Europe is called the ‘Old Continent’ for its long history – which has also been cruel and gruesome more times than not. However, the centuries haven’t only given us wars and misery, they’ve also left us with culture and beauty. There are many European cities with iconic clock towers that used to serve a pretty clear purpose: telling people the time! And, while nowadays we don’t use them for that anymore, the clock towers in Europe have become architectural and historical landmarks of their cities, silent testimonies of the years passing and of the events that have taken place under them.

 

Besides having this practical purpose in their origins, clock towers are usually located in or next to important government buildings, and, of course, in their respective cities’ main square. In the following lines, we’ll take you on a tour of some of the most important, beautiful and iconic clock towers in Europe.

 

Clock towers in Europe: Vienna

Vienna’s Rathaus has one of the most elegant clock towers in Europe. The clock tower presides the town hall, as it is right in the middle of this beautiful building of neo-gothic style that was built between 1872 and 1883 and designed by Friedrich von Schmidt. It is still the seat of Vienna’s city council.

 

iconic clock towers in Europe

Clock towers in Europe: Munich

One of Munich’s top attractions is the Glockenspiel, that is, the clock tower located in Mariensplatz, Munich’s main square. This clock tower is as unique as you can get, as it tells the time with a darling performance conducted by motorized figurines. It lasts 12 minutes and takes place three times a day (at 11 a.m., 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.), during which the figurines twirl and dance around. Could it be more charming?

The most iconic clock towers in Europe

Clock towers in Europe: Venice

Venice’s St. Mark’s Clocktower is one of the most unique in this list, thanks to its golden ornamentation that shows the 12 zodiac signs. The Clock Tower was built in the 16th century, as was the clock, although its mechanism has of course been modified along the years.

The most iconic clock towers in Europe

Clock towers in Europe: Salzburg

The German city of Salzburg has its own clock tower as well, also one of the city’s main landmarks. It’s located in the Rathaus, the old city hall, a Medieval building that distinguishes it from the rest thanks to its little bell tower, charming, colourful and beautiful. One of the most popular sights of the city.

The most iconic clock towers in Europe

Clock towers in Europe: Florence

Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio has one of the most particular clock towers, as its clock it’s not located at the top, but at the very end of the tower itself. Nonetheless, the palace’s high enough for the clock to be seen by everybody. The tower was allegedly designed by architect Arnolfo di Cambio in the early 14th century, but the clock itself wasn’t added until 1353.

The most iconic clock towers in Europe

Clock towers in Europe: Moscow

Russia’s capital has its own clock tower by the Red Square: the Spasskaya Tower, that was designed by Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solari and built in the late 15th century. The clock is usually referred to as the Kremlin’s clock, as the tower is part of the Moscow Kremlin. Fun fact: the landmark was so loved by locals that it used to be almost worshipped, and many thought it actually had the power to protect the Kremlin from its enemies.

The most iconic clock towers in Europe

Clock towers in Europe: Prague

The clock in the Old Town Hall Tower is probably Prague’s most visited and revered monuments, as its astronomical clock has no parallel in the entire world. It shows a beautiful combination of golden colours that are proof of Prague’s elegant and dark charm. It was built in the early 15th century by Mikulas of Kadan, and it has a legend of its own as well. In the late 15th century, Hanus of Ruze was given the task of improving the beautiful clock, and it is said that he was blinded after so he could never build a clock that matched the wonders of Prague’s own landmark.

The most iconic clock towers in Europe

Clock towers in Europe: London

And finally, of course, we had to mention the most famous of them all, London’s iconic Big Ben, located by the Thames river in the beautiful Parliament building. The neo-gothic tower was designed by Augustus Pugin and its construction ended only in 1859. Did you know that the nickname ‘big ben’ was originally given only to the clock, even if nowadays we identify it with the whole tower? And yes – it is only a nickname. The clock’s official name is Great Bell, and it is located in the Elizabeth Tower.

The most iconic clock towers in Europe

Which of these clock towers in London do you find the most beautiful? Have you visited them all? Tell us about it in the comments!

Author
At GowithOh, we are an enthusiastic team of self-confessed Europhiles who are passionate about travel. We especially love the variety of city breaks possible in Europe, from the historic UNESCO heritage cities like Prague, to the more cosmopolitan beachside destinations like Barcelona. We love discovering the hidden gems in different cities and sharing them with our fans so everyone can benefit and enjoy the perfect city break in Europe.