The Clock Tower in Orsomarso

Orsomarso’s Clock Tower: a timeless icon in Calabria, Italy

Orsomarso’s Clock Tower, a prominent symbol of the town, is nestled in the Mediterranean maquis, situated in the Argentino River Valley. This iconic structure dominates the village from the top of the tufa rock on which it was built, offering visitors many magical sights.

Orsomarso’s Clock Tower historical background

The Clock Tower’s history is intertwined with the town’s past. At the time of the Mercuriense Eparchy, a monastery surmounted the fortress where today the Orsomarso Clock Tower stands. At the time of the Mercuriense Eparchy, a monastery surmounted the fortress where today the Orsomarso Clock Tower stands. Its origins are lost in the mists of time.

An aerial vew of the Clock Tower in Orsomarso
Orsomarso’s Clock Tower seen from above (photo by Fabio Perugino)

The Clock Tower was built in the oldest part of the town, originally for defense purposes. The fortress served not just as a defense but as a lookout point at the confluence of the Argentino and Porta la Terra rivers. Following the Byzantine reconquest of northern Calabria in 885 AD, this Lombard fortress became home to a community of Italo-Greek monks. This group established a monastery named the Castle or Castellano, as referred to in some hagiographic texts. The first residential nucleus of Orsomarso developed around this monastery in the 11th century.

Over time, it has evolved into a symbol of Orsomarso, standing tall and proud, marking the passage of time for the town’s inhabitants.

Orsomarso’s Clock Tower visitor experience

Orsomarso's Clock Tower, in Calabria. At his feet, a portion of the town buildings, with the Baronal Palace and the S. John the Baptist bell tower partially visible. (photo by Christoph Heylen)
A view of the Clock Tower in the town of Orsomarso, Calabria (photo by Christoph Heylen)

The Clock Tower, along with the Madonna statue carved by Plinio Frigo, a sculptor from Vicenza, has become one of the symbols of the town. Visitors to Orsomarso have the opportunity to climb the Clock Tower and view the entire town from its peak. As one ascends the steep and narrow stairs leading to the rock’s summit, a robust stone and mortar wall is visible, set against the cliff. This wall was once the interior of a monastery hall. Today, fully exposed to the elements, its ancient frescoes fade a little more each day. Further up the ascent, observers can spot several single-lancet windows. On one hand, these windows suggest loopholes for military defense. On the other hand, their similarity to the single-lancet windows of the churches of San Leonardo, Santa Maria di Mercuri, and the parish of San Giovanni Battista point to a Byzantine architectural model, common in the region’s sacred buildings. Of all the places in Mercurion, this location best retains its defensive appearance while hinting at a calling for contemplation.

This experience provides a unique perspective of the town, its surrounding landscapes, and the Mediterranean Sea.

Orsomarso’s Clock Tower is more than just a timekeeping structure; it is a symbol of the town’s history, culture, and resilience. Whether you’re a history buff, a culture enthusiast, or a traveler seeking unique experiences, a visit to Orsomarso’s Clock Tower is a journey through time that you won’t want to miss. This experience will inspire you and encourage you to come again in this magical place. Don’t miss the chance to “live” Orsomarso and discover its beauty.