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Lübeck, Germany

Astronomical Clock at St. Mary's Church

A stunning two-story timepiece within a medieval Brick Gothic church. 

St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck has many fascinating features inside and outside its ancient Brick Gothic walls. One of them is a stunning two-story timepiece. 

The astronomical clock’s massive faces show the time, date, location of the zodiac signs, and the positions of the Sun and Moon. The contraption was faithfully built in the 1960s by a local clockmaker named Paul Behrens. He considered the masterpiece to be his greatest achievement and maintained it up until he died.

Each day, when the clock strikes noon, a procession of eight little people meant to represent the citizens of the world passes before a figure of Christ, who then blesses them. Interestingly, the last date on the calendar dial of the clock is in 2080, though this most likely doesn’t mean anything.

The beautiful astronomical timepiece took the place of one that was originally built in the 16th century that, like many of the church’s other medieval artifacts, was ruined during World War II. Sadly, little of this clock remains, though the newer version is a simplified replica of it. The parading figures of the original clock were meant to represent the prince-electors from the Holy Roman Empire.

The astronomical clock is located within St. Mary’s Danse Macabre chapel, which was named for the stained glass, historic organ, and paintings that also stood there before being destroyed during the war.

Know Before You Go

The church is free for children under 18. Adults pay €2.