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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Founded: 1410
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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

O. C. (5 months ago)
The clock is stunning, you should absolutely not miss visiting it when in Prague. I also loved the atmosphere created by it, even if some might complain that is crowded because a lot of people will gather to see "The Walk of the Apostles" I think it just adds to it's charm and makes it a really special event to be there and admire its beauty and sanctity. It's the oldest astronomical clock still in function and you can enjoy viewing it while savouring a local beer in the pubs and restaurants located near by.
Moniruzzaman Tuhin (6 months ago)
This review is only for the workers here, as I couldn't go up to the tower. People so, so rude. There was a system error so you could only buy with cash. They clearly told me there was no problem at all with cash. So I go to withdraw cash to the bank (not a single one close) and when I came back, another worker told me that that was false, I can't buy with cash now. What happened between those exact 20 minutes? Who knows. Maybe they didn't feel like working at all and wanted to go home early (this was 17:30 by the way). Not a single sorry for lying to your face. Nothing. Just a "fork you", we don't care. Update: up to 3 stars, because the views deserve better rating, the rest still applies. It's perfect at sunset, so you can view the area by day and night if you wait. The rooftops at sunset are great to look at. But you get pretty much the same (plus the bridge itself) views facing the Castle from Charles Bridge and surroundings. You don't gain anything extra from the height though.
Pauline Crisostomo (6 months ago)
I highly recommend getting to the tower before 10am as the tickets are cheaper at this time. But it is well worth it anyway! You get a full 360° view of Prague and it is breathtaking. I went on a Wednesday morning and it was quiet and peaceful. At one point, I had the tower all to myself. I stayed for a while, letting the magical atmosphere sink in. An essential part of your trip to Prague.
Matilde Miller (16 months ago)
The guide was an amazing storyteller! Thank you for a cool experience. I am amazed at how tasteful the interiors were decorated. I think they won a design award for the tower, with the iron stairs and the elevator. Everything was geared towards classy experience design But the main thing was the amazing guide. Great storytelling skills and loads of patience towards everyone's questions.
Bud Snapdragon (23 months 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.
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