6 Things to Know About Bern’s Zytglogge Clock Tower

A visit to the Zytglogge clock tower in Bern will leave you stunned with the elaborate hourly performance. The exterior design of the clock tower itself is highly appealing; the vintage architecture combined with the intricate mechanism of the clock make this clock tower an iconic structure in all of Bern.

Your visit to Bern, Switzerland is incomplete without watching the spectacular,  mechanically-timed hourly performances. Book one of our tour packages for Europe from India at http://www.tourient.com/holiday-packages/Jewels-of-Europe_30-jun-19 and explore the iconic landmark tower with us.

These interesting facts about the Zytglogge clock tower are sure to compel you to pay a visit:   

1) A blast from the past: The Zytglogge clock tower is a beloved memento of the past; the structure was built during the early 13th century. The tower has undergone many renovations over 800 years of its existence. It is now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.  


2) The clock tower inspired Albert Einstein: Yes, it’s true, Einstein formed the theory of relativity by imagining a scene by looking at the clock tower. He imagined what would happen if a race car passed by the tower in the speed of light. He came to the conclusion that if he was sitting in the car, his clock would be ticking while the time at the clock tower would have come to a halt.

3) Not just a clock tower: When the structure was initially built, it served as Bern’s gate tower for the city’s western fortifications during the 1220s. The structure was later converted to a women’s prison during 1344-1346.

The tower suffered great structural damage in 1405 as it burnt out. After the prison cells were abandoned, the first clock was installed in the tower. Due to the change of purpose of the tower, its interior has undergone a number of changes over time.

4) 15th-century astronomical clock: The Zytglogge clock tower houses a 15th-century astronomical clock which is one of its biggest features. The clock itself is a mechanical wonder; apart from showing time, it also shows the month, date, zodiac signs, time of the sunrise and sunset, and the stage of the moon. On the inside of the clock tower, a structure about the size of a walk-in closet holds the gears that operate the intricate mechanism and power the multiple dials of the clock.

5) The clock faces dominate the facades of the tower: The massive and elaborate clock faces give the east and west facades of the tower a distinct look. The eastern clock face is embellished with golden numerals while the western clock face features the fresco painting ‘Beginning of Time.’

6) The tower’s clockwork doesn’t support leap days

Although the clockwork of the tower is intricate, it doesn’t support leap days. As such, the calendar of the clock has to be manually reset on every leap year.

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