The Zytglogge tower is a
landmarkmedieval towerin Berne, Switzerland. Built in the early 13th century, it has served the city as guard tower, prison, clock tower, center of urban life and civic memorial.
Despite the many redecorations and renovations it has undergone in its 800 years of existence, the Zytglogge is one of Berne's most recognisable symbols and, with its 15th century
astronomical clock, a major tourist attraction. It is a heritage site of national significance, [ Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance(1995), p. 104.] and part of the Old City of Berne, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritagesite.
When it was built around 1218–20, [Bellwald (1983), 2.] the Zytglogge served as the gate tower of Berne's western fortifications. These were erected after the city's first westward expansion following its "de facto" independence from the Empire. At that time, the Zytglogge was a squat building of only m to ft|16 in height. When the rapid growth of the city and the further expansion of the fortifications (up to the
Käfigturm) relegated the tower to second-line status at around 1270–75, it was heightened by m to ft|7 to overlook the surrounding houses. [Bellwald (1983), 2.]
Only after the city's western defences were extended again in 1344–46 up to the now-destroyed
Christoffelturm, the Zytglogge was converted to a women's prison, notably housing "Pfaffendirnen" – "priests' whores", women convicted of sexual relations with clerics. [cite news|publisher= Swissinfo|date= October 8, 2005|author=Clare O'Dea|title=Time marches on at the Zytglogge|url=http://www.swissinfo.org/eng/swissinfo.html?siteSect=108&sid=6145735] At this time, the Zytglogge also received its first slanted roof. [Bellwald (1983), 4.]
In the great fire of 1405, the tower burnt out completely. It suffered severe structural damage that required thorough repairs, which were not complete until after the last restoration in 1983. The prison cells were abandoned [Hofer, 107.] and a
clockwas first installed above the gate in the early 15th century, probably including a simple astronomical clock and musical mechanism. [Bellwald (1983), 5.] This clock, together with the great bell cast in 1405, gave the Zytglogge its name, which in Bernese Germanmeans "time bell". [Hofer, 107.]
In the late 15th century, the Zytglogge and the other Bernese gate towers were extended and decorated after the Burgundian Romantic fashion. The Zytglogge received a new lantern (including the metal bellman visible today), four decorative corner towerlets, heraldic decorations and probably its stair tower. [Hofer, 108.] The astronomical clock was extended to its current state. In 1527–30, the clockwork was completely rebuilt by
Kaspar Brunner, and the gateway was overarched to provide a secure foundation for the heavy machinery. [Bellwald (1983), 6.]
The Zytglogge's exterior was repainted by
Gotthard Ringgliand Kaspar Haldensteinin 1607–10, who introduced the large clock faces that now dominate the east and west façades of the tower. [Bellwald (1983), 6.] The corner towerlets were removed again some time before 1603. [Hofer, 108.] In 1770–71, the Zytglogge was renovated by Niklaus Heblerand Ludwig Emanuel Zehnder, who refurbished the structure in order to suit the tastes of the late Baroque, giving the tower its contemporary outline. [Bellwald (1983), 9.]
Both façades were again repainted in the
Rococostyle by Rudolf von Steigerin 1890. The idealising historicism of the design came to be disliked in the 20th century, and a 1929 competition produced the façade designs visible today: on the west façade, Viktor Surbek's fresco "Beginning of Time" and on the east façade, a reconstruction of the 1770 design by Kurt Indermühle. [Bellwald (1983), 9.] In 1981–83, the Zytglogge was thoroughly renovated again and generally restored to its 1770 appearance. [Bellwald (1983), 13.] In the adventseason and from Easteruntil the end of October, it is illuminated after dusk.cite news|title=Zytglogge tickt nicht richtig: Das Uhrwerk kennt kein Schaltjahr|publisher= Der Bund|date=2008-02-29|author=Philipp Schori|url=http://www.espace.ch/artikel_489623.html|language=German]
Bernese German"Zytglogge" translates to "Zeitglocke" in Standard Germanand to " timebell" in English. A "time bell" was one of the earliest public timekeeping devices, consisting of a clockworkconnected to a hammer that rang a small bell at the full hour. [Marti (2005), 19.] Such a device was installed in the "Wendelstein" in Berne – the tower of the "Leutkirche" church which the Münster later replaced – in 1383 at the latest; it alerted the bell-ringer to ring the tower bells. [Marti (2005), 19.]
The name of "Zytglogge" was first recorded in 1413. [Messerli, 581.] Previously, the tower was referred to as the "kebie" ("cage", i.e.,
prison) and after its post-1405 reconstruction, the "nüwer turm" ("new tower"). [Messerli, 581; Marti (2005), 22.]
