Hooglandse Kerk Clock – Leiden, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura
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Leiden, Netherlands

Hooglandse Kerk Clock

Once housed in the towers of this Gothic church, this 17th century clock still ticks today. 

Inside of the Hooglandse Kerk (Highlands Church), a 15th century Gothic church located at the confluence of the Old Rhine and New Rhine in the Netherlands, you can find an old clock from 1609 that once was housed in one of the church’s towers.

The church had a specially designed room that allowed the clock’s 6.4-meter-long pendulum to move freely. For many of the years between 1609 and today, the sexton wound the clock twice a day—which was no small feat. To achieve this he had to climb the stairs for over 30 meters, walk past a narrow path on the outside of the roof and then go up a narrow ladder to the mechanism, after which he would have to go back down. 

Seeing how complicated it was to keep the clock running, the church stopped maintaining it about 100 years ago. During those many years it was forgotten almost completely, until 1996, when a plan was made to restore the clock and bring it down for display. Just that was done, and in 2003 the clock was fixed. 

These days the old clock still ticks away the time, but no longer in a tower but rather in the main hall of the church. It is a very interesting piece of technology to observe in action, although be warned the bells do not work, so don’t wait for it to ring.  

Know Before You Go

Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00-16:00; entrance is free.