Clock Tower, Bern

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  • Astronomical clock
    Astronomical clock
    by slothtraveller
  • Zytglogge and coat of arms
    Zytglogge and coat of arms
    by slothtraveller
  • West front facade
    West front facade
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    Zytglogge

    by slothtraveller Updated May 13, 2013

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    Zytglogge and coat of arms
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    The Zytglogge (or Zeitglockenturm) is a beautifully ornate clock tower in the city centre. It has become Bern's most prominent landmark and is a must-see on any visit to the Swiss capital. The clock tower features an astronomical clock with figures that move when the clock chimes.
    The clock tower dates back to the early 13th century and the astronomical clock dates from the 15th century. It can be found at the entrance to Bern's Old Town.
    Make sure you see the two clock faces on the eastern and western sides of the tower. Both are quite different.

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    Zeitglockenturm (Zytglogge)

    by Odiseya Written Nov 5, 2012
    Zytglogge

    Zeitglockenturm (Zytglogge) is famous landmark and most recognisable symbols of Bern.
    Since early 13th century, it has served the city as guard tower, prison, clock tower, center of urban life and civic memorial. It is a heritage site of national significance] and part of the Old City of Bern, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

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    Astronomical Clock Tower - Zytglogge

    by Mikebb Updated Apr 25, 2011

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    Zytglogge Clock Tower - Old Town Bern
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    Walking along the Old Town streets you can see and hear the clock. A masterpiece of craftmanship it dominates from the top end of a very beautiful street.

    The astronomical clock was first mentioned in the city accounts of 1444 when it had to be repainted. It therefore dates from the early 15th century and presumably belonged to the first original move-ment (soon after 1405). The clock tower has 6 floors, although we did not enter the web link (Virtual Tour) has photos.

    Well worth being in front of the clock on the hour!

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    Zytglogge-Turm

    by globetrott Updated Dec 20, 2010

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    Zytglogge - Turm is one of the most famous sights of Bern. This tower was once a gate of the medieval townwall and the tower dates back to the year 1191. In 1530 the clock was added and there is also an astronomical clock from the 15th century below it.
    Come to Zytgloggeturm shortly before the full hour and you will see some of the sculptures moving a bit.

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    Zytglogge

    by Sjalen Written Nov 16, 2010

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    Zytglogge is simply Swiss German for what would otherwise be known as "Zeitglocke" to German speakers, or time bell to English speakers, meaning a clock striking with the help of a hammer on a bell. In a country known for its clocks, this is one of the most famous. In Bern, it is also a meeting point since it is smack bang in the centre of the Old Town and easy to find. The clock itself is from 1530 and in housed a sturdy tower in a location which was Bern's western city gate as far back as 1191 with its first tower in the 1220s, so coming here really means stepping back in history even if today you are surrounded by trams and trolley-buses. The clock was long used as the measurement of time to different places in the Canton even if the city had outgrown its walls already by the time the clock came into existance. Below it is an even older astronomical clock from the 15th century which is also fascinating. The technical details for both are on the homepage below in case that sort of thing interest you. If it is just the outside you care about, any guided tour of the city takes in the clock but you will easily find it yourself when strolling around. Come here a few minutes before the hour and you will experience the bell ringing along with a whole lot of other tourists.

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    Back in Medieval times

    by jorgec25 Written Mar 8, 2010

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    The Clock tower was one of the first city gates of Bern. The astronomical calendar, gorgeous, is dated from the 15 Th century.

    Located in the centre of the old town, it' s a sight that we go back to over and over again. And every time we stop and stare at its beauty.

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    Some Other Facts About Zytglogge

    by riorich55 Updated Apr 17, 2009

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    A Close Up View of  Zytglogge
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    Having read about the clock tower Zytglogge (pronounced tseet-klok-uh), on Swiss travel sites and other VT reviews we started to gather around the clock for some pictures and videos about 10 minutes before the hour (the little clock show start at 4 minutes before the hour). Don't expect a Disneylike display and razzle dazzle and take into consideration that this show has been going on since 1530 and you might appreciate this display a little more.

    In the 4 minute show, things move slow through the top of the hour. There is a little display of a crowing cock, a parade of bears, a knight, a piper, a lion, Chronos with his hourglass and a dancing jester.

    The clock is both the benchmark of official Bern time and the point at which all distances in the canton are measured. The name Zyglogge is Bernese German and transalates to Zeitglocke in Standard German or "Time Bell" in English.

    The original tower was constructed partly in wood in 1218-20 and was destroyed by a fire in 1405 and at some time the tower was converted into a prison for prostitutes who made a living servicing the clergy (I'm not making this up, as this information comes from the official website).

    "Below the clock is a very inticate astronomical and astrological device, which, in one small diameter, displays a 24 hour clock, the twelve hours of daylight, the position of the sun in the zodiac, the day of the week, the date and the month, the phases of the moon and the elevation of the sun above the horizon throughout the year."

    And You Thought This Was Just A Very Uninspiring Clock?

    Look closely at the pictures and you may see some of what has been mentioned.

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  • VDElvis's Profile Photo

    See the famous clock tower (or don't!)

    by VDElvis Written Dec 20, 2007

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    The clock tower from atop the cathedral
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    The clock tower in Bern is a city landmark. It's very nice to look at, but really that doesn't last for that long. It is just a clock afterall. Every hour at 4 minutes to the hour, it starts a little "show", which is basically is like what you would see on a cuckoo clock, only a lot bigger. This is something to check out if you are in the area, but if you're not, don't worry about it.

