Italy’s tallest brick tower, the gorgeous Romanesque-style Torrazzo of Cremona, is also home to the world’s largest astronomical clock. The clock, sitting uncharacteristically low on the tower so everyone can read its face, is beautifully painted with zodiac symbols against a blue sky. The clock is extraordinarily large, and is even larger than London’s Big Ben!
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The Torrazzo Of Cremona
The astronomical clock is installed on the elegant, towering Torrazzo Of Cremona, the third largest brick bell tower in the world. Seeing the 112.7 metre (370 feet) giant rising above the city is just as impressive today as it must have been to medieval admirers. The construction started somewhere after 1230 with the brickwork of the tower, and ended in 1309 with the completion of the ornate marble spire.
The belfry houses seven bells, all dedicated to saints, including one dedicated to San Homobonus, patron saint of the city and of tailors, shoemakers, cloth workers and business people. It is possible to climb to the top of the tower, but to earn a look at the city’s highest viewpoint, it’s a gruelling hike of 502 steps!
About The Cremona Astronomical Clock
The astronomical clock was built between 1583 and 1588, constructed by clockmakers Francesco and Giovan Battista Divizioli, a father and son. The central dial was painted in detail by Italian Renaissance painter Paolo Scazzolo, to represent the zodiac symbols. Since then, it has been repainted several times over the years by other Italian painters, such as Giovanni Battista Dordoni in 1588, and most recently in 1970.
The central dial represents the sky filled with zodiac symbols, with rings around the outer edges indicating the 24-hour time, and an inner circle showing the current month. Four Hands move across the dial, with the position of the sun and moon moving across them. The clock also displays the seasons, lunar phases, and even predicts eclipses when the hands cross.
How Big Is The Torrazzo Of Cremona Astronomical Clock?
The clock, the largest astronomical clock in the world, is enormous. It is 8.2 metres (26.9 feet) wide, and 8.4 metres (27.6 feet) including the outer copper frame. That’s larger than Big Ben, at 6.85 metres (22.5 feet) wide!
Torrone and Toblerone
The Torrazzo of Cremona has also inspired torrone, a crunchy Italian nougat dessert. It was created in 1441 to celebrate the wedding of local nobility, the duchess Bianca Maria Visconti, and the Duke of Milan Francesco Sforza. It was formed into the shape of the tower, which helped give torrone its name. Indeed, the popular chocolate Toblerone was named as a portmanteau of the word torrone, and the name of its creator, Theodor Tobler.
As Italy’s tallest brick tower, the Torrazzo Of Cremona is unmissable for visitors to the city, and its great height makes it easy to locate the beautiful astronomical clock. Despite it being on such a high tower, it is positioned low for viewers to see, and is well worth a visit to admire the medieval engineering. And for those feeling particularly energetic, a hike up the steps to the viewpoint is a great way to admire the city and the river Po below.