10 Must-Visit Clocks Around the World—Besides Big Ben

For centuries, clocks have been determining the rhythm of our life. These breathtaking clocks from around the globe will leave you in awe.

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world clocks sundial
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How it all began

A vertical bar marks the beginning of time. Or at least the beginning of measuring it. About 3,000 BC, the Ancient Egyptians were using shadow-casting sticks known as gnomons to tell the time, but without any great accuracy. It wasn’t until the 14th century that the gnomon was positioned parallel to the earth’s axis, allowing time to be measured precisely.

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world clocks Makkah Royal Clock
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The Makkah Royal Clock

With a face measuring 43 metres in diameter, a minute hand 22 metres long and a facade decorated with 98 million glass mosaic tiles covered in gold leaf, the Makkah Royal Clock in Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest solar-powered tower clock. Even at night, you can still tell the time up to 10 kilometres away.

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world clocks astro clock
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The Astronomical Clock

In 15th-century Prague, a clock was commissioned that didn’t even tell the time. Originally, the Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall only showed the position of the sun, the phases of the moon and the current sign of the zodiac. A clock for telling the time of day and calendar came later.

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world clocks german cuckoo
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The Black Forest Clock

The cuckoo hiding in the upper window of this clock is a real heavyweight! Measuring 4.5 metres in length, it also weighs a hefty 150 kilograms. The bird resides, where else, in Germany’s Black Forest in a faithful, hand-built reproduction of a traditional cuckoo clock. Scaled up by a factor of 60, it is probably the world’s largest of its kind.

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world clock cosmo clock
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The Cosmo Clock 21

The Cosmo Clock 21 might not be the biggest ferris wheel, but it’s almost certainly the biggest clock in the world! Towering 112 metres above the Minato Mirai 21 amusement park in Japan, even if the clock itself isn’t exactly record-breaking in size, its ‘face’ is still monumental with its 100-metre diameter.

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world clock Spasskaya
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Spasskaya Tower

Known as the Kremlin chimes, this spectacular clock tower overlooks the Red Square of Moscow, Russia and offers a passage through the Kremlin’s eastern wall. It was built in 1491 by visiting Italian architect Pietro Antonino Solari.

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world clock Deira
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Deira Clock Tower

This iconic clock in Dubai’s Deira area is one of Dubai’s most important landmarks. Built in 1963, it stands on high legs with fountain jets beneath it. The clock tower looms over a roundabout at the intersection of two of the city’s main roads—which was once the major access point to Dubai, making the clock the first thing visitors would see when entering. It was a gift to the Vice President of the United Arab Emirates by his son-in-law to celebrate their first oil export.

Dubai is also home to one of the most expensive luxury hotels in the world.

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world clocks zytglogge
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The Zytglogge

This medieval tower in Bern, Switzerland has served many purposes since it was built in the 13th century. It has served as a guard tower, prison, clock tower, and civic memorial site. Today, it is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Designed with beautiful Baroque elements, the Zytglogge is undeniably one of the city’s greatest landmarks.

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world clock Rajabai
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The Rajabai Clock Tower

On the Fort campus of India’s University of Mumbai, visitors can find the 85 metres high Venetian and Gothic style Rajabai clock tower. Having its roots in the colonial rule of India, it was completed in 1878 and designed by English architect Sir George Gilbert Scott who modeled the tower after Big Ben.

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world clocks izmir tower
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Izmir Clock Tower

Considered the heart of the city of Izmir, Turkey, this clock tower in Konak square serves as a meeting point for locals and is a beloved attraction for tourists. The clock tower was designed by the French architect Raymond Charles Père in 1901, though the clock itself was a gift from German emperor Wilhelm II to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Abdülhamid’s ascension to the throne. With its beautiful Ottoman architecture style, the Izmir Clock Tower is a historical must-see.

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world clocks Olsen world clock
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Jens Olsen’s World Clock

This Copenhagen, Denmark clock displays not only the time, but also lunar and solar eclipses, positions of stellar bodies and a perpetual calendar. The clock—which has 12 movements and 15,448 parts—was designed and calculated by Jens Olsen, who died a decade before its completion. Its inception began in 1934, but the clock’s construction ended in 1955.

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Originally Published in Readers Digest International Edition

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