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2020-08-21 12:15:31

Rouen astronomical clock: hour hand and golden lambs

Rouen astronomical clock: hour hand and golden lambs

Rouen is an ancient French city that arose at the beginning of our era on the site of Celtic settlements. The streets and squares of Rouen keep the prints of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Gothic style reigns in the historical center:

  • Rouen Cathedral
  • Church of Saint-Maclou
  • Church Saint-Ouen
  • Palace of Justice.

Cozy narrow streets with historic buildings flood with tourists in winter and summer. From the picturesque Place Vieux Marché, which remembers the execution of Joan of Arc, the guests of Rouen move along the Rue Gros-Orlozh to the arch with the medieval astronomical clock, which will surely appear on the instagram of every tourist who visits Rouen.

Clock and dial: silver and gold for housewarming

An astronomical clock with a huge mechanism was made in England in the XIV century, later it was transported to Rouen and installed in the bell tower of the XII century. The bell tower began to be called Gro-Orlozh (Clock Tower), and then the street on which the tower stands was also named.

During the riots in Rouen, the tower was badly damaged, later it was dismantled, and an arch was built for the clock, leaning on 2 sides of the street. Before "moving" to the arch, the watch had no adornments, only a single hour hand. In 1529, Rouen masters made a dial for the watch, decorated with colored and gilded carvings depicting the sun and moving figures. Shiny details are gold plated. Gilded numbers appeared around the hand, and a golden lamb settled on the hand itself, indicating the time with its hoof. The lambs are all around here: on the finish of the dial (3 at the top and 1 in the center at the bottom), on the decorations of the arch itself and its vault: reliefs - the coat of arms of Rouen and a shepherd with a flock. The lamb on the coat of arms and the clock speaks of the main occupation of the Rouen people - weaving, production of woolen fabric.

Above the dial in the center was placed a silver ball, half painted black. Rotating, the ball shows the phases of the moon. At the bottom there is a long window in which figures representing the day of the week are shown. The figures are printed on a rotating disc. Since then, the watch has not undergone any changes.

The dial mechanics were incorporated into the watch design, which is 150 years older than them. And this whole ancient, huge mechanism has never broken down, no errors have accumulated in it. It really works like a clock!

"If the townspeople want a tower, they will build it!"

After the demolition of the old tower, it was forbidden to build a new one, since the boundaries of the city were already in other places. But the townspeople explained that the tower was a "clock", and still erected a bell tower next to the arch. The tower now serves as a museum; from the inside you can see the clockwork. Experts believe that the Rouen clock Gros-Orloj has the largest ancient movement that has survived to this day.

In the 1920s, electricity was connected to the mechanism, and before that, the watchmaker was supposed to constantly watch the clock - he even had his own office in the tower.

The bell tower offers a beautiful view of the city, Rue Gros-Orlozh and the Gothic churches of Rouen.

* Antique city clock of the XIV century on the dial of the XVI century

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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