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Zytglogge Clock Tower BernIt is the most recognized landmark of Bern and has a place in the history of science and the universe. Every day at 4 minutes before the hour, tourists visitors to Bern gather below the famous tower clock, the Zytglogge Clock, to watch its colorful glockenspiel mechanism of twirling bears and medieval figures, leading to the striking of the bell by the Greek god of time, Chronos. This daily ritual which has been an attraction in the Swiss capital since the 15th Century. And it was while riding on a city tram on his way home from work at th the Bern patent office that Albert Einstein looked back at the receding clock and imagined what would happen if he were traveling at the speed of light.

Astronomical Clock Face and Glockenspeil BernThe medieval clock tower of Bern was built around 1218 as a watchtower. It was used as a prison for a time for woman convicted of having sex with priests, called Pfaffendirnen. The current glockenspiel mechanism was added around 1530, designed by Bern master clockmaker, Kasper Bruner. To cast the clockworks, he built a forge inside the tower itself which still remains. The clock works are still to this day wound by hand and powered by the weight of a pendulum. The Bern Zytglogge Clock has two faces, the main time clock and an astronomical clock, showing the movements of the zodiac against the turning of the Earth represented by the black night sky, the dark blue of dawn and the powder blue sky of day, with sky crisscrossed by golden lines of the horizon and the tropics. The gold bell striker (jacquemart) stands high in the cupola, swinging his mallet on the hour.

You can join the crowds below the tower to catch the hourly show or if you want a closer look. A guided tour of the inside of the Zytglogge Clock, meets at the clock at 2:30pm every day. The tour lasts just under and hour and cost 15 CHF for adults and 7.50 CHF for children.

Clock Tour

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