The Gros-Horloge or Great Clock cannot be dissociated from the surrounding buildings, since their history is so intimately linked.
Since its construction in the late 14th century, the Gothic belfry has housed the town’s bells and clock, the latter being a simple mechanism meant to sound the bells on the hour, half-hour and quarter-hour.
In 1409; a clock face was installed on the archway over a gate in the ancient Roman walls. The current archway and clock faces, were rebuilt between 1527-1529. On the two Renaissance clock faces, a single hand indicates the hour. Under the number VI, a divinity associated with the day of the week appears at noon on a chariot. Above the clock face, a globe indicates the phase of the moon. Many depictions of sheep show the importance of the wool trade in Rouen and the Paschal Lamb, which has been part of Rouen’s coat of arms since the 14th century, is represented on the underside of the arch.
The gouverneur de l’Horloge, or clock keeper, was responsible for its maintenance and lived in the small loggia next to the archway. A Louis XV fountain is the final object of note here. It depicts the love between the river god Alpheus and the nymph Arethusa.
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