The city of Messina is known not only for food like ice cream, granita or arancini but also for the very famous mechanical clock that is inside the bell tower next to the Cathedral.
It is considered the largest and most complex mechanical and astronomical clock in the world. The bell tower was rebuilt after the terrible earthquake of Messina in 1908, one of the most catastrophic events of the 20th century. This monument is ca. 60 meters high and contains a magnificent dynamic jewel, which was commissioned to the well-known firm Ungerer of Strasbourg in 1933.
Every day at noon tourists and citizens stop here to admire the moving statues. This spectacle lasts about 12 minutes.
Let’s describe them from the bottom. Well, I’ll try do it!
The days of the week are represented. Greek figures drive a cart pulled by a meaningful animal.
Then, four statues symbolize four ages of life.
But from a religious point of view, the most important scene depicts Our Lady of the Letter, patron saint of Messina. Here an angel gives the sacred letter to the Virgin Mary and six ambassadors are bowing to pay homage to her.
Historical facts are performed too. Two heroines, named Dina and Clarenza, ring the bells every quarter of hour. They stand sideways, recalling the fight of the Sicilians against the Angevins. The rooster, that is in the middle, moves flapping its wings at 12 o’ clock.
In the highest part of the bell tower, there is a lion roaring three times moving its tail and head.
Moreover, the bell tower has a moon, a solar system indicating the lunar phases divided into two gold and black parts.
In the end, it is complicated to write down about this amazing mechanism. If you missed this wonder by chance, I suggest to reach the Cathedral Square and get an idea. Listen to the touching Ave Maria by Schubert while the mechanism is working. I am sure you won’t be disappointed with it!