"The Astronomical Clock (5 photos)" Astronomical Clock Tip by nicolaitan

Astronomical Clock, Prague: 163 reviews and 260 photos

The astronomical clock (orloj) located on the eastern wall of the Old Town Hall is one of the most important attractions in the Old Town Square. Hourly till 9 PM, large crowds and tour groups gather to see the intricate mechanical peformance marking the changing hours.

The oldest part of the clock, the astronomical dial and its mechanics, was built in 1410 and the original parts are amazingly still in operation today. The calendar dial was added in 1490. The most famous figures - Death and the Three Mortal Sins with their mechanics - were added in the 17th Century. The 12 apostles and their windows were created in 1865. The clock has been repaired many times, most recently following artillery shelling by the retreating Nazi forces in 1945. For a detailed description of the history, craftsmen and artisans, and mechanical workings of the astronomical clock, visit www. orloj.com and www. utf.msf.cuni.cz/Relativity/orloj.

The clock is divided into 3 parts. The two windows at the top are for the apostles. Below are the clock dial and the calendar dial. On the hour, the devil pulls the cord, and a parade of 6 apostles pass by each window. Each is the patron saint of a trade and carries an appropriate artifact. For instance, St. Simon is the patron saint of lumberjacks and carries a saw. The central astronomic dial contains elements for the sun, moon, and zodiac signs. The clock dial details time with changing hours of sunrise and sunset.

The permanent figures surrounding Death depict the Turk with a mandolin, the Jew clutching a money bag, and Vanity holding a mirror - the three mortal sins of sloth, greed, and vanity. At the end, the rooster crows and bells sound the new hour.

Advice - since the apostle's windows face east, the best time to see them is on the hour in the morning.

The whole clock scene is undoubtedly a bit hokey, but the lore of the clock makes it a remarkable attraction not to be missed.

Directions: Old-Town Square

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Sep 30, 2006
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