A clock tower with a turret clock on one or more of its faces, is a common sight in almost all parts of the world. They used to be built in the centres of towns and cities to help people know the time, as early as in the 18th century, because at that time, owning personal clocks or watches was not a common practice. Today, the magnificent clock towers around the world serve as iconic landmarks. The earliest of clock towers had sundials. Gradually came the astronomical clock towers and then the turret clock towers. Let us take a look at 10 magnificent clock towers around the world.
10. Tower of the Winds
The Tower of the Winds is located in the Roman Agora of Athens. It is an octagonal clock tower, made of Pentelic marble. In fact, it is the earliest clock tower, supposedly constructed around 50 BC, by Andronicus of Cyrrhus, though many sources also claim that it was built in the 2nd century BC. The 12m. tower features eight sundials, and has a water clock in the interior. It also has a wind vane.
The Rathaus-Glockenspiel is located in Marienplatz, Munich, and is a major tourist attraction. It is a part of the New Town Hall, installed during its second construction phase in 1908. It has 32 life-sized figures that come to life every day at 11 am, and at 12pm and 5 pm during summers, re-enacting two stories from the 16th century, after which, a small rooster chirps thrice, just like a co-coo clock.
8. Prague Astronomical Clock Tower
The Prague astronomical clock, called the Prague Orloj, is installed on the southern wall of Old Town City Hall in Prague, Czech Republic. Mounted in 1410, it is the world’s oldest astronomical clock in a working condition, and the third oldest of all astronomical clocks, with a dial representing positions of the sun and moon, and other details, a calendar dial, and the hourly show of Apostle figures.
7. Minneapolis City Hall
Minneapolis City Hall and Hennepin County Courthouse is located in Minnesota, and is the main building used by the city government of Minneapolis, as well as Hennepin County. Its tower claims to have the largest four-faced chiming clock, with faces of 7.5m. each. A 15-bell chime is regularly played. At 105m. tall, the clock tower once used to be the tallest structure of the city until 1920.
6. NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building
The NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building is located in Shibuya, in Tokyo, Japan. With a 15-m. diameter clock installed to the building, it is a perfect example of a modern day clock tower. At a height of 240m., it is one of the world’s tallest clock towers. There are lights featured in the upper part of the tower to indicate weather forecasts, as well as in the clock hands and the numbers on the dial of the clock.
The Zytglogge tower is located in Bern, Switzerland, and is a landmark medieval tower which wa built in the 13th century as a prison, guard tower, civic memorial and centre of urban life, besides being a clock tower. It has undergone several redecorations, but, because of its astronomical clock, it is still a recognizable heritage symbol of Bern. It is, in fact, a UNECO World Cultural Heritage site.
4. Allen-Bradley Clock Tower
The Allen-Bradley Clock Tower is on the Rockwell Automation Headquarters located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the research and office addition of the Allen-Bradley Company. The Guinness Book of World Records describes it as the largest four-faced clock, aside from being a tallest non-chiming clock tower with four faces, as it stands at a height of 86.26m. from the streets of Milwaukee.
3. Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower
The Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower is located in Chancellor’s court at the University of Birmingham in suburban Edgbaston. Commonly called the Old Joe, its height is variously recorded as 110m. and 99m. by the college, as well as 100m according to other sources. Yet, it is the world’s tallest free-standing clock tower, which making it a magnificent clock towers around the world.
2. Elizabeth Tower
The Elizabeth Tower is located in London at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. Despite the official name, it is reputed throughout the world as the Big Ben, even though only the bell inside is named Big Ben. As the tallest chiming clock tower in the world at 96m. tall, with the second largest chiming clock, it is a prominent symbol of the UK, and a popular part of establishing shots in films.
1. Abraj Al-Bait Tower
Abraj Al-Bait Towers is located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, meters away from the Masjid al-Haram, the largest mosque in the world, and is also called the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower. It is a megatall building complex, owned by the government. They are a part of the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project. At 601m., it is the tallest clock tower in the world, as well as the world’s largest clock face.
There are many other magnificent clock towers around the world. Another iconic clock tower in the making is the Federation Tower in Moscow, Russia, featuring the highest digital clock in the world. These towers, and many more, are sightseeing objects, and recognizable representatives of the place where they stand, to the entire world.