Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Model of Astronomical Clock in Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Astronomical Clock

Model of Astronomical Clock in Strasbourg Cathedral

This exhibit is a working model of the astronomical clock from Strasbourg Cathedral and was built by Richard Smith in 1889 for the centenary of NSW. Smith had never seen the original his work was based on detailed descriptions and pictures of the original.

The clock can be seen in operation, every five minutes before the hour, the twelve apostles who symbolise the passing of the twelve hours of the day parade in the top part of the clock. When Peter and Judas appear, Satan’s figure also appears in the window to the left of the figure of Jesus. When Peter appears, the cock crows three times.

Every quarter of an hour, the figures of the four ages change. There is also a display of the moon phases and the tides plus the position of the planets, in a dial formation. The case of the clock is decorated with various allegorical figures, including portraits of Nicolaus Copernicus.

Strasbourg Cathedral Astronomical Clock - Diliff

The original Strasbourg Cathedral Astronomical Clock

Strasbourg Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Strasbourg, France whose construction started 1015. Although considerable parts of it are in Romanesque architecture, it is considered to be among the finest examples of high, or late, Gothic architecture. The cathedral’s south transept houses an 18-metre astronomical clock, one of the largest in the world. The current clock dates from 1843 and its main features are the automata, a perpetual calendar, a planetary dial, a display of the Sun and the Moon, and solar and lunar eclipses. The main attraction is the procession of the 18 inch high figures of Christ and the Apostles, which occurs every day at solar noon.

Model of Astronomical Clock in Strasbourg Cathedral

  • Title:               Model of Astronomical Clock in Strasbourg Cathedral
  • Date:               1887-1889
  • Built by:         Richard Bartholomew Smith (1862-1942)
  • Museum:       Powerhouse Museum

Explore the Powerhouse Museum

Explore Sydney Museums


“We are all visitors to this time, this place.
We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe,
to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.”

– Australian Aboriginal saying


Photo Credit: By Museumsfotografierer (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons