Old Sarajevo Clock Tower – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Atlas Obscura
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Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Old Sarajevo Clock Tower

This historic timepiece is thought to be the only public clock in the world that keeps lunar time. 

Located in the historic old town section of Sarajevo, the Old Clock Tower is not only one of the largest in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it is also believed to be the only clock tower in the world that keeps lunar time making it always seem like it is broken.

Dating back to the 17th century and towering next to the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque in the center of the city, the old Sarajevo clock tower (known to locals as “Little Ben”) is one of the tallest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The current clockwork mechanism was installed in the late 1800’s being imported from the London watchmaking firm Gillett & Johnson. The arcane machinery does not follow the standard time, but instead marks time based on the movement of the sun and moon so that the locals can time their prayers, thus the clock strikes midnight a sunset in the town. The delicate astronomical measurements required to keep time with the turning of celestial bodies requires that the clock be calibrated every three days or so. This responsibility has fallen to a single clock keeper who has reset the gilded clock hands right on schedule since the 1960’s. He is honored by the task, considering it a holy calling. 

Since the original religious purpose behind the lunar timepiece has long since had its meaning obscured, most tourists simple think the four sides of the clock tower are keeping bad time, and even many locals are unaware of the significance of the strange timepiece, yet like the inexorable turning of the sun and moon, it is unfailingly reset despite what people think. 

Know Before You Go

Situated next to Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque in the centre of Bašćaršija, Sarajevo.