Leaning on the 12th century church of St. Eloi, this tremendous passage was constructed in the 13th century. The vault and the bays were refurnished in the 15th century, while the ironwork and the clock date from the 17th century. The belfry of the old hôtel de ville, it stored the town's armaments. Until the Liberation, at the end of the second world war, the clock announced all of the important events, fires, and even the beginning of the grape harvest!
I was quite unprepaired for this sight. Just walking along the Cours Victor Hugo, enjoying the facades of the buildings and looking at city life in general. And then you look into a sidestreet and encounter this..
It seems this belfry is the remainder of the old city hall.
The "Grosse Cloche" is one of the few monuments which have been preserved from the Middle Ages, though with quite some alterations. Like Porte Cailhau, it is also squeezed between the surrounding buildings, but impressive nonetheless. Two towers of 40m enclose the "cloche", the bell, which weighs 7,800kg. There is also a finely crafted clockwork. In former times, the "Grosse Cloche" was used as a kind of watchtower. An inscription in French reads the following:
"J'appelle aux armes. J'annonce les jours. Je donne les heures. Je chasse l'orage. Je son les fêtes. Je crie à l'incendie."
In English this would be: "I call to arms. I announce the days. I give the hours. I chase away the thunderstorms. I toll during the festivities. I scream during a fire."
Grosse Cloche: In the XIII century there was Saint Eloi gate, where pilgrims used to pass on their way to Saint James of Compostela. It was originally made of four rounded towers linked to each other, to which other two were added later. In XV century the complex was again modified, since the tower bell was added. Until XVIII other changes were made. The last one was the clock, added in 1759 to replace the old one dating back to 1567.
Grosse Cloche (Great Bell), which used to be the bell of the Town Hall's belfry. Currently the Town Hall is elsewhere, but the bell is still one of the symbols of Bordeaux.