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Horloge Astronomique

  • © ©A.Lonchamps, CMN
  • © ©A.Lonchamps, CMN, Paris
    Language spoken: English

    Classified as a Historic Monument in 1991, the astronomical clock of the Saint-Jean de Besançon cathedral was designed and built by the clockmaker Auguste Lucien Vérité between 1858 and 1860 at the request of Cardinal Matthieu.
    Installed in a room in the lower parts of the bell tower, the astronomical clock is the central point of a very important mechanism. It ensures the functioning of the exterior and interior time dials of the cathedral as well as of 2 Comtois bells.
    It is equipped with a precise and complex mechanism of more than 30,000 parts and 11 movements. Driven by weights, some of them are used for animations such as bells and automatons. The 57 dials provide numerous indications: calendars, movement of the planets, eclipses, time of high tide in different ports...
    When its mechanism was still in operation, the clock also operated the four external dials located on each side of the bell tower and a fifth one located inside St John's Cathedral.
    Discover Louis Auguste Vérité's technical masterpiece, which combines the search for mechanical perfection with a poetic decor.

    The monument will offer a new mediation discourse and a new visiting schedule while waiting for the restoration phase to begin, according to the schedule of the DRAC of Burgundy Franche-Comté. The clock and its particularly complex mechanism are not in working order and will require patient and meticulous technical work before they can be restored to full function.
    Visitors will be given the keys to understanding the history of this clock, its designer, its technical realisation and the challenges of restoring the mechanism.
    Thanks to the monument's agents, the mediation panels and a showcase presenting parts of the clock mechanism currently at a standstill, visitors will be able to understand the design of this emblematic 19th century work and above all the technical challenge of restarting it that the forthcoming restoration will entail.


    Opening periods

    Open during the February holidays: 10/02/2024 to 10/03/2024 from 10am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 6pm. Open from 1/04/2023 to 03/11/2024 from 10am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 6pm. Open during the Christmas holidays from 21/12/2024 to 03/01/2025 from 10am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 6pm. Closed on Mondays It will also close early (5pm) on 24 and 31 December.
    from Tuesday 04/02 to Sunday 11/03/2024-Tue-Sun : from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm / from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm
    from Saturday 12/21 to Sunday 01/05/2025-Tue-Sun : from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm / from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm

    Practical information

    Group service


    Religious heritage
    Listed or registered (CNMHS)

    Visits for individuals

    Duration of the visit 30 Min.

    Tours for groups


      MINI Max Additional information
    Gratuities0Young people aged 18-25 who are members of the EU, teachers with an Education Pass, jobseekers and recipients of minimum social benefits.
    Gratuities0Person with a disability and their carer
    Base rate - full rate adult4
    Rate for unemployed persons0
    Group rate4.5reduced rate
    School rate20school package
    Other rate4.5SNCF Inoui
    child's price0under 18s
    Special rate4SNCF Grand Voyageur season ticket

    Means of payment

    Credit card
    Cheques and postal orders
    Holiday vouchers
    Eurocard - Mastercard

    See also

    BESANCON - from 04/01/2024 to 12/31/2024

    La Cathédrale Saint-Jean

    T&H mental T&H engine T&H visual
    BESANCON - from 11/02/2023 to 12/31/2024

    Maison Victor Hugo

    T&H mental
    BESANCON - from 05/02/2024 to 12/31/2024

    Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'Archéologie

    T&H mental T&H engine
    BESANCON - from 05/02/2024 to 12/31/2024

    Musée du Temps