Astronomical Clock

Posted in Nearby Places

Astronomical Clock Prague

10 minutes walk

According to the latest research, the astronomical clock was built in 1410 by the royal clockmaker Mikulas of Kadan in collaboration with Master Jan Ondrejuv, called Sindel, professor of mathematics and astronomy in Prague‘s Charles University. The astrolabe mechanisms they constructed over 600 years ago are still working.

80 years after initial construction, the legendary master Hanush rebuilt the clock and, as the legend goes, the Councillors had him blinded so that he would not be able to build another instrument greater than the Prague Astronomical Clock.

The story also goes that before he died, master Hanush deliberately damaged the clock so seriously, that nobody could ever fix it again. He also cursed the instrument, so those whoever tried to repair it  either went mad or died.

The figures of the 12 apostles, blessing the city at every hour were added in more recent times, during the major repair works carried out in the years 1865-1866.

The Old Town Hall with its Astronomical Clock suffered a lot at the end of the Second World War. On the last day of the war, the historical center of  Prague was the main target of Nazi bombardment. The whole complex of the Old Town Hall completely burnt down. Fortunately, everything was able to be reconstructed and the figures of the apostles were replaced by the works of the woodcarver Vojtech Sucharda soon after.

As well as the figures of the 12 apostles, there are also eight immobile figures on the sides of the astronomical dial and the calendar dial. Four figures on the sides of the astronomical dial are supposed to be the symbols of the Prague medieval society. On the left side you can see the allegory of the Vanity admiring itself in a mirror and the Miserly Jew holding his bag of gold. On the right side there is the skeleton as the symbol of Death ringing his bell and the the figure of Turk (or The Piper) shaking its head in disapproval.

Below the astronomical dial you can see the Calendar dial, painted by Josef Manes in 1805. Actually, the one you see is a replica, the original has been safely kept on the sides of the stairway of the Prague Museum of History.

Getting back to our figures, on the sides of the Calendar you will see, from left to right, a chronicler, an angel, an astronomer and a philosopher.

The Clock Tower is decorated with exquisite coats of arms and different royal symbols. There is also a rooster that crows after the Apostles have finished their blessing.

The Sphere or the astronomical dial shows most important astronomical events: movement of the sun. Notice that the sun circles around the Earth and not the other way around. The position of the Luna cycle, the seasons, the days and the zodiac are also depicted.