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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Details

Founded: 1410
Category: Miscellaneous historic sites in Czech Republic

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Vee (16 days ago)
It's a clock. I don't get the hype. I guess if you know all the intricacies of what you're looking at, it might be interesting, but otherwise... it's literally just a clock you stand in a very crowded plaza to look at for 20 seconds on the hour. Everyone has their phones up, and nothing much happens. Do not make a special trip just to see it chime on the hour. We just happened to be in the area 3 minutes before the hour and stopped to watch. I am so glad we didn't wait in anticipation for it. There are so many more interesting and important things to see in Prague. I wish I understood why this is so popular.
Neha Patel (34 days ago)
Nice architecture and apparently the inside tour of the mechanisms is interesting. You'd be in the the area anyway because it's a big old town square. You can grab a trdelnik while you wait, just plain is all you need, not ice cream on top. The hourly show that is a little robotic parade of period inhabitants brings a big crowd hourly until 8 pm but it is not as exciting as I thought. The show lasts about 2-3 minutes.
Sarah Barnes (43 days ago)
An amazing clock dating to the early 1400s. I suggest taking the Old Town Hall and underground tour. Make sure you go to the top of the clock tower for amazing city views. *We booked our tickets in advance through a third party vendor which was helpful.
Livia Toso (46 days ago)
Amazing piece of engineering and history in the centre of the Old Town. We were in Prague for 3 days and stopped to watch the clock every chance we had. It's very interesting to discover how all the different mechanics work. I'd recommend standing in front of it at least 15min before it goes off as the street gets very crowded. Also recommend going into the city tower and buying tickets for the old town hall building. You get to see the mechanisms from inside and go to the top of the tower, which has very nice views of the city.
chase lobbestael (2 months ago)
The Prague Astronomical Clock is undeniably an amazing marvel of engineering and artistry. Its intricate design, historical significance, and the mesmerizing astronomical displays make it a must-see attraction in Prague. Upon arriving at the Old Town Square to see the clock, however, I was met with incredibly dense crowds. The popularity of this iconic landmark often leads to large gatherings of tourists and locals alike, making it quite challenging to get a close view of the clock without navigating through the throngs of people. Despite the crowd, once I managed to find a good vantage point, the experience was truly captivating. The clock's intricate mechanisms, including the moving figures and the astronomical dial, are a testament to centuries-old craftsmanship and ingenuity. Watching the hourly show, where the figures come to life and the clock displays its astronomical features, was a memorable and enchanting moment. While the crowds can be overwhelming, especially during peak tourist seasons, the Prague Astronomical Clock remains a must-visit attraction for its historical significance and captivating displays that transport visitors back in time to the medieval era.
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