Before we were able to tell time by glancing at our wrists, reaching into our pockets, or calling out to “Siri,” the local clock tower was how many people marked their days. Because they were highly visible civic resources, many clock towers saw a remarkable level of craftsmanship and attention to detail. In light of the recent restoration of perhaps the world’s most famous example—Elizabeth Tower, known to most as Big Ben—and the recent interest in the future of daylight saving time, here are some of the our favorite elevated time pieces around the world. Some are truly old, others merely harken back to the period when clock towers were central to daily life.
Along a side street in Tbilisi, Georgia, is a precarious-looking structure that most visitors approach with trepidation. The Leaning Tower of Tbilisi hangs over the alley, propped up by a beam. The modern tower took four years to make—from the hands and mind of a puppeteer, using rubble from a major earthquake in 2002. Thousands of miles away, towering over the capital of the Philippines is the Manila Clock Tower, known as the “Big Ben of the Phillippines.” Its bell rings three times a day—twice during break hours and once to signal the close of business. From a pubic timekeeper that didn’t work for 96 years but now ticks again to one that reenacts the heroics of a mayor who saved his town by drinking a gallon of wine, here are some of our favorite, most unique clock towers.