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15 Oldest Standing Clock Towers of Iran to Visit

The oldest turret clocks in Iran that are still standing are from Naser al-Din Shah Qajar reign when some of these clocks came into Iran as a gift or were imported by the merchants to mount them on top of the towers they had built in their mosques or mansions.

The oldest clocks were installed in the British embassy, Golestan palace, Sepahsalar mosque and Moshir al-Saltaneh mosque in Tehran, the Shah Abdol-Azim Shrine in Rey, Moshir mosque and Shahcheragh shrine in Shiraz, Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad and Emad-ol-Doleh mosque in Kermanshah through Qajar dynasty. The clocks of Shahcheragh and Shah Abdol-Azim Shrines are in their museums but others are still standing though some are not working. We have described six of Qajar clocks below.

During the reign of Reza Shah more tower clocks were mounted and we have described six of them below. Three other tower clocks you can study below are set up during the reign of the second Pahlavi king Mohammad Reza Shah.

The clock towers are not just decorated with the clocks but also with amazing tilework or brickwork and as they are usually parts of a bigger and magnificent building you can visit the monument also and enjoy its beauty. For example by visiting the clock tower of Shams-ol-Emareh in Golestan palace you will visit a UNESCO world heritage complex or by visiting the clock tower of Moshir mosque in Shiraz you will marvel at Moshir mosque itself and the Sang-e Siah neighborhood of Shiraz historic district and may visit the Armenian church in front of it or the Dervishes monastery close to it.

In one of the towers in Teheran is a clock which must be wound every eight days, and a special man is employed to perform this arduous task; on Monday he winds the clock, and patiently smoking his pipe for a week, watches it run down.

by John Wishard - 1908

15 Oldest Clock Towers in Iran

Clock Tower of Golestan Palace in Tehran - 19th century

This turret clock was a gift from Queen Victoria of England to Naser al-Din Shah in 1874, which was mounted on top of  Shams-ol-Emareh, the tallest building in Tehran at the time. Since the rings of the bell of the clock was annoying for the palace residents and neighbors, it was decided to reduce its sound; Attempting to do this eventually caused this historical clock to completely stop working.

The rumor about this clock was that: There were two male and female owls nested in the chamber of this clock and it was common that every time they appear, the reign changed. The story tells that that when Naser al-Din Shah was killed, they had been out of the nest for three days, and on the third day, the king was shot and the throne passed to Muzaffaruddin Shah. What made this rumor come out was the appearance of these two owls on the 7th to 10th of September 1941 when the Allies attacked Iran, famine, killing and insecurity took place everywhere.

Moshir Mosque Clock Tower in Shiraz - 19th century

The clock of Moshir al-Molk mosque in Shiraz is the first public clock that was staged in the city and as one of the oldest standing clocks in Iran is mounted above the western portico of Moshir Mosque. There is a metal room next to the clock where the clock motor is located. This clock has two dials; The face of this clock can be seen from the west and east of the mosque. The reference marks on the mosque side dial are in Persian and the other dial facing Moshir al-Molk mansion has English marks. By the order of Mirza Abulhasan Moshir al-Molk, the clock reference marks which were originally English, were converted to Persian numbers. Around the clock is decorated with tiles and mosaics.

This clock is made in England and every 15 minutes a bell rings, and it also rings the number of hours at each hour on the hour. The ringing of this historical clock was heard wide in most parts of the city of Shiraz.

Two clocks of this model were imported into Iran, one for the Nasir al-Molk mosque and the other one for Moshir al-Molk mosque built in 1857, but the clock was too big for the tower of Nasir al-Molk mosque and they had to install it in Shahcheragh shrine. It is currently on display in its museum.

Moshir-ol-Saltaneh Mosque Clock Tower in Tehran - 19th century

The clock of Moshir al-Saltaneh mosque is installed in a mosque of the same name on Molavi street built at 1903. This Mosque is also known as the Clock Mosque as when people looked at this place from any location in Molavi Street, they could see its clock tower. This clock is one of the oldest clocks imported to Iran from Germany and is even older than the construction of the mosque.

Sepahsalar Mosque Clock Tower in Tehran - 19th century

There are two Goldasteh minarets above northern portico and the clock tower is located between them. This clock which was manufactured in France along with its three bells in 1880, is located in a chamber with a height of 5 meters, a length of 2.5 meters and a width of 1.5 meters. and is also tiled and has wooden decorations. This clock can be seen both from the central courtyard of Sepehsalar school and Baharestan mansion.

The construction of the mosque was started in 1879 upon the order of Mirza Hossein Sepahsalar, the prime minister of Iran during Naser al-Din Shah Qajar reign.

Emad-ol-Dolah Mosque Clock Tower in Kermanshah - 19th century

Emad Doula Mosque was in Qajar era in 1868 and the turret clock was a gift from England. The clock tower is built on the northern side of the mosque.

Imam Reza Shrine Clock Tower in Mashhad - 19th century

This clock, which is the first and oldest clock of the shrine, was made in Manchester in England, and was dedicated to the shrine if Imam Reza by Amin-ol-Molk, the chancellor of Iran, during the reign of Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar. The date on the clock bell shows the year 1893. This clock was first located in the tower above the west portico of the Old Square and later it was moved to the top of the south portico of New Square, its current location.

