Square in Lucerne
The Kornmarkt is a plaza in Lucerne, where people engaged in the trading of grains from 1356 until the late 1800s. The town hall, standing adjacent to the tower, encompassed the grain trading exchange on its ground floor.
Several noteworthy features grace this locale, starting with the Furren Tower. This medieval tower, reaching a height of 134 feet or 41 meters, once operated as a watchtower and formed an integral part of the old Gothic town hall. Apart from its observational role, the tower once functioned as a dungeon. Over many centuries, a watchman dutifully occupied the tower each night, a time predating the existence of fire and police departments. The watchman’s responsibilities encompassed fire checks, alerting the townspeople, and street patrolling. Returning to the tower every hour on the dot, the night watchman announced the time, stating something along the lines of “this is the lookout” as the bell tolled the hour. The practice of having night watchmen in Lucerne ceased in the early 1900s. Nevertheless, a night watchman still serves in Switzerland, stationed in the town of Lausanne.
The clock adorning the tower dates back to 1788, with historical evidence suggesting that the tower has housed a clock since the early 1400s. In the 1500s, the clock underwent an upgrade, incorporating two wheels: the weight wheel and the escapement wheel. The weight wheel made a complete revolution every hour, influencing the hour wheel – the sole clock hand. Subsequent enhancements introduced two additional mechanisms: one for the quarter hour and the other for the full hour. Remarkably, the clock remains devoid of a minute hand. However, it features a moon hand, signalling the phases of the moon, whether half, full, waning, or waxing.
Lucerne’s Town Hall
Integrated with the tower stands Lucerne’s town hall, known as the Rathaus, which translates to “advice house.” This is where the Lucerne City Council convenes. The architecture of the building is distinctive, uniting Swiss farm roofing with Renaissance aesthetics. On the external facade of the building’s left side, two Corinthian columns bear statues symbolizing justice and moderation. On the opposing side, towards the building’s end, two iron bars catch the eye. Many centuries ago, these bars served as measuring tools. One represented the “Ell,” equivalent to the distance between an elbow and a fingertip, approximately 2 feet or around 60 centimeters. The other was the “Fuss,” a variable measure ranging from 23 to 40 centimetres.
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