These Astronomical Clocks Were a Wonder of the Medieval World
Advanced Imaging Reveals a Computer 1,500 Years Ahead of Its Time
X-rays and advanced photography have uncovered the true complexity of the mysterious Antikythera mechanism, a device so astonishing that its Astronomical clocks are over 1,000 years old — some say the first was the mysterious Antikythera Mechanism. They predict the movements of the stars, sun, moon, and planets. They are also among the most beautifully-designed timepieces in the world. Here are some of the most glorious examples.
The Horologium miracle Lundense in Lund, Sweden constructed in 1380s, moved into storage in 1837, but restored and put back in 1923.
The upper board is the astronomical clock and the lower is the calendar that could help to calculate when mobile religious holidays will fall, among others.
The Wells Cathedral Clock in Wells, England. Its mechanism was made in the late 1380s or early 1390s, but was replaced in the 19th century and moved to a museum, where it still operates.
SEXPAND The dial of the inside clock shows the geocentric view of the universe, where the Earth is in the center and Sun moves around that. The Sun is really moving on the clock face. It takes 24 hours to go around.
The Gros Horloge in Rouen, Normandy, France. The movement was made by Jourdain del Leche and Jean de Felain in 1389. A facade was added in 1529 after the movement’s moving to its current place.
It shows the phases of moon in an oculus and the week days with allegorical works of art at the base. The whole mechanism was electrified in the 1920s.
Prague astronomical clock (or Prague orloj), mounted on the wall of Old Town City in Prague, Czech Republic. It’s the oldest still working intact example of its kind.
The astronomical dial and the mechanical clock was made and installed in 1410. Around 1490 a calendar dial was added and the whole structure was decorated with Gothic sculptured.
The clock was improved with the Walk of the Apostles and other moving statues in the 17th century and after a major repair in 1865-1866. A present-day calendar was constructed in 1870.
The Zygtlogge tower with the 15th-century astronomical clock in Bern, Switzerland.
The tower and the clock was extended in the late 15th century, and the clockwork was completely rebuilt by Kaspar Brunner between 1527 and 1530. The structure has two clock faces.
The Rostock astronomical clock in St. Mary’s Church, Rostock, Germany, built in 1472 by Hans Düringer.
Its calendar is valid until 2017. The clock also has an apostle-go-round performance just like the Prague one.
St Mark’s Clock on the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy, built between 1496 and 1499 by Gian Paolo Rainieri and his son Gian Carlo. After two major restorations the clock mechanism was almost completely replaced in the 1750s, by Bartolomeo Ferracina.
The post of the clock-keeper was filled by the Rainieri family until 1998.
The world’s largest astronomical clock on the Torrazzo of Cremona, the oldest still standing brick structure taller than 100 m (328 ft), stands in Cremona, Italy.
The mechanism of the clock was built by Francesco and Giovan Battista Divizioli between 1583 and 1588.
Strasbourg astronomical clock in the Cathédrale Notre-Dame of Strasbourg, France. The actual clock was built between 1838 and 1843 by Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué who replaced the previous one from the 16th century that stood there for 50 years after stopped working in 1788.
The new clock contains probably the first perpetual mechanical Gregorian computus, designed by Schwilgué in 1816, an orrery (planetary dial) a display of the real position of the Sun and the Moon, and solar and lunar eclipses.
The clock in Besançon Cathedral, Besançon, France, made and installed in 1860 by Auguste-Lucien Vérité, but some works were continued on it for three more years.
The mechanism has 30,000 parts, 21 automated figures and animated pictures.
Zimmer tower (also known as the Cornelius tower) in Lier, Belgium.The tower was originally a keep, a fortified tower of the city, built in the early 15th century.
The clock named Jubelklok (Anniversary Clock) was made by Louis Zimmer in 1928 and it has 12 small clocks encircling a central one.