The anchor clock – a clock shows time and history of Vienna

Die ankeruhr

© CC BY-SA 4.0

Thomas Ledl – Own work

Anchor clock, Hoher Markt, Vienna – File:Anchor clock, Hoher Markt, Vienna.jpg – Wikimedia Commons What is the significance of the anchor watch? Why and when was it built? How to interpret the symbolism? Who was the architect of the beautiful art nouveau clock?

Every day, punctually at 12 noon , guests from all over the world gather in front of the anchor clock at the Hoher Markt? Why? Twelve important historical figures of Austrian history turn a complete round in the clock within 15 minutes with appropriate musical accompaniment. It starts with Marcus Aurelius and the Roman period in Vienna and goes up to Joseph Haydn’s “Creation”. Maria Theresa and husband must not be missing, of course.

What details can you see? The time is displayed on a horizontal bar. Every hour is announced with a sonorous tone . The clock has a span of 10m and a height of 7.5m. The sun is enthroned above the clock, flanked by a child with a butterfly on the left (symbol of birth and life) and with an hourglass and skull on the right(symbol of death and elapsed time). Below the clock is the Basilisk – a Viennese legendary figure. The mosaic on the dial shows the coat of arms of the old Viennese civic flag as well as twelve escutcheons with symbols from professional and private life.

The figure program thus shows the transience of life and is thus probably intended to point to the conclusion of a corresponding insurance policy.

What famous figures can you see?

  1. Marcus Aurelius
  2. Charlemagne
  3. Leopold VI the Glorious with Theodora
  4. Walter von der Vogelweide, minnesinger
  5. Rudolf of Habsburg
  6. Cathedral master builder Hans Puchsbaum
  7. Emperor Maximilian
  8. Mayor Johann Andreas von Liebenberg
  9. Count Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg
  10. Prince Eugene of Savoy
  11. Maria Theresa and husband Franz Stephan of Lorraine
  12. Joseph Haydn



The insurance company “Der Anker” bought the area in 1861 and had the representative Ankerhof built. Actually, it is a bridge that connects both parts of the anchor yard (the


former insurance company , now Helvetia). The Art Nouveau decoration of the clock is by the artist Franz Matsch (a colleague of Gustav Klimt) . The clockwork is from the

k.u.k. Court and chamber clockmaker Franz Morawetz. The anchor clock was built from 1911-14.

The anchor clock is located at the Hoher Markt, one of the oldest squares in Vienna , which was already populated in Roman times . The nearby Roman Museum bears witness to this fact In the Middle Ages, the courthouse, the so-called Schranne with pillory and place of execution was located here. Later there were guild and patrician houses here. The baroque “Vermählungsbrunnen” (Marriage Fountain ) (built in 1729-32 by Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach) in the center of the square is also worth seeing.

The clock was completely restored in 2005 and is now a listed monument . At Christmas time, Christmas carols are played at 17h and 18h.

Time Travel Tip
Arrive at the clock shortly before 12 noon to see and photograph the spectacle from the front row. At the Hoher Markt there is a good sausage stand and a good ice cream parlor. The “Bermuda Triangle” just around the corner, also offers you a variety of restaurants for lunch afterwards.

More info: History & Idea | Helvetia



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