Prague Astronomical Clock

Prague, Czech Republic

The Prague astronomical clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating. It is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism itself is composed of three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; 'The Walk of the Apostles', a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. According to local legend, the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and its good operation is placed in jeopardy and a ghost, mounted on the clock, was supposed to nod his head in confirmation. Based on the legend, the only hope was represented by a boy born in the New Year's night.

The oldest part of the Orloj, the mechanical clock and astronomical dial, dates back to 1410 when it was made by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel, the latter a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Charles University. Later, presumably around 1490, the calendar dial was added and clock facade was decorated with gothic sculptures.

The clock stopped working many times in the centuries after 1552, and was repaired many times. In 1629 or 1659 wooden statues were added, and figures of the Apostles were added after major repair in 1787–1791. During the next major repair in years 1865–1866 the golden figure of a crowing rooster was added.

The clock suffered heavy damage on May 7 and especially May 8, 1945, during the Prague Uprising, when Germans set fire from several armoured vehicles and an anti-aircraft gun to the south-west side of the Old Town Square in an effort to silence the provocative broadcasting initiated by the National Committee on May 5.[citation needed] The hall and nearby buildings burned along with the wooden sculptures on the clock and the calendar dial face made by Josef Mánes. After significant effort, the machinery was repaired, the wooden Apostles restored by Vojtěch Sucharda, and the clock started working again in 1948.

The clock was last renovated in autumn 2005, when the statues and the lower calendar ring were restored.

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Founded: 1410
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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Andri X (13 months ago)
I stood in awe, just couldn't take my eyes off this amazing clock! How they made this is beyond me! I was told by a guide the mechanism had broken down and they found it very difficult in these modern times to find a qualified clock maker who was capable of understanding the mechanism to fix it! It's just WOW & A MUST SEE!
Panicos Spyrou (13 months ago)
Magnificent....awe inspiring masterpiece..considering how long ago this was built....4 different times from different ages including babilonian. ...The maker was a genius. ..A feather in the cap for the old town of Prague. ...Is it any wonder that so many millions of people visit this place each year. ...
Natalia Danilovich (14 months ago)
The Old Town Hall’s Tower is a must visit place in Prague, it’s one of the oldest town halls in the world. The entrance fee to the tower is 250 Kc, and the views are totally worth the visit. The tower is around 70m tall, it was built in the 14th century. The Old Town’s astronomical clock is now the oldest functioning astronomical clock in the world. There are elevators to get to the ticket’s office and to the top of the tower. The views from above are really breathtaking.
Haroon Chaudhry (14 months ago)
As a tourist the location is one where you can not just see the Clock Tower, but can also experience the rest of the town centre. It can be really busy but this is one of the oldest clock towers in the world, and it is worth visiting to capture a piece of history. Beautifully designed, it's a marvel of engineering and art. If you are a local it is less of a deal, but if you are visiting I must recommend you visit and experience this for yourself!
Ryann (14 months ago)
The coolest and third oldest astronomical clock in the world that’s still working!! Located at the southern side of the Old Town Hall Tower, make sure you’re there when the clock strikes the hour! I thought the show was going to be a little bit bigger than it was, but it was really cool to see the Twelve Apostles set in motion. My favorite guy is the skeleton :)
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Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

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Gardens

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