The Oldest Astronomical Clock

The astronomical clock, masterpiece of the Renaissance, is the product of a collaboration between artists, mathematicians and technicians. Swiss watchmakers, sculptors, painters and designers of automata worked together. The current mechanism dates back to 1842.

The clock draws particularly by the play of its automata. The full set of automata is all day, at 12: 30.

The history of the clock

The clock has a universal reputation and it is one of the attractions of the Cathedral. Every year, more than 3 million visitors come to contemplate it!

A first clock, called “of the three kings” was placed in 1354 in front of the current. She had a dozen meters high and consisted of a statue of the Virgin in front of which the three wise men came bow hourly to the sound of a chime. A cock was already beating wings and sang. It is still visible at the palais Rohan, at the Museum of decorative arts in the room of clocks and its mechanism is apparent. She stopped working early in the 16th century.

A second clock was put into construction in 1547. In fact, it was achieved only in 1571 at the current location. There are mathematicians Conrad Dasypodius and David Volkenstein, watchmakers Josias and Isaac Habrecht, the painter Tobias Stimmer. The buffet and most of the decorations are those that we can still admire today. It gave time and astronomical indications. Elements, especially admirable animated characters, are also on display at the Museum of the Rohan Palace where they are exposed with the cock of the first clock. The workings in wrought iron will eventually be worn and this second clock permanently stopped working in 1788.

The third-the current!-clock is housed in the 16th century Renaissance style buffet. But its mechanism was created entirely by a great engineer Strasbourg: Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué. Self-taught, he acquired all the necessary knowledge and know-how to put them into practice: calculations, astronomy but also realization of machines to make the inner workings of the timepiece. It’s the work of a lifetime. At the age of 61, he was given the renovation of the clock, but he was ready for the book. The work lasted from 1838 to 1842. The clock shows the time, the civil and ecclesiastical calendar and astronomical indications. She has, for example, made it clear an eclipse of the moon on March 28, 2006.

The clock is maintained by the Council of factory of the Cathedral, presided over by the Archbishop of Strasbourg, which was a scientific monitoring Committee, and who pays a watchmaker to keep state… and put it back together once a week, every Monday.

The legend

It is not surprising that such as Strasbourg Cathedral attracts over the centuries of the legendary stories: the underground lake in the foundations where float boats, the well where the children are waiting to be born… and the eyes gouged out of the watchmaker to prevent it from creating a similar to that of Strasbourg wonder and vengeance that will, under the pretext of a final adjustment to destroy the large part of his work. Reassure children: Dasypodius has never suffered from violence and its clock stopped by the wear of time. “Wish the current clock never suffers violence or stupidity of men, because its workings cut into a staggering accuracy give at the present time no signs of fatigue.”

The presentation of the clock on a daily basis

The presentation of the clock to the public is completely renewed. A film was made in 3 languages: French, German, English. It contains a clock and its history as described in microedu.net; It is projected on a screen next to the clock itself every day except Sundays at noon. So visitors are prepared by close-ups to better see and understand what they see unfold at 12:30 on the monument. This Visual presentation replaces the previous audio explanation. Of course, it is needless to say that it is strongly recommended to be present before 12 h to not miss the beginning of the projection. This projection is not presented Sundays and holidays where access to the clock is free after the 11 am mass.

Gallery

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