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Prague's astronomical clock

Prague’s astronomical clock by clockmaker Mikuláš is not only beautiful to look at, it is also one of the oldest and most detailed clocks ever manufactured. This clock on the façade of the Town Hall is one of Prague's top attractions. In addition to telling time, it also indicates the phase of the moon and the stars.

The masterpiece was installed in 1410 and reconstructed in 1490 by another clockmaker, Master Hanuš. For centuries it was believed that he was the creator of the clock until a document was found in 1961 that revealed the true story. The clock consists of 3 main components: an astronomical dial that indicates the time and the position of the sun and the moon, a dial with medallions that represents the months, and a mechanism that shows viewers the hourly procession of the Twelve Apostles.

The astronomical clock

Czech Republic

Prague

Death stands on the right side of the clock

Moving figurines

Every day on the hour, between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm, the entire mechanism comes alive. In addition to the mechanical round of the apostles, there are other moving figurines on the outside of the clock. These represent some of the things most feared by the residents of Prague in those days: greed, vanity and death. Since the 16th century, the mechanism that measures time has been repaired and restored several times, the last restoration having been in 1865. That was also the year when the apostles were added to the clock.

“Legend says that Hanuš was blinded so he couldn’t duplicate his clock anywhere else”

Babylonian time

Prague’s astronomical clock indicates various times: astronomical time, Central European, old-Czech and Babylonian time. This Prague timepiece is the only clock in the world that can tell Babylonian time. Of course there is a legend about this special historic artwork. When Master Hanuš finished his work on the clock, he was allegedly blinded by the city councillors to prevent him from recreating his masterpiece in another city and perhaps even improving it. In revenge, Master Hanuš is said to have damaged the clock shortly before he died and cursed the timepiece. According to the legend, the men who tried to repair the clock have all gone insane or died – but as with most legends, of course, no one knows if this really happened.

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