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. The external Gothic sculptures and skeletal figure of Death striking the bell were added in 1490 and the internal parade of 12 Apostles in 1866.
Prague – Been There

Prague’s Orloj tells time in more than one way

Photo by Offscreen

Prague – Been There Prague’s Orloj tells time in more than one way

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.


Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

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! 

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The Old Town Square, between Wenceslas Square and the Charles Bridge, is famous for its medieval Astronomical Clock – the oldest still working. Dating to 1410, the clock shows a parade of the Apostles every hour from 9am to 9pm. Photo by Peter Adams

Peter Adams

Peter Adams

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II

Aperture
ƒ/10
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100
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30 mm

The Old Town Square, between Wenceslas Square and the Charles Bridge, is famous for its medieval Astronomical Clock – the oldest still working. Dating to 1410, the clock shows a parade of the Apostles every hour from 9am to 9pm.

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