Cover picture © Credits to iStock/ Anita_Bonita
Cover picture © Credits to iStock/ Anita_Bonita

It’s always the right time for Ankeruhr, Vienna's famous clock

2 minutes to read

The most beautiful clock in the city and the masterpiece of Art Nouveau - Ankeruhr (Anker clock) is located in the northern part of the inner city of Vienna, at formerly beautiful square Hohen Markt. The Ankeruhr is considered one of the most outstanding artworks of its epoch, and you can say that it’s always the right time for looking at the Ankeruhr, Vienna's famous clock.

Sad history of a beautiful clock

In 1911, the insurance company "Der Anker" developed a plan to build a large public clock at their new headquarters. Artistic design was developed by Franz Matsch, an Art Nouveau painter and sculptor, while an imperial & royal court clockmaker Franz Morawetz designed the clockwork. In addition, numerous other companies and craftsmen were commissioned for the development and construction of the clock. The completion of the clock was postponed since the First World War had begun. The Ankeruhr's first trail run was on August 18, 1915n the birthday of the emperor, but after two trails it was stopped because it had been decided that the clock will run again only after the war. The end of the war brought the end of the monarchy as well, and with it, some of the figures that were used to praise the House of Habsburg were no more popular. Therefore, the clock was just turned on, without any ceremony, and the Emperor's Anthem was removed from the music program. During the Second World War, the Ankeruhr was heavily damaged.  Eleven years after the end of the war, it was repaired, but the organ with 800 pipes could not be fixed, and it was replaced by a digital sound system.

Picture © Credits to Wikipedia / Herbály István
Picture © Credits to Wikipedia / Herbály István

Design

The Ankeruhr is a ten meters long and seven meters high bridge-like connection between the two buildings of Ankerhof (Headquarter of the insurance company "Der Anker”). The diameter of the clock itself is four meters. The bridge is supported by four figural consoles with Adam and Eve at the front and the angels and devils at the back. For every clock, there is a cooper 2.60 or 2.80 meters high figure (including three double figures). They are the depictions of popular historical personalities, which slide over a linear scale in one hour.  The designer wanted to show how quickly time passes by, which corresponds to the very nature of insurance. Above every figure, the Roman numbers are showing the exact hour, and the horizontal scale over it shows the minutes. An unusual thing about it is that the time is not distributed over a circle but a horizontal distance. At every full, the hour figures are changing accompanied by suitable background music. The highlight is at noon, when all figures parade from one to the other side of the clock, accompanied by a piece of music matching the figure.

Franz Matsch was personally responsible for the choice of figures. He tried to select famous people who had a special influence on the history of Vienna, such as Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Prince Eugene of Savoy, Empress Maria Theresia & Francis I and Joseph Haydn.

Today, the Ankeruhr is a very famous tourist attraction, and if you are in Vienna, you should know that it’s always the right time for Ankeruhr, Vienna's famous clock. It is easily reachable by all means of public transportation since it is located in the city centre.


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The author

Ogi Savic

Ogi Savic

I am Ogi. A journalist and economist, I live in Vienna and I am passionate about skiing, traveling, good food and drinks. I write about all these aspects (and more) of beautiful Austria.

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