Whilst Lou and I tour France in our campervan, we chanced upon an intriguing architectural beauty. The Florentine Tower of Buire. Moments like this are what our drone was made for so check out the short video we’ve made showing the Florentine Tower and immediate surrounds, from a birds-eye perspective.
Where is the Florentine Tower of Buire Located?
The Florentine Tower is located just south of a town called Hirson in what the French call the commune of Buire, in the department of Aisne, in Northern France. The immediate surrounds include an old railway works with a cool semi-circular building kind of like a baseball stadium and of course, the railway itself which is still operational today. Before the second World War Hirson was the second most important railway junction after Paris which leads us on to….
What is, (or was), the Florentine Tower of Buire?
A gigantic railway signal box. At around 45 meters tall, the six storey behemoth presumably afforded its operators a great few of the tracks. Each floor held different bits of signalling equipment with a viewing point on the top floor. As you can see the full height of the tower reaches up way higher, due to the inclusion of four clock faces. Guess what? They point due North, South, East and West respectively. It was so easy to tell the time in Buire that local sales of wrist watches collapsed shortly after it was built in 1921 putting several jewellers out business. (#FAKEFACT)
Why is it called the Florentine Tower?
This one’s a bit loose. Apparently it’s meant to look like buildings in Florence. We’d say, ‘inspired by’ rather than ‘in the style of”. The architect was actually a French guy called Gustave Umbdenstock bu apparently the contractor who built the tower was Florentine. There’s certainly some Italian flair in the design, with those fancy tiles and and we suppose just calling it ‘The Tower of Buire’ would be a little dry.
Is the Florentine Tower working today?
As you might be able to tell from the video, the Florentine Tower is not currently operational. In fact, it hasn’t been operational since 1944. Bombed but still standing. Like so many other things in Northern France it stands as a sad reminder of just how stupid the human race can be . Its blank clock faces and hollow shell express perfectly the empty, bitter regret of pointless death. The Florentine Tower has been designated a historic monument since 1995.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this piece. If you’d like to give us feedback, ask anything specific or give us advice on where we should go or what we should do next please leave a comment below, or email: antlou at vanutopia dot com