The Torrazzo is Europe’s highest medieval bell tower in brick: 122.217 meters high, it is sports a double-barrel construction consisting of two towers, one inserted in the other; a staircase of 502 steps runs in the cavity. Externally the tower is divided into two parts that allow one to read the stylistic episodes: the lower part, with a square base, on whose construction period there is no reliable data, is marked by a series of planes marked by frames decorated with intertwined blind arches, on which rest the openings of made up of monofora, bifora, and quadrifora leading to the terminal loggia; the upper part consists of the garland, built between 1284 and 1305 in Gothic style, created by the superposition of two octagonal drums, scaled and marked by round arches and by the conical cusp.
The astronomical clock, a true mechanical masterpiece, was begun in 1582, the year of the Gregorian reform of the calendar, by Giovanni Francesco and Giovanni Battista Divizioli, while the decoration of the clock face was entrusted to the painters Giovanni Battista Dordoni and Martire Pesenti. A series of repaintings followed through the course of the centuries, up to the most recent necessary restorations (1974), for the mechanical part Vincenzo and Pietro Ferraroni; for the astronomical calculation Achille Leani; and for the decorative part – the zodiac band – Mario Busini. The documents also nominate Janello Torriani (1550-1585), a famous Cremonese mathematician and inventor, as curator of the clock. He was a builder himself of several automatic and mechanic watches for the Emperor and King of Spain Charles V.
Rings and indexes
How to read
- Ring of days, constellations and degreesFrom outside to inside
- Ring of the zodiac signsin counterclockwise order
- Rings of months and daysthe light and dark notches indicate the succession of days, grouped in decades; they vary at the end of the month.
- Index of solar motionIndicates the position of the sun on the rings of the day, month, constellation and zodiacal housing
- Index of lunar motionThe moon phase is displayed in the opening. The ring is divided into 29 and a half spaces that indicate the day of the lunation phase.
- Earth's hourly indexThe central disk represents the Earth, the rod marks the time on the outer ring.
- Index of the Dragon - HeadIndicates eclipses of the sun and the moon when it overlaps with other orbits. Indicates the position of the lunar ascending node.
- Index of the Dragon - TailIndicates the position of the lunar descending node
- Dragon Index - completeThe index of the Dragon's head and tail are symmetrical. The complete turn lasts 18 years and 11 days
The torrazzo hosts a concert of 7 bells, the smallest weighing 465 kg and the largest 3,270 kg. They are intoned in the key of A-flat major and an eighth bell called the bell of the hours is visible on the terrace at the summit, it was called the beating “D” and bears the date 1581. Each of the bells was assigned a saint connected to a note:
- St. Barbara Eurasia – A-flat
- St. Anthony of Padova – F
- St. Nicola of Tolentino – E-flat
- St. Agatha – D-flat
- S. Teresa – C
- S. Maria Lauretana – B-flat
- Sts. Homobonus and Himerius (protectors of Cremona) – A-flat, note the central bell, the most important one.
These clappers are the original of the first concert. The originals were recast in 1744 by the milanese Bartolomeo Bozzi.