When it was built around 1218–20, the Zytglogge served as the gate tower of Bern's western fortifications. These were erected after the city's first westward expansion following its de facto independence from the Empire. At that time, the Zytglogge was a squat building of only 16 metres (52 ft# in height. When the rapid growth of the city and the further expansion of the fortifications #up to the Käfigturm# relegated the tower to second-line status at around 1270–75, it was heightened by 7 metres #23 ft) to overlook the surrounding houses.
Only after the city's western defences were extended again in 1344–46 up to the now-destroyed Christoffelturm, the Zytglogge was converted to a women's prison, notably housing Pfaffendirnen – "priests' whores", women convicted of sexual relations with clerics. At this time, the Zytglogge also received its first slanted roof.
The Zytglogge as shown on a 1542 glass painting.
In the great fire of 1405, the tower burnt out completely. It suffered severe structural damage that required thorough repairs, which were not complete until after the last restoration in 1983. The prison cells were abandoned and a clock was first installed above the gate in the early 15th century, probably including a simple astronomical clock and musical mechanism. This clock, together with the great bell cast in 1405, gave the Zytglogge its name, which in Bernese German means "time bell".
D700 w/ 17-35 f/2.8 Zoom @ 22mm. f/7.1, 1/200, ISO 200. Processed in Capture NX2 with perspective correction in Photoshop CS6 Extended.
My Nikonians Gallery
"Nikonians membership - My most important photographic investment, after the
Retirement is a gift of time - Don't waste it!
Old age is a special gift that very few receive. Be thankful if you get it.