Visit and climb the Prague Astronomical Clock

Discover the secrets of one of Prague’s finest architectural works: its astronomical clock!

Do you know the Prague Astronomical Clock? Today, it’s one of the most admired historical and technical monuments not only in the Czech Republic, but throughout the world. Developed in the early 15th century, this unique clock has always fascinated and intrigued those who have tried to understand its secrets.

Today, it’s one of the pride and joys of Prague’s Old Town Square: thousands of tourists and curious onlookers flock to its feet to admire the incredible spectacle of its automatons and the complex mechanism that keeps time ticking away. Thanks to this extraordinary astronomical clock, the city of Prague has joined the closed circle of medieval cities such as Padua, Strasbourg and Bern.

Horloge astronomique de Prague

Photo credit: Flickr – Serge

A little history

In 1410, Nicolas de Kadau was entrusted with the construction of Prague’s astronomical clock, a work that would be reworked several times over the years.

In fact, as early as 1490, another great watchmaker by the name of Hanus transformed it to such an extent that for a long time it was believed that he was its creator.

A fantastic astronomical clock

The Prague Astronomical Clock is more than just an ordinary clock; it’s a little jewel of miniatures and an incredible tangle of mechanisms.

Horloge astronomique de Prague

Vanity and greed – Photo credit: Wikimedia – Sebaso

Horloge astronomique de Prague

Death and the Turk – Photo credit: Wikimedia – Sebaso

It consists of 3 essential elements:

An astronomical dial showing the position of the Sun and Moon, and of course the time: this is the astrolabe that forms the basis of the Prague Astronomical Clock, the astronomical tool with which astrologers and navigators could determine the position of the stars and stars, and is still an object of curiosity.

A dial with medallions representing all the months of the year: this large disc at the bottom of the clock is also the most recent, created in 1886 by J. Manes.

A mechanism that triggers the parade of the 12 apostles every hour: every day and every hour, between 9am and 9pm, the mechanism comes to life and the parade can begin in front of the small windows, each apostle proudly posing with his or her attributes.

Above the apostles, a rooster crows to close the parade. Around the apostles, four animated figures are also depicted: the Vain Man holding his mirror, the Miser with his cane and purse, Death or the Skeleton with his hourglass and the Turk with a lute, representing whims and pleasures.

Horloge astronomique de Prague

Photo credit: Flickr – Moyan Brenn

A strange legend

The Prague Astronomical Clock shows several times, including Astronomical Time, Central European Time, Old Czech Time and Babylonian Time.

This clock is shrouded in legend: when Hanus completed his work on this unusual clock, the town councillors allegedly gouged out his eyes to prevent him from recreating or improving his masterpiece in another town.

In revenge, Hanus deliberately destroyed part of the mechanism and the counter went haywire.

According to legend, all those who tried to repair the clock either went mad or simply died in mysterious ways.

Horloge astronomique de Prague

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Steve Collis

Main photo credit: Flickr – Moyan Brenn