Infamous and Famous: Clock Towers

Whether known for greatness or tragedy, these famous clock towers are worth knowing about.


Throughout history and entertainment, there have been famous clock towers that have captured the fascination of people. Standing as monuments that count down the hours of days, clock towers symbolize the hope for a better tomorrow. They remind us that time is limited, to never be late for an appointment, and that each day — whether we will live to see it or not — will follow the same rhythm of ticking seconds and hours.


As such, there are famous clock towers in nearly every corner of the world, real and imagined. And these famous clock towers are adorned with stories just as grand, once again with some being real and others imagined.


What infamy and wonder await in the tales of clock towers new and old?


Elizabeth Tower

A picture of Elizabeth Tower (aka "Big Ben"), undoubtedly one of the most famous clock towers in the world. (from: Pexels/Naveen Annam)

  • Nickname: Big Ben, formerly known as “The Great Clock of Westminster”
  • Location: London, England
  • Height: 316 Feet
  • Moment of Fame: The clock tower is famously included in movies, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  • Moment of Infamy: In 1880, Elizabeth Tower’s insides once served as a prison for an atheist refusing to swear a religious oath to the queen.


Elizabeth Tower, almost exclusively referred to as Big Ben, is among the most famous landmarks in the modern world. As such, it has been featured in many popular films and shows up in nearly every tourist’s selfie collection. The result is a famous clock tower with some pretty bizarre mythology surrounding it. Did a UFO crash into Big Ben? Will Big Ben explode? Of course not, but constantly seeing it depicted in extreme circumstances due to movies will ensure these myths endure.


Wikipedia Page / Official Site


Abraj Al Bait

The Abraj Al Bait Makkah Clock Royal Tower with clear skies. (from: Pexels/Dimas Naufal F)

  • Nickname: Makkah Clock Royal Tower
  • Location: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
  • Height: 1,972 Feet
  • Moment of Fame: It is the 4th tallest building in the world and tallest in Saudi Arabia.
  • Moment of Infamy: The Abraj Al Bait was hit by two fires during construction, the first destroying several stories of the tower and taking nearly a half-day to repair.


Relatively new, at least in the world of clock towers, the Abraj Al Bait was finished in 2012. Sitting at about 300 meters from Mecca’s famous mosque, the Abraj Al Bait contains a five-star hotel and makes for a great resting place for Muslims on their pilgrimage. It’s surprisingly affordable, with Expedia’s Makkah Towers listing giving an expected price of only $381 per night.


Wikipedia Page


Prague Orloj

An up close view of the Prague Astronomical clock. (from: Pexels/Efrem Efre)

  • Nickname: Prague Astronomical Clock
  • Location: Prague, Czech Republic
  • Height: 228 Feet 
  • Moment of Fame: Holds the title of oldest astronomical clock still in operation (though it has “been down” a few times).
  • Moment of Infamy: During a 2022 restoration, figures on the clock were changed in appearance, possibly to look like the restorer’s friends and family.


The Prague Orloj, also called the Prague Astronomical Clock, is a complex clock consisting of many parts including a 24-number clock, a calendar, and moving figurines. The moving parts create a sort of “play” with the “actors” representing Death, Vanity, Lust, and Greed. On an hourly basis Death, in the form of a skeleton, rings away the previous hour to the horror of the others.


Wikipedia Page / Official Site



Worth Avenue Clock Tower

The Worth Avenue Clock Tower on an afternoon with a beautiful sunset in Florida. (from: Pexels/Omar Shinez)

  • Location: Palm Beach, Florida, USA
  • Height: 25 Feet
  • Moment of Fame: Monument to Palm Beach Pier, destroyed in a hurricane nearly a 100 years ago.
  • Moment of Infamy: This one is just a lovely spot… so far!

Florida, US state known for hurricanes, has lost quite a lot over the past century to waves and winds. The clock tower at Palm Beach was built in 2010 to commemorate the loss of a pier at the same spot in 1930. Without controversy so far, the Worth Avenue Clock Tower is frequently visited at sunset by honeymooners, tourists, and passersby for selfies and pictures. With other hurricanes on the horizon, who knows how long it will survive?


Wikipedia Page



UT Tower

A picture of the University of Texas, Austin's clock tower, seen through nearby trees. (from: Unsplash/Dan Dennis)

  • Nickname: The Tower, also called “The Main Building”
  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA
  • Height: 307 Feet
  • Moment of Fame: Stands as a symbol of the University of Texas, Austin.
  • Moment of Infamy: Site of the University of Texas tower shooting in 1966.

The UT Tower represents the academic progress of the students of the University of Texas, Austin, and also serves as a pretty great reminder to get to classes on time. In a grim historic note, the UT Tower was the site of a mass shooting in 1966. The perpetrator was found to have a tumor in his brain, which many believe may have contributed to his aggression leading up to the murders on that day.


Wikipedia Page / Official Site



Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower

  • Nickname: Met Life Tower
  • Location: 5 Madison Ave., NYC, USA
  • Height: 700 Feet
  • Moment of Fame: Named a National Historic Landmark in 1978.
  • Moment of Infamy: N/A

Part of the NYC skyline, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower is a large testament to the power of time in a city that supposedly never sleeps. The tower’s four clocks, which are much larger than it appears, have minute and hour hands that are 1,000 and 700 pounds respectively.


Wikipedia Page



Clock Tower in Tilted Towers

A player aims at Fortnite's clock tower in tilted towers.

  • Nickname: “That building with the clock.”
  • Location: D5, D6, Athena, Fortnite
  • Height: Unknown
  • Moment of Fame: Fortnite has an estimated 250 million monthly players.
  • Moment of Infamy: Destroyed multiple times. Most recently in v20.30 as part of an ongoing war. Also, Fortnite. If you hate Fortnite, you probably hate this clock tower.

It might seem rather bizarre to have a fictional place in a listing of famous clock towers. But then came Fortnite, a game that sees over 250 million players each month. Contrast this to Big Ben, which gets 5 million visitors per year. Love it or hate it, the Clock Tower of Tilted Towers is the most famous clock tower in the world by far and will undoubtedly influence the design decisions of the engineers of tomorrow.


Wiki Page

Famous Clock Towers — Conclusion

There’s no way we could cover all of the famous clock towers of the world, digital or otherwise, in just one sitting. Which ones did we miss that we have to add when we come back to this article later? Let us known in the comments below!

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