1. Torre Oscura And Astronomical Clock

Trapani: Torre Oscura and the Astronomical Clock

The oldest gate of the city, where the astronomical clock built in 1596, one of the oldest in Europe, is located.

One of the most important towers of the city, where it is still possible to admire (perfectly functional) one of the clocks astronomical oldest in Europe.

Already in the era Carthaginian, the city of Trapani was characterized by the presence of four watchtowers and as many access gates: Torre Vecchia, Torre del Castello di Terra, Torre Pali, Torre di Porta Oscura or dell'Orologio. During the Punic wars, the Carthaginian general Amilcare Barca built the fifth tower, the Castello della Colombaia, today called Castello di Mare. The four towers enclosed the city in a quadrilateral defended by walls.

Porta Oscura is the oldest gate of the city, the only one left of the four access points to the quadrangular-shaped urban core that characterized Trapani in ancient times. It opens onto Via Torrearsa, built in the century. XIII at the behest of Giacomo d'Aragona. The ancient districts, Casalicchio and di Mezzo, are located behind it.

Torre Oscura And Astronomical Clock

Torre Oscura Astronomical Clock

The astronomical clock was designed and built by the Trapani master Giuseppe Mennella on the orders of the Jurors in 1596. The marble used was extracted from the Rizzuto quarry (Valderice). It is formed by the “Sun” Quadrant and the Lunario. The large hole in the center of the Lunario represents the Planet Earth. The two dials are circular with hand-made lead inserts with a blue stone border depicting the sky.


The lancet with the lily-tipped hand marks the 24 hours, while the Sun hand marks the apparent motion of the Sun around the houses of the Zodiac. Furthermore it fixes the Equinoxes and Solstices and therefore the alternation of the Seasons. The Cardinal Signs are those that stand at the beginning of each season:

  • Aries stares at the Spring Equinox
  • Libra stares at the Autumn Equinox
  • Cancer marks the passage of the summer solstice
  • Capricorn marks the winter solstice


The disk of the Moon it signals, in an anti-clockwise direction, all the phases from new days to decreasing, moreover the second hand marks the 29 days 2 hours and 44 minutes and 3 lunar seconds. There are four fundamental positions, represented in the figure to the side and in the list below by the odd numbers, and four intermediate phases:

  1. New moon (or conjunction or new moon phase)
  2. Crescent moon
  3. First quarter
  4. Growing gibbous
  5. Full moon (or opposition or full moon phase)
  6. Waning gibbous
  7. Last quarter
  8. falling moon

Rent your car in San Vito lo Capo and leave for Trapani. The oldest gate in the city center awaits you.

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