This weekend in Prague, we visited the stellar Astronomical clock in the Old Town City, a remarkable example of the medieval astrolabe. I remembered seeing this clock in an art-astrology lecture and it’s truly one of a kind. It is a clock that tells time, but a special one. From my position down below, I could see the Sun’s hand pointing to the current progression of the Sun, the Moon’s pointing to the Moon’s position. The calendar medallion below displays each day of the year, with various cryptic writing.
Yet much I couldn’t make out from my perspective below, including the planetary hours, the ecliptics, sideral time and more. Maybe I just missed it, but there wasn’t any information on hand about the clock.
Yet it’s clear that visitors and locals love it, judging from the way the street in front of the clock turned into Disneyland every hour on the hour when, delightfully, a skeleton figure, looking like the grim reaper his self, rings the bell to launch doors above the clock to open for a circular procession of Apostles.
Urban legend speaks to the clocks popularity. A rumor began that the commissioners of the clock attempted to blind the builder of the clock, Master Hanus, to prevent him from replicating a similar clock for other cities. Medieval creepy!
I’ve wanted to see this Astrolabe for years and its charm truly lives up to the hype.