The world’s oldest operating clock is an engineering marvel. Also, know as Prague Orloj, it is one of the most visited sites in Prague. The Prague Astronomical Wall clock built well over 600 years ago, has been one of the most favourite spots for tourists visiting Prague. The Astronomical Clock is fixed on the southern side of the Old Town Hall Tower. The crowd gathers to watch the 12 Apostles set in motion when the clock strikes the hour from 0900 hours to 1100 hours. The parade, though visible from the Old Town Square, we recommend you to buy a ticket to the Old Town Hall, to have a better view.
The most infamous fable revolves around a talented clock master, known as Hanuš, who was selected to build the iconic structure. However, the councillors were worried he will replicate his craftsmanship in other cities. The councillors plotted against the clockmaker, broke into his house and blinded him by filling his eyes with chunks of iron. Hanuš, with the help of his apprentice, took revenge on them by making the clock he built halt. It is said that only after 100 years they could figure out a way to make the clock function again.
Another story says that the clock was built by the Imperial clock-producer Mikuláš of Kadaň, with help from his friend – astronomer and university teacher Jan Sindel.
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What is this about?
The Astronomical Clock consists of three notable parts – A calendar, an astronomical desk and the mechanism of the twelve Apostles. The clock also has other figures like the skeleton rings, the vain man and the miser. The southern part of the tower also consists of a unique stone chamber to house the clock’s mechanical parts.
The Orloj, like any other clock, this displays the time and the date. This mediaeval tower clock was also built with a special mechanism to display astronomical information like the relative positions of the Sun, Moon, Zodiac constellations and, sometimes, other planets.
The intricate design can be appreciated by understanding the broad parts of the clock tower. The most distinguishing feature of the clock is the exquisitely ornated astronomical dial. The mechanical astrolabe was regularly used in medieval timekeeping and astronomical studies.
How to reach the Astronomical Clock
By Bus – The bus journey from different locations can take somewhere between 30-60 minutes to reach the location. Bus numbers 176, 194, 207 are the ones you need to catch.
By Car – The Prague International Airport is around 15 km, away from the Astronomical clock
By Metro – The nearest metro stations are Staromestska (line A), Namesti Republiky (line B), and Mustek (lines A & B). The metro can take around 30 minutes from central Prague to reach the Astronomical clock.
The Entrance fee ranges from 150 CZK (INR 470) to 500 CZK (INR 1569), depending on the number of people visiting the site.
The site is open from 0900 hrs to 1100 hrs every day.
Suggestions from our travel experts
- Reach the old Town square early and get in front in order to see the performance.
- Grab a table at one of the cafes adjacent and watch the twelve Apostles with a coffee!
- Save some money by pre-purchasing your ticket online.
- You can also choose a day with fewer tourists like when it’s pouring rain, you’ll be able to enjoy the “show” all by yourself!
So all you folks interested to see the marvel of the clock -all the aspiring engineers, the physicists and the astronomers – let’s start packing. Reach out to hear from our destination experts at Pickyourtrail on more such places in Prague or for any European vacation for that matter. Have any more questions? Feel free to drop them in the comments section below.