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Prague astronomical clock

Old Town walking tour Astronomical Clock

The astronomical clock at Old Town square is the unique one in the world, and it is able to record the babylonian time. It has became the unique technical sight.

By Prague_Astronomical_Clock_animated.gif: BetacommandBot derivative work: W.Rebel (Prague_Astronomical_Clock_animated.gif) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When you come close to the Hall, you will notice the astronomical clock on the south side of the Hall tower. It is usually the point of main interest for the tourists from abroad. The building works were started by Mikulas from Kadan and by the end of 15th Century the clock was finished by Hanus of Ruze . Regarding to Jirasek´s legend, the astronomical clock was constructed by master Hanus. After he finished the clock, the Prague councillors made him blind, so he was not able to construct another copy of the clock. Therefore, he was supposed to take his revenge on them by stopping the clock working. But in real, the astronomical clock stopped working by itselves in 1865, and there were plans to remove them. Later, the clock was repaired by Ludvik Hainz, one of the Prague´s watchrepairer.

The astronomical clock is built of three parts. At the highest level you can find mechanical figures, which are loved by children and tourists. Movement of the figures works on the same principal as cuckoo clock. Every hour, you can see twelve biblical apostles, each of them with his attribute, moving in the two windows under a little roof. From your view, you can see in the left window as the first apostle St.Peter with a key, St. Matthew with an axe, St. John with a calix, St.Andrew with a cross shaped as X, St. Phillipe with a cross and St. Jacob with a wash board. In the right window you can see St. Paul with a book, St. Thomas with a javelin, St. Simon with a saw, St.Tadeas with files, St. Bartholomew with a piece of leather, St.Barnabas with a scroll. As these figures are moving, also another figures on both of the side starts move too – a skeleton is pulling a rope and by ringing he initiates the march of the apostles. Meanwhile he nods to a Turk, who represents an allegory of delight, but he is turning his head to sides as he does not want to listen to the skeleton. A miser represents an allegory of meanness, shaking his stick to the sceleton, holding a sack in his hand. Next to him a coxcomb reflects a sin of vanity while watching himselves in a mirror. A cock crows after the both of the windows are closed, what ussually makes all of the tourists laught. By making the noise he wakes another hour of life and the clock starts chimes.

The astronomical clock itselves is split to a zodiacal calendar and clock. The surface representing allegories was drawn by Josef Manes in 1865. The original paint is saved at the Prague´s Museum, so you can see only a copy on the wall of the Hall. Close to the calendar is placed a statuette called Philosopher with a quill, representing an allegory of philosophy, Astronomer with a binoculus representing an allegory of astronomy, Chronical with a book for an allegory of rethoric, Archangel Michael with a fiery blade. The clock shows different times and also some astronomical figures. As the machinery still contains many of the original parts, became the astronomical clock a unique technical sight.

Untill the end of war the clock were initiated to work by a transmission crank , thereafter there was supplied an elektromotor, which works on the same principle as Big Ben does in London.

Astronomical clock shows four different times. The central European time, which means the Germanic time, where the time is shown by sun clock hand. The time is read with roman numerals on the circuit sphere. Present time is chimed by the clock only since the year 1948! Before that, they represented old Czech time, where each oncoming day started by sun set. This time is characterized by golden gothic numbers placed on a ring of inner sphere which works separately. Babylonian, unequal time means, that in summer, the hours are longer than in winter as last only from sun rise untill sun set. The astronomical clock at Old Town square is only the one in the world, which is able to record the babylonian time too.

Astronomical time is read in Roman numerals. There is placed a calendar clock face at the bottom, which is showing current day and his placement in the week, month and year.

The astronomical clock was under reconstruction between september until november in 2005.