Vienna’s secret noontime ritual

Every day at noon, folks in-the-know gather in front of the Anchor Clock (above) in Vienna, Austria.

There is no exciting maritime story behind this clock’s name; Der Anker just happened to be the insurance company to which it is attached. Back in the early 1900s, Derk Anker had bought themselves two buildings which were right next door to each other and wanted a meaningful way to connect them. What could be more meaningful than an animated clock? (Don’t answer that.)

That’s right, it’s animated. This clock was built by Franz Matsch between 1911 and 1917 and it features 12 full minutes of extremely slow entertainment. The character you see in front of the clock face is one of many historical figures, and they rotate all day long, very slowly, each at his or her own appointed hour. At noon, they all cycle through once while classical, Viennese-composed music plays for twelve minutes. From what I hear, even the music is the same as it was over a hundred years ago.

Here’s a two-minute snippet of the rotation:
You get the idea. It’s not exactly like watching paint dry, but it’s closer to that than, say, watching Die Hard.

It might have been a lot more exciting a hundred years ago, but it’s still fun to gather with the crowd and watch the Anchor Clock.

My visit to Vienna was sponsored by the Vienna Tourist Board and Cool Capitals, but the opinions expressed in the article are 100% my own.