The huge Astronomical Clock in Prague’s Old Town Square is one of the main highlights of the square and is a major tourist attraction. There is always a huge crowd gathered below the clock and the crowd is particularly big at the top of the hour when the 12 apostle figures rotate out of the small blue doors above the clock to bless the city. The figures on either side of the clock make their gestures simultaneously. The figures include a skeleton ringing a bell, a Turk shaking his head, a miser with a purse full of money and Vanity looking in a mirror. At the end of the blessing, a golden cock crows and the bell tolls at the top of the tower. Each figure on the clock and the clock itself has a significant meaning behind it that I would advise reading up on before you go. Below the Astronomical Clock are 12 medallions with the signs of the zodiac that was added in 1865.
What to expect/when to visit:
Don’t visit at the top of the hour expecting there to be some grand production, many tourists walk away thinking “That was it?” I would recommend visiting earlier in the morning when you don’t have to fight the crowds. This area is busiest around lunch time.
The clock is mounted on the 1300’s old town hall tower and was constructed in 1410 making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working. An astronomical clock has special mechanisms and dials to display astronomical information. The Astronomical Dial on this clock shows the medieval perception of the Universe where the Earth is the center. Legend has it that the Prague councilors of the city had the creator of the clock blinded, because they heard he was going to make an even greater clock for another country. Before the blinded builder died, he damaged the clock so seriously, that nobody could ever fix it again. It is also said he cursed the instrument, so those who tried to repair it have either gone mad or died! Over its long history, this clock has constantly been in and out of working condition.