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Clock tower

Historic site and monument, Historic patrimony, Tower, Renaissance in Arles

  • Date: 1558
    Era: Renaissance
    Type: Public communal architecture
    Status: Property of the town of Arles, listed as a national Historic Monument in 1920
    The Tower viewed from the Place de la République
    Although the Clock Tower now seems like to be an integral part of the hôtel de ville, more than a century actually separates the construction of the two buildings.
    It was in fact constructed in the mid-16th century, to replace an older tower.
    During a particularly prosperous period in the history...
    Date: 1558
    Era: Renaissance
    Type: Public communal architecture
    Status: Property of the town of Arles, listed as a national Historic Monument in 1920
    The Tower viewed from the Place de la République
    Although the Clock Tower now seems like to be an integral part of the hôtel de ville, more than a century actually separates the construction of the two buildings.
    It was in fact constructed in the mid-16th century, to replace an older tower.
    During a particularly prosperous period in the history of Arles, its construction complied with the will of consuls wanting to affirm their power.
    The Tower therefore sits imposingly in the heart of the town, next to the town hall of the municipal officials, and opposite the bell tower of Saint Trophime Cathedral, itself a symbol of religious power.
    Its architecture is typically Renaissance and largely inspired by Antiquity, which became a great source of inspiration and curiosity in the town during this period.
    Elevation of the Tower,
    integrated into the north-east corner of the hôtel de ville
    The architectural structure of the Clock Tower and its antique décor imitate the Roman Mausoleum of Les Antiques in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
    Its entablatures with sculpted friezes, fluted columns and Ionic and Corinthian capitals are particularly sophisticated.
    Four clocks, only one of which remains, were installed in the upper part of the tower.
    Inside were several bells (one large and two small), which rang at important times in the life of the town and particularly as a warning.
    The highly sophisticated mechanism of the clocks took up most of the space. A bell rang on the hour. This bell was melted down on several occasions and each time had the names of the new consuls engraved on it.
    The rotunda above is surmounted by 'the bronze man', a statue representing the god Mars, another evocation of Antiquity. It was created in 1555 by Laurent Vincent, an Avignon foundry owner.
    It is said that it was made with bronze from the canons that the army of Charles V abandoned during its incursion in 1536.
    During the Revolution, the 'bronze man' was almost removed and melted down to make arms.
    The conservation of the Tower and its integration during the construction of the hôtel de ville were in accordance with the consuls' wishes.
    The chosen solution is one of Jules Hardouin Mansart's contributions to the project.
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