The Zytglogge has an overall height of m to ft|54.5, and a height of m to ft|24 up to the roof-edge. Its rectangular floor plan measures m to ft|11.2 by m to ft|10.75. The wall strengths vary widely, ranging from cm to in | 260 in the west, where the tower formed part of the city walls, to cm to in | 65 in the east. [Hofer, 111.]
The outward appearance of the Zytglogge is determined by the 1770 renovation. Only the late Gothic
cornicebelow the roof and the stair tower are visible artifacts of the tower's earlier history. [Hofer, 111.]
The main body of the tower is divided into the two-story
plinth, whose exterior is made of alpine limestone, and the three-story tower shaft sheathed in sandstone. The shaft's seemingly massive corner blocks are decorative fixtures held in place by visible iron hooks. [Bellwald (1983), 13-14.] Below the roof, the cornice spans around the still-visible bases of the former corner towerlets. The two-story atticis covered by the sweeping, red-tiled, late Gothic spire, in which two spire lights are set to the West and East. They are crowned by ornamental urns with pinecone knobs reconstructed in 1983 from 18th century drawings. [Bellwald (1983), 15.]
From atop the spire, the wooden
pinnacle, copper-sheathed since 1930, rises an additional m to ft|15 into the skies, crowned with a gildedknob and a weather vanedisplaying a cut-out coat of arms of Bern. [Bellwald (1983), 15.]
Bells and bell-striker
The tower's two namesake
bronzebells hang in the cupolaat its very top.
The great hour bell, cast by
Johann Reber, has remained unchanged since the tower's reconstruction in 1405. It has a diameter of cm to in|127, a weight of kg to lb|1400 and rings with a nominal tone of "e"'. [Marti (2005), 32–33.] The inscription on the bell reads, in Latin: "In the October month of the year 1405 I was cast by Master John called Reber of Aarau. I am vessel and wax, and to all I tell the hours of the day." [Marti (2005), 32–33.]
When the great bell rings out every full hour, struck by a large clockwork-operated hammer, passersby see a gilded figure in full harness moving its arm to strike it. The larger-than-life figure of bearded
Chronos, the Greek personification of time, is traditionally nicknamed "Hans von Thann" by the Bernese. [Hofer, 120.] The wooden bell-striker, which has been replaced several times, has been a fixture of the Zytglogge since the renewal of the astronomical clock in 1530, whose clockwork also controls the figure's motions. The original wooden "Chronos" might have been created by master craftsman Albrecht von Nürnberg, [Bellwald (1983), 15; Hofer (122) is more doubtful.] while the current and most recent "Hans" is a 1930 reconstruction of a Baroque original. The bell-striker has been gilded, just like the bells, since 1770. [Bellwald (1983), 15.]
Below the hour bell hangs the smaller quarter-hour bell, also rung by a clockwork hammer. It was cast in 1887 to replace the cracked 1486 original. [Bellwald (1983), 15.]
Clock faces and façade decorations
Both principal façades, East and West, are dominated by massive
clockfaces. The Zytglogge's first clockface was likely located on the plinth, but was moved up to the center of the shaft during the tower's 15th century reconfiguration. [Hofer, 112.]
The eastern clock face features an outer ring of large golden
Roman numerals, on which the larger hand indicates the hour, and an inner ring on which the smaller hand indicates the minutes. The golden sun on the hourhand is pivot-mounted so that it always faces up. [Bellwald (1983), 21.] Below the clock face one sees an idealised profile of city founder Duke Berchtold Vof Zähringen. While the exact decoration of the clockface has varied from renovation to renovation, the current (post-1983) layout is generally that of 1770.
The western clock face has similar hands, but is an integral part of
Viktor Surbek's 1929 fresco"Beginning of Time". The painting depicts Chronosswooping down with cape fluttering, and, below the clockface, Adam and Eve's eviction from Paradise by an angel. [Hofer, 119; Bellwald (1983), 16.]
dialof the Zytglogge's astronomical clockis built in the form of an astrolabe. It is backed by a stereographically projected planispheredivided into three zones: the black night sky, the deep blue zone of dawnand the light blue day sky. The skies are crisscrossed with the golden lines of the horizon, dawn, the tropics and the temporal hours, which divide the time of daylight into twelve hours whose length varies with the time of year. [Bellwald (1983), 19.]
