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Prague Astronomical Clock: a magical place you should not miss

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One of Prague’s must-see monuments, the Astronomical Clock has built up quite a reputation over the years. The building is quite simply magnificent.

But do you really know its history?

This funny clock is a bit special and, above all, one of a kind. More than just a pretty place from which to take photos, it’s a veritable work of history that needs to be protected, admired and, above all, understood.

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Where is Prague's astronomical clock?

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The Prague Astronomical Clock is located at Staroměstské nám. 1, 110 00 Josefov, right in the heart of the city. Getting there couldn’t be easier.

You can take the metro towards Náměstí Republiky and walk a few minutes towards the center. You can also get off at Mustek and walk through the old historic center.

Prague Astronomical Clock: a legendary story

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The year was 1410, and construction was entrusted to a certain Nicolas de Kadau. Around 1490, the clock was transformed by another clockmaker, Hanus, to such an extent that many believe him to be the real architect.

The building was so popular that legend has it that the town councillors of the time decided to blind the artist, so that he would never again reproduce such a work. Later, in the 16th century in particular, the Prague clock was perfected by Jan Taborsky and Josef Mánes.

Even today, the building has not revealed all its secrets. A message has been discovered at the heart of the clock (in one of the apostles). A message written by the sculptor Vojtěch Sucharda. The latter, at the time, had been invited by the public authorities to rework around certain sculptures that had been completely destroyed following the bombings of the Second World War.

This message echoed a real project for Prague’s astronomical clock, and was an opportunity for him to criticize the working and living conditions there, at a time when Communism was gradually beginning to take hold.

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How does the Prague Astronomical Clock work?

More than a real clock, this one is a veritable jewel of goldsmithery and mechanism. It works in three different ways:

  • Its first purpose is to represent the celestial bodies in motion: Sun, Moon and Earth, the Prague Clock actually highlights Ptolemy’s geocentric model. In other words, we can watch the stars revolve around our good old planet. But what’s the point? It helps us understand sunrises, sunsets, moons, etc…
  • The second dial is made up of small medallions representing each month of the year. This recent disc was added to the original in 1886. The work was carried out by Josef Mánes. We can also see the signs of the zodiac and the symbols of the city.
  • Last but not least, the parade of the 12 apostles takes place every hour from 9am to 9pm. This is one of the most popular sights to see when visiting Prague’s Astronomical Clock.

Visit the Prague Astronomical Clock Tower

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It’s quite possible to visit Prague’s astronomical clock tower. It’s open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays.

After climbing a few steps, you’ll reach the top of the lookout. You’ll find yourself at a height of 66 metres. This is your chance to admire the compact crowd below, and take some great shots.

What to see after the Prague Astronomical Clock?

Once you’ve visited the clock, there are still plenty of interesting monuments to discover. In the surrounding area, take a stroll through the old town and enjoy the bustle, the little stores and…the boutiques at trdelník!

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After the Prague Astronomical Clock, treat yourself to a good trdelník. It’s one of the local specialties.

What about monuments? You can visit the Charles Bridge and the Castle, as well as the John Lennon Wall, a symbol of peace and unity in the Czech Republic. And don’t hesitate to stop off at one of the city’s many restaurants, if the time is right.

One thing’s for sure: a visit to the Astronomical Clock doesn’t last long, so you’ll have plenty of time to do other things whenever you feel like it!

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