I have many hobbies, and one of them is sundial hunting. A few years ago, I spent about a month in Switzerland visiting as many historic sites as I could and, as a fun little side project, I photographed as many sundials as I could fine. Here are some nice ones:
Our first sundial is a fairly classic example spotted in Geneva. This was found on the corner pillar of a building in the historic part of town, with a Geneva flag fluttering nearby. This Old Faithful will tell you the time, but it certainly won’t wow any passing tourists.
Our second example was spotted above a fountain, also in Geneva.This one is a little more artistic and reminds the viewer of what awaits when time has finally run its course. It’s a beautiful use of a modern artistic style mixed with a medieval subject that is very common in Switzerland. Have you ever wondered why Eeyore is always so depressed?
Confession time: I cheated a little bit. Our third sundial was actually spotted in France, in the Chateau de Joux. Europe’s a small place and borders are easily hopped, so I think it should still count. This simple yet effective design helpfully reminds us that the sun rules all (at least in our little neck of the universe, I suppose).
Number four is also from the Chateau de Joux. Sorry about the terrible picture, but this sundial was painted on to the outer wall of the fortress, which was modified at some point by Vauban. If you’re familiar at all with Vauban’s work, you’ll understand that I couldn’t get close enough to get a good picture because no one gets close to one of Vauban’s walls.
The modern art aficionados over at Gruyère decided to take a whole new artistic approach to the sundial concept by placing it on an inner wall and omitting the gnomon. In this case, function is sacrificed for form.
Number six was found on the wall of a church build next to Schloss Thun, in the German (ptui) side of Switzerland. Thun, by the way, is a great place to go if you’ve ever wanted a really good illustration of the role terrain plays in the castle defence. The schloss is built at the top of a hill that’ll definitely test the mettle of even the bravest knight. In any case, this sundial features a dual gnomon, one to tell the time and the other to do something involving the zodiac – I assume it tracks the seasons?
Chateau Chillon, on the other hand, doesn’t need a sundial. That’s because Chillon boasts an extremely badass mechanical clock originally built in 1543! You can see that giant bad boy on the larger tower in the photo above. If you visit the castle, one part of the tour takes you into that tower and you can actually see the mechanism that powers the clock (rebuilt in the 19th century).