Around the planisphere moves the "
rete", a web-like metal cutout representing the zodiac, which also features a Julian calendardial. Above the "rete", a display indicates the day of the week. Because leap days are not supported by the clockwork, the calendar hand has to be reset manually each leap yearon 29 February. A moondial circles the inner ring of the zodiac, displaying the moon phase. The principal hand of the clock indicates the time of day on the outer ring of 24 golden Roman numerals, which run twice from Ito XII. It features two suns, the smaller one indicating the date on the "rete"'s calendar dial. The larger one circles the zodiac at one revolution per year and also rotates across the planisphere once per day. Its crossing of the horizon and dawn lines twice per day allows the timing of sunrise, dawn, dusk and sunset. [Bellwald (1983), 20.]
friezeabove the astronomical clock shows five deities from classical antiquity, each representing both a day of the week and a planet in their order according to Ptolemaic cosmology. From left to right, they are: Saturn with sickle and club for Saturday, Jupiter with thunderbolts for Thursday, Mars with sword and shield for Tuesday, Venus with Cupidfor Friday and Mercury with staff and bag for Wednesday. [Bellwald (1983), 19.] The painting of the entire clock area was refurbished in 1983. Only the matte areas on the clock face are from the earlier coat of paint.
The clock dial has been dated to either the building phases of 1405 or 1467/83, [Bellwald (1983), 20.] or to the installation of the Brunner clockwork in 1527-30. [Hofer, 124.] Ueli Bellwald notes that the planisphere uses a southern projection, as was characteristic for 15th century astronomical clocks; all later such clocks use a northern projection. This would seem to confirm the dating of the clock to the 1405 or 1467/83 renovations. [Bellwald (1983), 19.]
clockis documented in this tower since 1405 [cite book
last = Marti
first = Markus
title = 600 Jahre Zytglogge Bern - Eine kleine Chronik der Zeitmessung
publisher = Staempfli
date = 2005
location = Bern
pages = 48
id = 3-7272-1180-6
isbn = ] , when a new
bellwas installed. The city accounts of 1438 mention the repair of the clockworks. The first mention of a dial is in 1443, and the first known image of the, much smaller first astrolabium dial (in the diary a cobbler journeyman from Ulm) is dated 1534. The jacquemart (bellstriker)is also documented in the same 1534 source. In the first two decades of the 16th centurymany craftsman unsucsessfully tried to improve the clockworks. The current movement was made in 1530 by clockmaker Kasper Bruner and is dated and signed by a forged nameplate. No other clokworks by this master are known. The core of the movement was forged in-situ, in the very room it is still located, and the fire pit of the forge remains in the room. One of the more unusual features of the movement is that each individual tooth of the major gears is removable (i.e.replacable as it wears). Originally the movement had a verge escapementwith a foliot, as it was built 127 years before the pendulum clockwas invented. The Zytglogge movement was converted to a much more accurate pendulum mechanism by the French clockmaker Pierre Angely between 1686 and 1688. The current pendulum bob, a "recycled" iron cannon ball, possibly dates from that time. The pendulum suspension is made from leather rather than using a metal spring. The weight driven movement is would daily by hand. That task, a role known as the "Zytgloggenrichter", has been held been held for over 25 years by the same individual.
The Zytglogge's internal layout has changed over time to reflect the tower's change of purpose from guard tower to city prison to clock tower. The thirteenth century guard tower was not much more than a hollow shell of walls that was open towards the city in the east. [Messerli, 580.] Only in the fourteenth century was a layer of four storeys inserted. [Bellwald (1979), 3.]
The rooms above the clockwork mechanism were used by the city administration for various purposes up until the late 20th century, including as archives, storerooms, as a firehose magazine and even as an
air raid shelter. [Bellwald (1979), 11.] The interior was frequently remodeled in a careless, even vandalistic fashion; for instance, all but three of the original wooden beams supporting the intermediate floors were destroyed. [Bellwald (1979), 11.] Since 1979, the tower's interior is empty again. [Bellwald (1979), 21.] It is only accessed for maintenance and in the course of regular guided tours.
year = 1999
contribution = Der Zytgloggenturm – öffentliche Räderuhren in Bern im 15. Jahrhundert
editor-first =Ellen J.
editor4-first =Rainer C.
title =Berns grosse Zeit
series =Berner Zeiten
publisher = Schulverlag bmv and Stämpfli Verlag
last2 =Suter+Partner Architekten
year = 1979
language = German
title =400 – Sanierungsprojekt Zytglogge Bern: Analysen, Konzepte, Kosten
place = Bern
publisher = Hochbauamt der Stadt Bern
* [http://www.zeitglockenturm.ch/index.php?article_id=1&clang=1 Website dedicated to the Zytglogge] by a web design company located nearby
* [http://www.berninfo.com/en/navpage.cfm?category=SightsBET&subcat=ToursGroupsBET&id=32723 Tourist information] by Bern Tourism
* [http://www.g26.ch/bern_zeitglocken.html Source texts relating to the Zytglogge] on www.g26.ch De icon
* De icon
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