THE LEGEND OF THE ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK IN PRAGUE

The legend of the Astronomical Clock in Prague, which you can find in the Old Square, seems to come straight from the tales of the Brothers Grimm. Its dark history is rooted in the 15th century, when the clock was created by the great watchmakers of those times, named  Mikulas of Kadan (who used to be known by the name of Master Hanus). He had such a highly respected reputation that Mikulas was contacted by a lot of representatives in many different countries, in their endeavor to persuade the watchmaker to build others astronomical clocks abroad, as well, to be placed and admired by locals and passers-by in the midst of the important squares in the most representative cities. But Mikulas refused to show his art work plans, respecting his pledge and word of honor that he had given in front of the municipal councilors of Prague.

Yet worried that Mikulas could build a bigger clock elsewhere, that another nation could enjoy the privilege to admire a better and more beautiful clock, the councilors of the city built a plot against Master Hanus and they blinded him, to ensure that such a clock will never be reproduced. Distraught, the clock-maker decided to take revenge: aided by a disciple, he went to the clock tower and ruined its mechanism, so no one knew how to fix it for about a century. He also cursed the clock, so that everybody who have tried to repair it have gone mad or died.

Of course, this is just a legend, but it stands as a true testament to this fantastic creation that the astronomical clock in the Czech capital is. Since 1380, when it was conceived, the clock has been altered, destroyed and repaired many times. In any case, it is the most famous astronomical clock in the world, has four automatic mechanisms and a rotating dial on which the 12 apostles are placed in a specific order and they change with every hour. It displays the Babylonian time, old Bohemia hour, the German time and sidereal time. It can decipher the phases of the moon and rotation of the sun in the zodiacal constellation. The calendar clock face that is placed below shows the day of the month, the day of week, and the religious holidays, and later on, in the 1800’s, another watchmaker, Josef Manes, added the symbols of the 12 horoscope signs to the original mechanism in the form of allegorical paintings depicting the signs of the zodiac.

Probably one of the best-known symbols of Prague is the astronomic clock placed on the Southern wall of the City Hall and it is one of the most fascinating pieces of its kind if we keep in mind that it was built in the 15th century. There is a tragic legend that accompanies this masterpiece: it is said that after having been blinded by the greedy and vain officials, managed to recreate the clock, after all, and afterwards he threw himself off the top of the mechanism and died. But his clock is still working perfectly.

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Pic1: fashionistasdaily.wordpress.com; Picture 2: independent.co.uk; Picture 3: trip101.com; Picture 4: free-city-guides.com; Picture 5: orloj.eu; Picture 6: christopherkulawik.com; Picture 7: commons.wikimedia.org