Later, they replaced this clock with the linear clock that the late Abdul Hossein Moaven had imported from Hamburg, Germany. The clock of New Square was initially set by a large clock key , and after electricity came to Mashhad, this clock was also converted to electricity operation. This clock is currently working with an electro clock motor that is wound once every 42 hours and if there is a power cut, it will be work for 42 hours.

Municipality Clock Tower in Rasht - 1929

In1923 the construction of the Rasht municipality began and three years later the same year as Pahlavi I coronation happened in the capital, they opened the municipal palace. Three years after the operation of Rasht Municipality building in 1929 and when this building was in the hands of the military, they erected the clock tower on top of the building. This tower with a height of 24 meters was used to guard and monitor the city.

The turret clock still rings the number of hours at each hour on the hour and also rings once every 30 minutes.

Anzali Port Clock Tower - 1930

The date of establishment of the Anzali Clock Tower, which is located on Sepah Street, goes back to the Qajar era, and it is actually a symbol of the city of Anzali. In 1930, during the reign of Reza Shah as the first king of Pahlavi dynasty, an order was issued to restore and rebuild the tower. A German engineer took responsibility for renovating the tower with cement mortar and bricks and placed a clock on top of the tower. This clock was ordered and imported from Germany by municipality of Anzali port and it had to be wound every 7 days.

Clock Tower Square in Sari - 1931

Sari Clock Tower was first built in 1931 in the style of Iranian and European architectural elements by German architects. This tower has a large turret clock and is equipped with bells, which rang the number of hours at each hour on the hour, and in the silence of the nights, the ringing of 12 o'clock at night could be heard wide.

The height of the clock tower reaches 25 meters. The upper part of the tower has a place for the call to prayer. The clock of this square was imported to Iran from Russia by Mirof Nami.

Vank Church Clock Tower in Isfahan - 1931

The first building that attracts the visitor's attention upon entering Vank church is the clock tower building, which is located above the entrance of the monastery and consists of three floors. On the second floor, a big clock weighing three hundred kilograms is installed, whose sound can be heard wide. On the four sides of the tower, four circular clock dials are installed, the diameter of each dial is 104 cm. This clock tower was offered as a gift by Mardiros Hordananian in 1931.

Markar Clock Tower in Yazd - 1934

Markar's historical turret clock is also known as Ferdowsi clock and dates back to 1934 as the oldest clock in the UNESCO world heritage city of Yazd. When it was decided to build a clock named after the great Iranian poet Ferdowsi in 1941, the exact location of this clock was chosen in Markar Square in Yazd that is the most central location of a clock tower on map of Iran.

The clock engine, which is made by an English company called Smith and Sons, is still working and is located at the highest point of the tower. To reach the top of the clock tower and wind the engine, one must use the wooden stairs that reach the top of the tower. Markar clock engine is wound once a week.

Information such as the date of construction, the name of the manufacturer and the name of the clock are engraved within Persian verses on its body. This clock is decorated with poems by a native poet named Nasser, and by moving clockwise and against the movement of cars, you can read the details of the construction and the poems.

Municipality Clock Tower in Tabriz - 1935

The clock tower of Tabriz was built in 1935 by the order of Arfa al-Molk and under the supervision of German engineers.A large tower with a four-faced dials has been designed in the construction of the municipal building. The sound of this clock still rings in the square every 15 minutes and is wound every 24 hours. The four face dials on the 30.4 meter tower is similar to the Big Bang clock in London. If you look at the Tabriz municipal building from above, its shape is like a flying eagle right in the center of Tabriz.

Shah Mosque Clock Tower in Tehran - 1944

Established in 1835 by the order of Fathalishah Qajar and Tehran, Shah mosque was developed and changed through the reign of different kings. The clock tower was built by Hossein Lorzadeh in 1944 and is located on the northern side between the two minaret which were built during the reign of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar.

Jame Mosque Clock Tower in Yazd - 1950

The Yazd Jame mosque clock Tower was built in the 1940s by the Yazd Municipality, after the construction of Jame Mosque Street, with a design attributed to Hoshang Sihun, a famous architect of the Pahlavi II period, and a few years later, tiling and facade construction were carried out.

This tower is built to mount a turret clock with 4 dials that was brought to Yazd by a Yazdi businessman on the order of the late Mohammad Ali Waziri. They were supposed to install the clock between the two minarets at the front of the mosque or in its courtyard but the mayor of Yazd suggested the construction of this tower and the height of the clock tower is in the same level as the portal of Yazd Jame Mosque.

This tower is considered the second clock tower in Yazd after the Markar Clock Tower, which was built under the influence of the Pahlavi adaptation of European clock towers.

Astaneh Shrine Clock Tower in Shiraz - 1976

In 1967 a beautifully tiled tower was built by the shrine of Seyed Alaeddin Husayn in Shiraz and a turret clock with four dial and bells was installed on top of it.

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