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Time for a clean As time takes its toll, the Zytglogge gets a facelift

The Zytglogge is one of Bern's most important sights: the ornate astronomical clock has served the city of Bern since 1530, but now the intricate moving parts have been taken away for repairs.

A large crowd of tourists can normally be found watching the clock from the cobbled streets below as it strikes each hour, on the hour. It’s a highlight of the city’s old town – a UNESCO world heritage site. The clock itself is a fascinating piece of machinery: on the outside, it’s not only the numerous hands that move, but also characters such as a jester, a cockerel and of course, bears.

On the inside of the clock tower a complex system of giant cogs, wheels, levers and knobs turn together to keep the clock on time. The rhythm is set by a giant pendulum.

The many intricate parts need to be kept in excellent working order in order to function properly, and so the clock faces and various moving characters have been taken away to be cleaned and repaired. They’re due to return in June 2018.

The clock’s roof and façade will be renovated, and the instrument for measuring altitude – the astrolabe – will also be cleaned. The Zytglogge will remain covered in scaffolding during this time. 

Image gallery with pictures of the Zytglogge clock face being demounted for restoration, in Bern 2018

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