Legend has it that the clockmaker of Prague’s famous Orloj, Hanus, was blinded by the town councillors so he could not make another, better one, elsewhere. He then disabled the clock in revenge.
In the days when people had no watches, public clocks filled an important function in regulating church-going or the working day. The Astronomical Clock, or Orloj, on the Old Town Hall in Prague is the world’s oldest still functioning, with its original workings dating to 1410. After clockmaker Hanus threatened to disable the clock, it has stopped working for long periods through the centuries. The city council even decided to take it down completely in the 1780s.
Fortunately for us, the beautiful gold-plated Orloj is still there and running, and is one of the main tourist attractions in Prague. During its lifetime, the clock has seen many changes in appearance, with its external Gothic sculptures and skeletal figure of Death striking the bell added in 1490 and the internal parade of 12 Apostles in 1866.
The Astronomical Dial shows the Earth at the center of the universe, taking us back to the earth-centered world views of the past, revealing its age as the oldest part of the clock. The three dials on the frame show the Old Czech Time, Central European Time and, uniquely, Babylonian Time – where the hours are longer in summer and shorter in winter.
Prague's Old Town boasts a number of Truly Wonderful hotels. Check out this one!