Playing With Time
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/120 sec
“I’m late! I’m late! For a very important da — hold on, what’s that?” Our tour group stopped in the middle of Munich’s Marienplatz (open square) to gawk at the loud clock with dancing figures on the side of the New Town Hall. For about 15 minutes, we watched various characters dance and perform jousting contests, until a little yellow bird at the top announced the end of the show.
This clock, a part of Munich’s history since 1908, is the Rathaus-Glockenspiel (not the type of glockenspiel that’s a relative of the xylophone). It goes off every day at 11am and 12pm (as well as 5pm in the summer and a mini-show at 9pm). It contains 42 bells that play different tunes, as well as 32 life-sized figures.
Later, I found out that the characters in the show were acting out important times in Munich’s history. The top section depicts the 1568 wedding of Duke Wilhelm V and Renata of Lorraine. Part of the 2-week party included a jousting tournament, depicted on the clock by a battle between a French & Bavarian knight (of course, the Bavarian always wins). You can watch a bit of this here.
The lower level is a group of the city’s coopers (barrel makers) doing the Schäfflertanz, a ritualistic jig popularly thought to have begun during the plague in 1517. Duke Wilhelm V ordered the dance be re-enacted every seven years to remember the deadly disease (the next live performance will be in February of 2019).
What’s the coolest clock you’ve ever seen?