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. 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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User Reviews

Bud Snapdragon (54 days ago)
The Orloj is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism has three main components — the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; statues of various Catholic saints stand on either side of the clock; "The Walk of the Apostles", an hourly show of moving Apostle figures and other sculptures, notably a figure of a skeleton that represents Death, 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; a ghost, mounted on the clock, was supposed to nod its head in confirmation. According to the legend, the only hope was represented by a boy born on New Year's night.
Rhuturaj Magare (2 months ago)
Nice ancient architecture. One of the oldest working clock in the world. It shows everything sun sign, position of sun, time, month and date in one go, you can read if you are smart enough. People gather here around an hour time to view dolls moving, skeleton that rings bell. Ine of the crowded place in Old Town Prague
Sami Sami (3 months ago)
Prague Astronomical Clock is just amazing! You will be astonished the moment you see it. It is well built Clock, decorated and painted located at the heart of City of Prague. Prague city is simply so majestic, beautiful and Romantic
Roberto Gamero (3 months ago)
Amazing historical clock! Every hour there is kind of an small show worth seeing and it is located at the very center of the city. It is always full of people so it is hard to take a good picture with no people on it but every picture you take of it is gonna be worth it.
Jan Knöbel (4 months ago)
The first time that I can say something "positive" about corona... it was my first time at Prague, that i was almost alone infront of the astronomical clock. Normally you share this place with hundreds or even more people, and fight for just a chance of an good image. But this time you could watch it as long and as easy as you want. And without the crowd infront of it, you get a much better impression, why it is one of the most well known sights of the city. It´s just astounding to watch.
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