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A clock tower is a tower built with one or more (often four) clock faces. The clock tower is usually part of a church or municipal building such as a town hall, but many clock towers are free-standing.

The mechanism inside the tower is known as a turret clock. It often marks the hour (and sometimes segments of an hour) by sounding large bells or chimes, sometimes playing simple musical phrases or tunes.


Some clock towers are famous landmarks. Five of the best-known are the Clock Tower, Palace of Westminstermarker, which houses the Great Bell (generally known as Big Ben) in Londonmarker, the Rajabai Towermarker in Mumbaimarker, the Spasskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlinmarker, the Leaning Tower of Pisamarker, the Campanile in Venicemarker, Italymarker, Zytgloggemarker clock tower in the Old city of Bernemarker, Switzerlandmarker.
On New Year's Eve 2004 four 6.3-metre clock faces were added to the top of the Warsaw Palace of Culture and Sciencemarker building in Warsawmarker, Polandmarker making it the highest 4-faced clock tower in the world and the second highest clock tower in the world.. The NTT DoCoMo Yoyogi Buildingmarker 240 meters (787 feet) is 10 meters higher and is the highest clock tower in the world. The Allen-Bradley Clock Towermarker holds the record for the largest non-chiming four faced clock.


Although clock towers are today mostly admired for their aesthetics, they once served an important purpose. Before the middle of the twentieth century, most people did not have watches, and prior to the 18th century even home clocks were rare. The first clocks didn't have faces, but were solely striking clocks, which sounded bells to call the surrounding community to prayer. They were therefore placed in towers so the bells would be audible for a long distance. Clock towers were placed near the centers of towns and were often the tallest structures there. As clock towers became more common, the designers realized that a dial on the outside of the tower would allow the townspeople to read the time whenever they wanted.

The use of clock towers dates back to the antiquity. The earliest clock tower was the Tower of the Windsmarker in Athensmarker which featured eight sundials. In its interior, there was also a water clock (or clepsydra), driven by water coming down from the Acropolis. A striking clock tower was constructed many centuries later in 1154 near the Umayyad Mosquemarker in Damascusmarker, Syriamarker, by the Arab engineer al-Kaysarani. In Englandmarker, a clock was put up in a clock tower, the medieval precursor to Big Benmarker, at Westminstermarker, in 1288; and in 1292 a clock was put up in Canterbury Cathedralmarker. The oldest surviving clock tower in Europe is the Salisbury cathedral clock, completed in 1306; and another clock put up at St. Albansmarker, in 1326, 'showed various astronomical phenomena'.

JB Joyce & Co claims to be the world's oldest tower clock maker (still in operation). The company began life in 1690 and still manufactures clocks not far from its original premises in Whitchurch, Shropshire. Today it is a part of the Smith of Derby Group, started in 1856, which claims to be the largest tower clock manufacturer in the world. The company has manufactured tower clocks for St Paul's Cathedralmarker in Londonmarker and the Shanghai Customs buildingmarker in Chinamarker.

Line (mains) synchronous tower clocks were introduced in the United States in the 1920s by Telechron, now Electric Time Company of Medfield, Massachusettsmarker. Electric Time Company is now the largest tower clock manufacturer in the world.

