Astronomical Clock in Prague

Astronomical Clock in Prague

The Astronomical Clock of Prague is one of two main tourist attractions of the city (the other one is Charles Bridge). The square in front of the clock is crowded with tourists every day and especially when the clock strikes the hour when n entire performance happens.

The Astronomical Clock (Prague orloj- Pražský orloj) in Prague is the third oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one that still works. In 1410, it was installed on the southern wall of the Old City Hall in Prague, where it stands even today. It is one the most appreciated tourist attractions of the city of Prague (together with the Charles Bridge).
Every hour (from 09-21h) the two windows above the clock open and one by one wooden figures of the Apostils come out. At the same time, two figures on each side of the clock will start to move, while the whole performance will end with the movement of the golden rooster on top of the clock.
The clock consists of two main dials: the Clock dial and the Calendar dial (the lower circle).

Clock dial
The clock dial was a brilliant achievement of that time. The blue background of the clock represents the sky above the horizon, brown color stands for the sky below the horizon. Above the line of the horizon there are inscriptions in Latin: East and West, and under the line it says Dusk and Dawn.  The zodiac ring of the clock moves accordingly and shows visible star conciliations. Finally, the Dial with the Sun and the Moon also rotates showing the movement of these astrological objects. The Moon is represented as a silver ball that shows the phases of the Moon.
Visitors will notice there are three different sets of markings on the clock. Actually, the clock was able to give three different presentations of time: Old Czech time (Italian time), Central European time and Babylonian time.

Calendar dial
Calendar dial was a later addition to the Astronomical clock. This dial shoes the current month (represented by the medallion picture allegory of every month), the current day (all days are written on the outer layer of the calendar but the current one is shown on top of the clock) and the zodiac sign.

Ticket prices for the Astronomical Clock in Prague
It is possible to climb the stairs of the Old Tower Hall and enjoy the view from the top.
Regular ticket price is: 120 CZK.
Reduced ticket price (children, students and senior individuals): 70 CZK.
Family ticket (2 adults and maximum of 4 children): 250 CZK.

Working Hours of the Astronomical Clock in Prague
From Tuesday to Sunday working hours are: 09:00-22:00h.
On Monday working hours are: 11:00-22:00h.

Interesting facts

  • For centuries, the construction of the clock was incorrectly assigned to a clock-master Hanus. According to the legend, after constructing the clock Hanus refused to build another one for quite some time. After a while, when Councilors of Prague heard that Hunus would take on the project after all, they blinded him so that he could not finish it. Blinded Hanus wanted revenge, so he destroyed the Prague’s clock that was not repaired for many years.
  • There are four figures next to the clock (two on each side). These four figures represent four things that were despised in that period. Vanity is represented by a figure that looks at its reflection in the mirror. Next to Vanity, there is Greed - a figure holding a bag of money. On the other side of the clock there is Death represented by the figure of the skeleton. And finally next to Death there is Pleasure and Entertainment represented by a figure of a Turk holding an instrument.
  • Every hour, the skeleton figure would ring the bell and the four figures would shake their heads. This gesture of the figures symbolizes the unwillingness of these four vices to leave.
  • Most probably, the calendar dial was added in 1490. The wooden Apostils were added in 1787 and the golden rooster in 1866.

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