Viljandi Town Hall's clock designated a cultural monument

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Viljandi Town Hall and clock tower. Source: Ivo Kruusamägi

Viljandi Town Hall's tower clock, which was installed in 1932, has been designated as a cultural monument. The clock was ordered from the AEG factory and is now a rarity.

The tower clock is a unique example of a clock mechanism from the 1930s and a characteristic detail of the historical city center. There are no other timepieces in Estonia that have been designated as cultural monuments. Clocks, which were once popular, are a rarity today and this clock may be the only one of its kind that has survived and is still operating today, the Minister of Culture said in a statement.

The clock was produced by the Germany company AEG, one of the world's leading electronics factories, and it was probably designed by Peter Behrens, a famous architect and designer.

Viljandi bought the modern, automatic electric clock after the reconstruction of the Viljandi town hall building was completed in 1931 and it became the first modern town hall in Estonia. At the time, the clock with four dials was bought for 4,500 Estonian kroons and installed in the town hall tower. And it has been working ever since. 

Viljandi Town Hall tower clock. Source: Ministry of Culture.

The clock is comprised of the following: the mother clock on the first floor of the townhall; the auxiliary clock drive on the third floor that activates the striking mechanism; the electrical system that connects the various parts of the clock; and the striking hammer and original dials of the daughter clock. The clock strikes once on the half hour, and according to the number of hours on the full hour.

The historic mother clock on the ground floor of the town hall has been disconnected from the system, but operates independently and is also an important interior detail in its current location.

"The precondition for providing state protection for an object is that its cultural value represents a valuable part of Estonia's material cultural heritage. Viljandi Town Hall's almost 90-year-old clock is not only unique in Estonia, but in the context of Europe generally," said Minister of Culture Anneli Ott.

"Such a rarity, which has survived in its original form, definitely deserves to be designated as a technical monument, and taken under protection," she added.

The Viljandi Town Hall clock belongs to the City of Viljandi. The proposal to designate the clock as a cultural monument was made by Ülo Stöör, a Viljandi resident, in November of 2018. 

Inside the clock tower Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

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Editor: Helen Wright

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