Prague’s Astronomical Clock – The World’s oldest clock still working over 600 years later.

Prague’s Astronomical clock is truly astonishing. The mechanical clock and astronomical dial dates back to 1410 when the first recorded mention of the clock was October 9, 1410. Located in the southern wall of Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square is one of Prague’s most popular tourist attractions. The clock has amazed people for over 600 years with its moving statues and procession of Apostles. In the middle ages, it was believed to be one of the wonders of the world due to its captivating mechanical performance. To this day, hundreds of tourists congregate every hour in front of the Old Town Hall, with cameras in hand, to watch the procession and see this magnificent instrument of time, like no other in the world.

 

“The Walk of the Apostles” a clockwork processions of wooden figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures by passing an open window. The death figure, represented by a skeleton holds an hourglass and beckons to the Turkish man sculpture, who in response shakes his head. Greed is portrayed by a man with a moneybag, shaking a stick. Vanity is depicted by a man with a mirror. The other statues that move by the window are a Chronicler, an Astronomer, a Philosopher, and an Angle.

 

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The medieval perception of the Universe is presented in the Astronomical Dial with the earth in the center. The sun and moon are also characterized by two clock hands. The dial contains Latin words ORTVS (east) and OCCASVS (west) and is written above the horizon. AVRORA (dawn) and CPEPVSCVLVM (twilight) are written below it. Another amazing piece of the dial is the Zodiac ring. It represents the stars and moves to correspond to them. The dial contains three circles that show different times – Old Czech, Central European, and Babylonian time. In Babylonian time the length of the hour differs according to the season. The Prague Astronomical Clock is the only one in the world able to measure it.

 

The Calendar Dial is the newest part of the clock, add around 1490. There are 12 zodiac medallions depicting every month of the year. The outer circle describes each day of the year and the current date is presented at the top of the dial.

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