What time is it? Check the clock tower

By September 16, 2014 No Comments


Torre dell’Orologio is the clock tower in San Marco Square on Venice and is considered the second most famous clock in the world.. It was inaugurated in 1499, making it over 500 years old. As you look at the tower you will see a wing, or building, on either side. These provided stability to the tower, but don’t house any part of the clock and are separate shops and residents. Working from the bottom up you will notice the first two floors form an archway for one of the most important streets in the town. The next two levels are the clock itself, which I will discuss in a minute. Above this you find a statue of Mary and Jesus with doorways on either side. Originally an angle and three wisemen would come out, bow, and enter the other side each hour. Now this is done only twice a year and the doorways house one of the first digital clocks, installed in 1855. The next level has a statue of a winged lion holding a book. There use to also be a statue of the Republic’s leader in 1499, but this was removed by Napoleon when he conquered the city. The top of the tower has two bronze statues on either side of the bell. One is old and one is young and one strikes the bell 2 minutes before and the other 2 minutes after the hour. Both represent the passing of time.

Venice Clock Tower


The clock face is very integrate and amazing to think they designed it 500 years ago. The other edge is a fixed ring of Roman numerals showing the 24 hour day. Notice it is noon in my photo and the indicator is straight to the right and not straight up. The minutes are determined by how far past the hour the indicator is. The next ring shows the Zodiacs and moves to show what is in the sky at that time. There is a moon on the next ring showing the phase of the moon in the sky and inside of this use to have the 5 known planets and their location in the sky. This feature was removed in 1755 due to science showing there were more and they did not revolve around the Earth, which is in the center of the clock.

Venice Clock Tower

One thing I want to let you know about is a tour of the inside of the clock tower, where you get to see the inner working of the clock, history of the tower and clock, and up close and personal with the bell and figures plus lots more. This tour is well worth the 12 Euro, but you need to buy your tickets in advance on their website.

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