World’s most beautiful clock towers

A welcoming view in San Francisco San Francisco’s Ferry Building, a Beaux-Arts building with a 245ft-tall tower, was the city’s primary point for arrivals and departures between 1898 and the late 1930s, when the Golden Gate and Bay bridges were built. Inside, a 660ft-long skylit atrium that once provided access to ferries now houses shops and restaurants, including Blue Bottle Coffee and the Asian restaurant Slanted Door. It is especially crowded on Saturday mornings when a farmers’ market takes over the space in front and in the rear of the building, overlooking the bay. (Julie Clarke-Bush) Colombia's grand gateway From a mosque-like tower in Malaysia to one of London’s most iconic structures, these five landmarks were designed to stand the test of time. In Colombia, the four-sided Torre del Reloj gate grants access to the most charming part of Cartagena – a walled section of 18th-century mansions, leafy squares and street cafes. The tower and clock were added in 1888; in the foreground, a statue of city founder Pedro de Heredia keeps watch. (Guillermo Vasquez/Flickr) Prague’s macabre mainstay Clockmaker Hanuš, who perfected Prague’s Old Town Hall Tower in 1490, was supposedly blinded so that he wouldn’t make a more beautiful version elsewhere. As the perfect revenge, Hanuš stopped the clock from functioning, and it was 100 years before someone would figure out how to repair it. The clock is known for its 12 marching apostles; a skeleton on the right, depicting Death, starts the show by pulling on a string and looking at his other hand, in which he holds an hourglass. Then, two windows open, allowing the apostles to make their moves. A magnificent late-Gothic door in the adjacent house serves as the main entrance to the Old Town Hall. (Reed Kaestner/Corbis) Moorish notes in Malaysia Completed in 1897 by the British colonial administration, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building anchors Kuala Lumpur’s Merdeka Square. Its Moorish style can be attributed to the mosques that architect AC Norman observed while in India. The Union Jack flag was replaced by the Malaysian flag on 31 August 1957, and many national events have taken place here since. (Boris Henriot) A storied sight in London “Big Ben” was originally a nickname used for the gargantuan bell inside the London clock tower. These days, the moniker refers to the bell, the clock face and the 315ft tower too – though the beloved icon was officially renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012, as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebration. Built from the inside out, the stone and granite tower got its finishing touch with the clock tower’s installation in 1859. The cast-iron minute hands proved too heavy, so they were replaced with today’s lighted copper hands. (Paul Hardy/Corbis)

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