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    Zytgloggeturm (clock tower)

    by Dabs Updated Sep 17, 2007

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    Clock tower
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    "Is that it?" I asked in a rather impatient tone of voice, had I really run all the way across town to see that? Don't fret too much if you don't happen to catch the "show" at 4 minutes before the hour.

    The clock tower is listed as one of the things you have to see in Bern, at 4 minutes before the hour, tourists gather to watch the bears go round, the cock crow and the little gold man on the top clang a bell. If you happen to be in the area by all means go have a look but should you happen to miss it, I don't think it was worth sticking around for an extra hour or jogging across town.

    The clock tower was built in the 12th century, renovated in the 16th century, the "show" has been running since 1530.

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    Zytglogge

    by hojasdehierba Written Mar 9, 2006

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    Zytglogge

    Perhaps the most well-known attraction in Bern, along with the fountains, of course, it was built in XIIth century as the western gate of the city, although it was soon replace by the Kafigturm. Burnt in 1405, it was rebuilt and it was later appointed to serve as a women prison. The astronomical clock was added in XVIth century by Caspar Brunner. Several mechanical figures of animals began to move towards the sphere four minutes before the hour.

    Quizas la atraccion turistica mas famosa de Berna, junto con sus fuentes, por supuesto, fue construido en el siglo XII para servir de puerta occidental a la ciudad, aunque fue pronto reemplazada por la Kafigturm. Sufrio un incendio en 1405, pero fue reconstruido y mas tarde destinado a carcel de mujeres. El reloj astronomico fue anhadido en el siglo XVI. Varias figuras mecanicas de animales empiezan a moverse hacia la esfera cuatro minutos antes de dar la hora en punto.

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    Musical Clock in the pedestrian zone

    by royalempress Updated Feb 4, 2005

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    This clock tower, Zytgloggeturm is located in Bern's oldest bulding. The mightly clock tower was built in 1191. Every hour a delightful group of mechanical figures performs a puppet show. Be sure and be there early to view the show as the crowds build before each performance.

    The clock is only a block from the hotel

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    The Clock Tower

    by Polly74 Written Feb 4, 2005

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    The Clock Tower

    An imposing presence at the centre of the old town, the Clock Tower, is as much the symbol of Bern as the bear.

    The tower was originally constructed partly in wood as the westernmost city gate in 1218–20, but by 1256 the city walls had moved west to the Käfigturm; the stranded tower was then converted into a prison for those prostitutes who made a living servicing the clergy. The devastating fire of 1405 razed the tower and it was rebuilt in stone with a new, squat design, a turreted staircase to one side (still used today) and a clock mechanism. The clock soon broke and stayed broken for 122 years until one Caspar Brunner designed an intricate and elegant new mechanism which has functioned since he installed it in 1530, and which is still complete with nearly all its original parts. Below the main east face of the clock is an intricate astronomical and astrological device, which, in one small diameter, displays a 24-hour clock, the twelve hours of daylight, the position of the sun in the zodiac, the day of the week, the date and the month, the phases of the moon and the elevation of the sun above the horizon throughout the year, everything kept accurate by linkage to the main clock mechanism. The external appearance of the Zytglogge as it is today dates from Baroque embellishments of 1770–71.

    The main draw of the thing is generally touted to be a rather underwhelming little display of mechanical figures – a crowing cock, a parade of bears, Chronos with his hourglass and a dancing jester – which is set into motion four minutes before every hour on the clock’s east face. What’s far more interesting is to see close-up (and have explained) the actual inner workings of the mechanism as the pendulum swings and linked cogs turn gracefully. It’s possible to go inside only as part of the tourist office’s exemplary and fascinating one-hour guided tour, which also lets you explore the rooms inside the spire and take in the romantic rooftop view.

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  • Rhondaj's Profile Photo

    Astronomische Uhr---Astronomical clock

    by Rhondaj Written Nov 14, 2004

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    Astronomical clock

    At four minutes before each hour a little mechanical display happens. It's not much, and doesn't last long, but if you're in the area, check it out. The clock itself is worth a look minus the crowing of the rooster...

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  • edmas's Profile Photo

    Clock Tower

    by edmas Written Nov 12, 2004
    Clock Tower

    The Clock Tower is a beautiful structure and definitely captivating to look at. You would easily find yourself standing there to admire the workmanship while anticipating some movements and music at the hour. The clock has a few main parts. The top is the clock, the bottom part seems to be keeping track of the star signs or moon calendar. On the right side to the lower clock, there are some figures which will move at the hour. However, the movement is small, so concentrate as you might miss it. Not as "wow" as you would thought, but considering this was built a long time ago, it is definitely worth admiring.

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  • upthemountain's Profile Photo

    Zytglogge: beautiful but not worth waiting for

    by upthemountain Written Jan 15, 2004

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    The Zytglogge, or clock tower, in the center of Bern is a major landmark and meeting place. It is a beautiful old tower with an interesting face (can you tell what time it is without a minute hand?). You can tour the inner workings during the summer, which is worth doing.

    But every hour, just before 4 minutes before the hour, you can see hourdes of tourists with cameras crowded around the east face waiting for the mechanical display.... this display is not worth waiting for. Not even if its 6 minutes before the hour. If you happen to be there at 4 minutes before the hour, I suppose its worth a glance upwards.....

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