All you wanted to ask, but did not.
Astronomical Clock, the most famous sight in Prague that every day thousands of tourists and locals visit. Even they all took photos and videos, not all of them really realize how unique this mechanism is. Here are some of the most common questions about the clock, that I hope will help you to understand and appreciate it much more.
Q: How old is the Astronomical Clock
A: More than 600 years old
Even we do not know the exact date when the clock was added to the tower of the Old Town Hall, the earliest written evidence is dated back to the 1410.
Q: Who designed the Astronomical Clock?
A: Clock was made by the clock master Mikuláš of Kadně and the astronomer Jan Šindel.
However, many guides are talking about different clock master, Jan Růže, called Hanuš. There is the most famous Prague legend that tells you that Hanuš designed the Astronomical Clock. He was rewarded by cutting his eyes off, so he would not work on different clock somewhere else.
Q: How many dials?
There are two dials, upper is astronomical and lower is calendar. Both of them show you the skills of the clock maker and astronomer that designed it.
Q: How many different times Astronomical clock shows?
- Babylonian time is the oldest time that you can read on the Clock. Each hour is govern by its own planet and the day between sunrise and sunset is divided into twelve equal hours. To read what time is it, just look for golden sun and Arabic numeral in the blue field of the Clock.
- Old Bohemian time was used in Middle Ages. Day has 24 hours and it starts from the sunset (not from midnight as today). Look for golden hand and outside black circle with golden Gothic numerals.
- German time, that is used today. This is the one to look for if you want to know what time is it. Just be careful, there are not minutes, only hours. Look for golden hand and Roman numerals.
- Sidereal time or the time of stars. It has 24 hours and is 4 minutes shorter than a solar day. Look for little golden star and Roman numerals.
Q: Is there sun or moon?
A: Yes, both of them.
Moon is travelling on the ecliptic line of the Clock, counter clockwise. Look for black or silver ball – depending on the Lunar phase (yes, you can even read the different phases of the Moon.)
Sun is displays as golden sun, travelling through the Clock – from red colour part on the left of the dial, to blue colour and red on the left, finishing in the black area. That is because Clok shows you sunrise, day, sunset and also night.
Q: What about Zodiac?
A: Yes there is also zodiac dial.
It is the smaller dial within the bigger Astronomical dial. You can read all 12 zodiacal signs that are connected with the position of the sun.
Q: What is the Calendar dial for?
A: Simply, it is the calendar designed in the 19th century by one of the Czech artists, Josef Mánes.
It shows you:
- Day of the month
- Feast day
- Allegorical picture of the month
- Allegorical picture of the zodiac
Q: What is the Astronomical Clock show?
A: It happens on every hours, from morning till evening, and there are several parts of the Clock that moves.
- Figures on the sides of the Astronomical dial – Vanity, Avarice, Death and Turk. The slightly move either with their hands or heads. Death is ringing with the little bell.
- The Apostles in the blue windows:
Left window:Jude – with a book
- Andrew – with a cross
- James – with a fuller’s hammer
- Thomas – with a spear
- John – with a golden cup
- Barnabas – with papyrus
- Peter – with a key
- Matthew – with an axe
- Philip – with a cross
- Paul – with a sword and a book
- Simon – with a saw
- Bartholomew – with the gospel and a sword
Rooster, that you can find above the blue windows, whose crowing signals the end of the show.
Q: What is the best time to see the Clock?
Summer or winter, you will find always many people around the Clock. Be smart and arrive early.