Do you know a story about the last public clock in the world that shows lunar time? No, it is not in some of the Middle East countries, it is in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.
The Sarajevo Clock Tower is located near the Gazi Husrev Bey Mosque and is one of the largest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Gazi Husrev Bey was one of the governors of Ottoman Bosnia and one of the biggest benefactors in the history of Sarajevo.
The tower was built in the 17th century. After the fire in 1697, when it was burned under the attack of Eugene of Savoy, the clock tower was rebuilt, as it was in 1762.
After the Austro-Hungarian occupation, an upper part of the building was added, and the clock was brought by two Sarajevo merchants from London in 1874 because the old Turkish clock had worn out.
The tower has 76 wooden steps, arranged in a square row, which a muvekit climbs once a week to set the time. People often think that the clock is not working because the time on this clock does not agree with the time on other clocks in Sarajevo. This is because the watch shows the lunar time, or time a la Turca.
According to lunar time, a new day begins at the moment of astronomical sunset. Then the clock on the tower shows 12 o’clock – when, according to this calendar, a new date is created. It also shows twelve o’clock when the sun rises in the early dawn. So even though it looks like the clock is not working, it is working according to lunar time.
The time gap (interval) between sunset and sunrise is mostly never the same, which is why it is necessary to constantly adjust this clock mechanism. Sometimes the gilded hands need a longer time, and sometimes a shorter time, to arrive at the same place at 12 in the evening when the sun rises. This clock shows midnight exactly at the moment of sunset in Sarajevo.
In 1967, the watch was repaired, and the hands and numbers were gilded. When the clock on the tower strikes 24 hours during the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan, it is time for iftar. After the first beat, candles are lit at Bey’s mosque, and after that, a cannon is traditionally fired from the White Fortress, marking the end of fasting.
The clock tower was declared a national monument in 2006.
Amina Šehović, History MA