globes above them that display the phase of the moon.
The Great Clock of Rouen (has photos of inside of clock tower)

Sforza Castle, Milan


Milano – Torre Filarete
c.1910

Google Street View

Given its distinctive and recognisable shape, the tower, which owes its name to the architect Antonio Averulino, also known as il Filarete, has become a symbol of Milan. The tower that Averulino designed in 1452 was elegant and embellished with marble inserts, however his plans were executed by Lombard architects, who lacked the imagination of their Tuscan counterpart. Less than a century after its completion in 1521, the tower, which had been converted into a gunpowder magazine, collapsed. The current edifice is the result of a tireless study of the available documents and iconography, by Luca Beltrami, in order to reconstruct the tower as faithfully to the renaissance original as possible. Inaugurated in 1905, the Filarete tower was dedicated to King Umberto I, assassinated only 5 years earlier in Monza. Beltrami inserted a clock into the top cubic section of the tower, whose radiant sun motif was inspired by the Sforza coat of arms. In addition he commissioned Luigi Secchi to sculpt a statue of Saint Ambrose in late 14th century style for the niche, as well as a Candoglia marble bas-relief portraying Umberto I on horseback. Finally, in commemoration of the Sforza, Beltrami decided to add to the tower the painted coats of arms of Francesco, Galeazzo Maria, Gian Galeazzo, Ludovico il Moro, Massimiliano and Francesco II.
Castello Sforzesco (Official Website)