Saturday, April 18, 2015

Astronomical Clock, Prague

The Astronomical Clock, built in to one side of the Old Town Hall Tower, dating from the 15th century, is one of the key attractions in Prague. On the hour, every hour, this clock attracts a great crowd, whereby a small trap door opens and Christ marches out ahead of his 12 Disciples, while the skeleton of death tolls the bell to a defiant statue of a Turk. Also a miser with a purse full of money and Vanity looking in a mirror are also evident. The whole performance ends with the crowning of a golden rooster and the ringing of the huge bell at the top of the tower. According to legend, it is said that at the first cock-crow in the morning the ghosts and devils flee from Prague. Below the Astronomical Clock are twelve medallions with the signs of the zodiac, added by Josef Manes in 1865.



Legends about the origins of the Prague Astronomical Clock are many. However, the most famous one is that it was built by Master Hanus in 1410. The city councillors at that time were so delighted with the clock that they later began to fear that Master Hanus would build one like it for another European city. Therefore, one dark night they had him blinded, and thus the wondrous clock exists only in the Czech capital.



From the clock dial one can tell what day it is and its position in the week, month and year. The Astronomical Clock also tracks Central European, Babylonians and Sidereal time, making it the last one in the world to do so. It is also possible to identify the position of celestial bodies on it. On the calendar with replicas of paintings by Josef Manes you can see which sign of the zodiac currently reigns. 

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