A ritual for travelers around Europe is to gather at noon and see old medieval clock towers shift into action for a show that — centuries ago — was impressive. It’s generally pretty anticlimactic by modern standards: A rooster crows, a statue of Jesus stiffly offers a blessing as a carousel of Apostles jolts into motion, the Grim Reaper tips his annoying hourglass, and a jester dings his dong.
In an attempt to give the show a little more razzle-dazzle, here’s a look at the actual gears behind the scenes. Imagine the wow factor of this mechanical spectacle if you were a pilgrim passing through Bern in 1530.
(This clip was filmed with the help of Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli, the brilliant photographer who shoots most of the gorgeous photographs we use on the Rick Steves website, and my local guide Marie-Therese Lauper, who loves to show off her town’s clock tower.)