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600 years of the Prague Astronomical Clock

photo:  (czechtourism.cz)

The Prague Astronomical Clock (or Orloj), is one of the best-known and most frequently visited Czech monuments and will be celebrating the unbelievable 600th anniversary of its creation this year.


Crowds of people gather every hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. beneath the tower of the Old Town Square City Hall (map) on which the Astronomical Clock is located. Everyone waits impatiently to see the procession of the twelve apostles, to see the Turk, the Fop, the Miser and the Skeleton come alive, accompanied by bells ringing and the crowing of a cockerel. Not seeing the Astronomical clock during a visit to Prague is like neglecting to visit the Eiffel Tower during a visit to Paris.

The Prague Astronomical Clock is not only a supreme piece of Czech Gothic scientific and technological work, but also a beautiful artistic monument. As well as four types of time it also shows the movement of the heavenly bodies and, since the 19th century, the days of the calendar along with the zodiac signs including an allegory of the months and 365 saint’s feast days.

The clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadan made the clock mechanism for the Prague Astronomical Clock in 1410, most probably according to a design by Jan Šindela, a professor of mathematics and astronomy. Throughout the centuries the Astronomical Clock was perfected and repaired several times. During the last days of the Second World War it was damaged quite severely during the fire of the Old Town Square City Hall. It was only restarted after three years of very complicated restoration work. The most recent significant repairs took place in 2005, when the astronomical clock was completely disassembled after an interval of sixty years. The technical components were renovated and the statues and the lower circle by Joseph Mánes, an important Czech artist and illustrator and a representative of romanticism, who painted the aforementioned calendar panel depicting the signs of the zodiac for the astronomical clock, were also restored.


Author: Petra Hubálková
Added: 15.07.2010

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