This and That

Random bits of my life

Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 27, 2013

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No collection of Prague photos would be complete without the city’s most over-rated tourist attraction, the astronomical clock in the Old Town Square. The dial of the clock shows the position of the sun and moon and astronomical information (this site explains how the the clock works; there’s also an interactive animation). The clock was constructed in 1410. It is the third-oldest clock of its kind and the oldest working astronomical clock in the world.

Every hour, when the clock strikes, lots of tourists (and pickpockets) gather below to watch the show.

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The top of the clock features the “walk of the apostles,” in which the doors above the clocks open and the apostles appear in pairs, bearing their attributes. The thorns on top of the angel’s head are meant to discourage pigeons.

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While the apostles make their appearance, four mechanized figures move their heads back and forth. The figure on the left, below, is Vanity (he’s holding a mirror in front of his face at this angle). The one on the right was originally a bearded Jew holding money bags. Now he is the generic figure, Greed or Usury.

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Death, on the left, pulls a rope, which causes a bell to toll. The figure holding the lute is a Turk, who represents pleasure.

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At the end of the bells you hear a rooster crowing but it doesn’t actually move.

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I played around a bit with colour because it’s hard to find something new when photographing a subject that has been photographed to death.

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Finally, check out this video, which shows an elaborate video-mapping to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the clock:

The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

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