Timeless Beauties: 7 Clock Towers That Show More Than Time
There was a time when not everyone had a watch. So, civic authorities built clock towers for common citizens to know the time of the day. It was not only wake-up calls that they rang or weather conditions that they predicted – they did far more than that. They stood at the centre of commercial set-ups and in the middle of political powerhouses. Today, clock towers stand as a classic example of things that were once a necessity but have now become part of a nation's heritage and infrastructural brilliance.
MakaanIQ lists seven iconic clock towers around the world that define the city they stand in:
Tower of the Winds, Athens
A structure that has inspired architecture across the world since being built in 50 BC (there is a difference of opinion on the timing), the Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes, or the Tower of The Winds, is a combination of sundials, water clock and weather vane. In his attempt to give the people a monument that would inform them about time and weather movements, the architect created this 12-metre-tall magnificent structure, topped with a Triton that has stood the test of time and weather, literally. The tower, which saw many replications and imitations around the world, has been undergoing renovation since 2014.
Spasskaya Tower, Moscow
There was a time when you had to be part of the top official machinery of the country to be able to pass through the entrance; you would be expected to let go off your headgear while doing so. This was becuase the Spasskaya Tower is part of Kremlin walls. Despite undergoing many changes since being built in 1491, this structure, with its clock referred to as Kremlin Chimes, still dictates the official time in Moscow. The 71-metre-tall Tower, built by Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solari, is among the specimens of Russia's architectural heritage.
Elizabeth Tower, London (Big Ben)
When a fire destroyed the Westminster Palace in 1834 and Sir Charles Berry took up the job to revive it, part of his plan included adding the Elizabeth Tower. To achieve this, Berry included Augustus Pugin in his scheme of things and the result was this tower, depicting the Gothic Revival style, Pugin's favourite theme. Standing as part of an iconic building in an iconic city, the Big Ben, as the clock is fondly called, is the second-largest four-faced chiming clock in the world after the Minneapolis City hall. While Hollywood is quite frequent in shooting this tower while showing London, the Elizabeth Tower is a towering landmark of Europe.
The Zytglogge Tower, Bern
Not listing a clock tower from a nation that is a pioneer of producing the machinery might be unpardonable. The Zytglogge Tower, a structure that defines the city of Bern, Switzerland, was built during the 13th century, and the astronomical clock was inserted in it in 1530. Listed among Unesco's World Cultural Heritage Sites, the tower displays late-Baroque elements in its exterior; while the clock's dial is framed by a fresco produced by Viktor Surbek in 1930.
St Mark's Clocktower, Venice
A look at St Mark's Clocktower in the old city of Venice in Piazza San Marco will tell you why they say Rome was not built in a day. A classic example of the Venetian Renaissance architecture, the tower was built in the last decade of the 15th century by Mauro Codussi. On top of the tower are two bronze human figures constructed by Paolo Ranieri. They strike the bell to mark an hour. That is not all that these figures represent. One with an old and the other with a young look also represent more about time than just representing time. The tower has seen several alterations, including the clock mechanism, from time to time.
Peace Tower, Ottawa
A part of the country's Parliament complex, the Peace Tower replaced the Victoria Tower, which was destroyed in a fire in 1916. Designed by French- Canadian architect Jean-Omer Marchand, along with Toronto-based architect John A Pearson, the 99.2-metre bell tower was earlier known as the Tower of Victory and Peace and is part of Canada's old heritage. His grand work earned Marchand the title of the most accomplished architect of his time in Canada.
Makkah Royal Clock Tower, Mecca
This one is a perfect example of 'pilgrims' progress'. This government-owned tower, Abrar al-Bait, was built in Mecca to equip the ancient city to manage the traffic of pilgrims better, after the demolition of an 18th century fort. Lying only metres away from Masjid al-Haram, the world's largest mosque, the tower has the world's largest clock face. Built at an estimated cost of $15 billion, it took nine years (from 2004 to 2012) for the tower to be completed. With its mix of large praying areas and fancy shopping malls, the tower is a grand portrait of Saudi Arabia's spiritual and commercial progress.