The Mecca Clock Tower | DocFilm | DW | 29.06.2015
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The Mecca Clock Tower

For four years, German engineers have been working on a gigantic construction project in Saudi Arabia: installing the workings six hundred meters up in the largest clock tower in the world. How did they manage it?

25.06.2015 Doku Turmuhr 3

The Makkah Clock towers over the heart of the famous Grand Mosque in Mecca and ensures that pilgrims observe important prayer times.

By the time Stuttgart architects S.L. Rasch were called in, construction work in Mecca was already in full swing. The tower was originally supposed to be 450 meters high but had grown to over 600 meters. However, the weight of the spire could not exceed the maximum load of the foundations, so the engineers were facing a difficult task: how to build a tower clock this big and make it as light as possible? And in spite of all that, the biggest challenge was probably a logistical one: Only Muslims were allowed to enter Mecca and time was running out.

25.06.2015 Doku Turmuhr 1

The Makkah Clock’s numbers may be seven meters long but the hour hand (17 meters) and the minute hand (23 meters) dwarf them.

The team had only four years to finish the megaproject. The dial has a diameter of 43 meters, the minute hand is 23 feet long and each of the four drives weighs 21 tons. This record-breaking clock is almost 35 times larger than London’s Big Ben. Its façade is adorned 98 million glass mosaic tiles with 24 karat gold leaf. At night, two million LEDs illuminate the dials, which are still legible at a distance of eight kilometers. Our documentary tells the amazing story of an engineering masterpiece and offers a rare glimpse into Islam’s holiest places.

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