Stará Bystrica Astronomical Clock – Stará Bystrica, Slovakia - Atlas Obscura

Stará Bystrica Astronomical Clock

Stará Bystrica, Slovakia

The world's newest astronomical clock is also its most accurate. 


The world’s youngest astronomical clock towers above the central square in a small Slovakian village. Its colorful astrolabe is the star feature of a building that seems to flow as fluidly as time itself.

The clock was built in 2009 during renovations on the town square. It’s the only horologe of its kind in Slovakia. Because its satellite-controlled software allows it to display true solar time, it’s also said to be the most accurate astronomical clock in the world.

The timepiece is aesthetically astounding. Its face shows the movements of the celestial world. On its astrolabe, the moon chases the sun on an endless journey through the zodiacs. The clock also translates the way humans interpret these constant astronomical shifts, labeling not only the minutes and hours but also the days and months. A golden arrow strikes each day’s date.

Its building, too, is also a sight to behold. The structure ripples and folds around the clock tower, forming the shape of a seated woman in billowing clothes that’s meant to resemble the Virgin Mary. Bronze busts of historic Slovakian figures are perched within nearby niches. An hourly parade of small statues representing Slovakian saints occurs during the day, set to a soundtrack of the tower’s tolling bells.

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