List of Clock towers



Hong Kong




  • American University of Beirut's College Hall Clock, Beirut
  • Place D'Etoile






United Arab Emirates

North America




United States

South America



Image:GGSclocktower.jpg|Clocktower at Geelong Grammar Schoolmarker, Victoria, AustraliamarkerImage:Houses.of.parliament.overall.arp.jpg|The Clock Towermarker, Palace of Westminstermarker, Londonmarker, Englandmarker (commonly referred to as Big Ben)Image:Hoboclock.jpg|The Ferry Terminal Clock Towermarker, Hoboken, New JerseymarkerImage:Rajabai-Tower.jpg|The Rajabai Towermarker, South Mumbaimarker, IndiamarkerImage:clock tower.jpg|The Clock Tower, Secunderabadmarker, Andhra pradeshmarker, IndiamarkerImage:Kremlin Spasskaya Tower.jpg|The Spasskaya Tower, MoscowmarkerImage:Faisalabad Clock-tower.jpeg|Clock Towermarker, Faisalabadmarker, PakistanmarkerImage:Clock Tower Multan.jpeg|Multanmarker Clock Tower, PakistanmarkerImage:Clk_Towe_Slk.jpg|Clock Tower, Sialkotmarker, PakistanmarkerImage:PKiN w W-wie.JPG|Warsaw Palace of Culture and Sciencemarker, the second highest clock clock towerFile:SCHS Bell Tower3.jpeg|The Clock Tower Buildingmarker of The Chinese High Schoolmarker, SingaporemarkerImage:Einsiedeln tower clocks.jpg|Einsiedeln Abbeymarker, SwitzerlandmarkerImage:Mcgraw.jpg|McGraw Tower at Cornell Universitymarker in Ithaca, New YorkmarkerImage:AuburnUniversity-SamfordHall.jpg|Samford Hallmarker located on the campus of Auburn Universitymarker in Auburnmarker, AlabamamarkerImage:TSTClockTower.jpg|The Clock Towermarker at Tsim Sha Tsuimarker, Kowloonmarker, Hong Kongmarker was part of the former Kowloon StationmarkerImage:Peace Tower and Centennial Flame.jpg|Peace Towermarker, Parliament Hillmarker, Ottawamarker, OntariomarkerImage:mamatsios.jpg|Clock Tower of Saint Nicolas church, Kozanimarker, GreecemarkerImage:Evangelical_cathedral_sibiu.JPG|Sibiu Lutheran Cathedralmarker, Sibiumarker, RomaniamarkerImage:MalayCollegeClockTower.jpg|Malay College Kuala Kangsarmarker, MalaysiaImage:Central Station Sydney.jpg|Central Terminalmarker, Sydney, AustraliaImage:Star Ferry Pier in Central, Hong Kong.JPG | The old Star Ferry pier in Central, Hong KongmarkerImage:Chamberlain_clock_tower.jpg|Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Towermarker, The University of Birminghammarker, tallest clock tower in Englandmarker made by Smith of Derby (commonly referred as Old Joe)File:Mississauga city hall 2005.jpg|Clock tower of the Mississauga City Hall in Mississaugamarker, OntariomarkerImage:Allen-Bradley.jpg|Allen-Bradley Division Rockwell Automation Clock Tower in Milwaukee, WisconsinmarkerImage:Minneapolis City Hall.jpg|City Hall, Minneapolis, MinnesotamarkerImage:Sather-Tower.jpg|Sather Towermarker, University of California, BerkeleymarkerImage:Rome_Clock_Tower.jpg|Clock Tower, Rome, GeorgiamarkerImage:San Agustin Cathedral Tower.JPG|The Cathedral of San Agustinmarker bell/clock tower in Laredo, Texasmarker.Image:Ferrybuilding1.jpg|Ferry Buildingmarker, San Francisco, CaliforniamarkerImage:UTHSCSA Laredo Clock Tower.JPG|University of Texas Health Science Center in Laredo, TexasmarkerImage:Helsinki Railway Station 20050604.jpg|Central railway station, Helsinkimarker, Helsinkimarker, FinlandmarkerImage:Black_Church_Brasov.jpg|Biserica Neagrămarker, Braşovmarker, RomaniamarkerImage:St John ba Harim2.jpg|Ein Keremmarker, "St. John be Harim" monastery, IsraelmarkerImage:Old Parish Church of Peebles Clock Tower.jpg|Clock Tower, Old Parish Church of Peeblesmarker, Peeblesmarker, ScotlandmarkerImage:Botevgrad clock tower.jpg|Botevgradmarker, Bulgariamarker's clock tower is a local symbolImage:Berkovica3.JPG|BerkovitsamarkerImage:Ayer_Mill_View.jpg|22 Foot Diameter clock tower of Ayer Mill, Lawrence, Massachusettsmarker, USAFile:Clock Tower Prilep.jpg|Prilepmarker, Macedoniamarker's clock towerFile:TheHenryFordMuseumClockToweratNight.jpg|Clock tower at The Henry Fordmarker in MichiganFile:5 faced clock tower Dehradun.jpg|5 faced Clock tower at Dehradunmarker

See also


  1. History of PKiN in a nutshell.
  2. Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price: The Water Clock in the Tower of the Winds, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 72, No. 4 (1968), pp. 345-355 (353)
  3. Abdel Aziz al-Jaraki (2007), When Ridhwan al-Sa’ati Anteceded Big Ben by More than Six Centuries, Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation.
  4. Clocks, Encyclopaedia Britannica 5, 835 (1951).
  5. Frederick Tupper, Jr., 'Anglo-Saxon Dæg-Mæl', Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, Vol. 10, No. 2 (1895), p. 130, citing Archæologia, v, 416.
  6. JB Joyce

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