Our heritage
Old City of Berne

Markus Marti

Judge of the Clock Tower

What is your role in this World Heritage site?
As the judge of the Clock Tower, I have to make sure that the historical clock works continuously and as accurately as possible, that it beats the hours regularly and that it is always in good technical condition. If the clock deviates too much from the real time, I have to judge it (hence the name judge of the Clock Tower). To prevent the clock from stopping, it must be wound by hand every day. Each of the five individual movements is guided by a stone weight. All five weights together weigh almost 400 kg. Every evening they are pulled up about 18 metres under the roof of the tower with hand cranks. I share this task with two helpers. The operational plan with the helpers is extremely important, because if you omit to wind the clock once, dozens of spectators would be disappointed the next day not being able to see the animation of the mechanical figures.

What's your relationship with Clock Tower?
After many years of study of the clock, in-depth knowledge and research into its history, I realized I was dealing with an invaluable cultural asset. It caught my interest and became a real passion. It is above all the astrolabe, which tells us a lot about the worldview of the time, about the importance of astronomy and astrology in the Middle Ages.

What's your favorite place? Do you have any secrets to tell us?
I gladly sit on the old bench in the clock room and listen to the pendulum swing. It reminds us unequivocally of the fleeting time of life. Tip: If you follow the hour shot outside, move away a little so that you can see the hour shot on top of the tower, with the mechanical figure dutifully hitting its hammer on the bell.

When is the best time to visit the Clock Tower and why?
In the morning and of course at noon, when the animation of the mechanical figures lasts longer.

What activities do you recommend in particular?
The tower can only be visited with a guide. The Bern Welcome tourist office accepts reservations. 

March 2020