Sunday, 15 September 2019

Lund Cathedral and Astronomical Clock

Lund Cathedral (previously also shown/mentioned here in a post from the Third Day of my summer road trip in July this year) dates back to the early 12th century (and there was probably a cathedral in the same spot even earlier). Back in those days the province of Skåne was Danish; and before the Reformation the churches and cathedrals were of course Catholic. (Nowadays it belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden.) Lund was an important cultural and religious city in the Middle Ages and back in those days there were also several monasteries etc.

Because of fires and whatever other reasons, various changes were made to the cathedral over the years. Only the apse has remained unchanged (i.e. the rounded part where the altar is). 

Around 1425, an astronomical clock was installed. It has had to be renovated several times over the years (last in 2010), but is still (or again) working. I promised in my earlier post that I would get back to this clock more in detail some time - and now it's Time!

In Latin the clock is called Horologium mirabile Lundense

The upper board of the clock shows, among other things, the different phases of the Moon and where the Sun sets.The lower board is a calendar, with the help of which one can calculate things like when mobile religious holidays (like Easter) will fall, or the weekday of a certain date. The man in the middle of the calendar is the Patron Saint of the cathedral, St Lawrence (St Lars in Swedish).

The present calendar board is for 1923-2123 (after that, it will have to be replaced with a new one).

On top of the clock there are two knights who mark the hours by coming out to fight each other.

Twice a day (weekdays at noon and at 3 pm, Sundays at 1 pm and at 3 pm) the clock plays a tune (In Dulci Jubilo), and things happen with the figures in the middle of the clock:

The two guardians lift their horns, the door on the left opens, a procession of six figures present gifts to the holy Virgin and Child sitting on the throne in the middle, and then disappear back into the clock through the door to the right.

My brother and I first visited the cathedral earlier in the morning, before 10 am - but decided to go back for the "clock show" at 12. I'm glad we did, as it was a rare experience. (As it was the tourist season, there were a lot of people gathered then, and a guide to explain what was going to happen, both in Swedish and in English.)

Inspired Sunday #333

InSPIREd Sunday


  1. I have never seen or read about or even heard of a clock like this one. it is truly amazing. I would love to see the noon show time. or clock time. before I read a word I picked as my most favorite pic and part of the church, the rounded part. it seems I picked the oldest part of the church. it is lovely

  2. ...beautiful, the clock is something that I'm never seen. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This would have been a great post even without the clock! The cathedral is so impressive! Is picture #4 the outside of the apse? Is this still used as a weekly church? Do they have a regular attendance? The clock is a marvel! It must have taken forever to create it.

    1. Yes & yes. The church is open for visitors daily, but not during services. Then "tourists" are asked to either leave, or stay to participate in the service (but not wander around). No doubt this is also why the clock show on Sundays is set to 1 pm (while on weekdays it takes place at 12). As for how many people attend services in the cathedral on a regular basis, I have no idea. It is not the only church in the city.

  4. Nice church and a clock worth going to see in the church

  5. It's a wonderful monument to the astronomers of the 1400s. Given my dislike of war and confrontation and the churches of all denominations role in many of histories conflicts, I would have preferred that they had had a more peaceful representation that two knights fighting every hour.

    1. Graham, if I remember correctly what the guide in the cathedral said about the knights on top of the clock, I think the two knights were supposed to represent day vs night, and making a point of that neither of them ever really defeats the other!

    2. Yes. That would make sense. I should perhaps have thought of it.


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