When you look at the astronomical clock, you can understand at a glance that it is not just a clock. Although I went by researching beforehand, when I first saw the watch, I felt as if I was fascinated by the legends I had heard about it. It really transports you to another time, it’s like a time machine in that sense. The medieval clock dates back 600 years. In those days, people didn’t just use watches to learn time, and the astronomical clock follows the idea of multi-purpose. It provides information about the clock, the position of the moon and the sun, the time of sunrise and sunset, and the holy days of the Christian religion. At the same time, there are symbols of the 12 signs of the zodiac on it.
The clock, made in 1410, is the third oldest clock in the world and has different stories. According to legend, the master Hanos—whom the legend attributes to being the designer of the astronomical clock in place of Mikulas Kadan—who collected three different clocks in one by order of the Czech king, was blinded by the king’s order after the clock was completed. The fame of the watch, which in a short time spread throughout Europe, made the rulers of other cities want one for themselves, but the king did not allow it. In order to prevent this from happening, the master who made the watch was blinded. According to rumors, the master could not stand these atrocities and committed suicide by hanging himself on the clock tower by breaking the clock in such a way that no one could operate it. Of course, years later, another watchmaker was able to fix the watch. The clock is currently the oldest working clock in the world.
The legends about the clock do not end here. In another story, the watch is referred to as the “Devil’s Eye”. Legend has it that when the Czech nation faces disaster, the clock stops. It is said that there are still those who believe in this legend in the city and that people are very afraid that the clock has stopped. Those who believe in this also believe that Mr. Hanus has blinded his eyes because the clock is somehow connected to magic.
There are different colors and different numbers on the clock. The blue part represents the infinite sky and the brown part represents the earth. The watch shows both Babylonian time and old and new European time at the same time.
There are four sculptures in total, to the right and left of the clock. They all have different meanings. The figure holding a mirror represents arrogance and vanity, the figure holding a stick and a coin bag in one hand represents greed, the skeleton figure represents death, and the figure playing the mandolin represents joy and pleasure. These numbers were intended to explain the bad characteristics of people.
Just below the clock are four more statues. Meanwhile, these sculptures describe the characteristics that a person should have. The figure holding a book in his hand represents science, the Archangel Michael who holds a sword in his hand represents justice, the person with a feather in his hand represents philosophy and the person with a telescope represents astronomy. There are two windows above the clock. Inside these windows are statues of the twelve apostles of Jesus. Every hour the skeleton rings the bell and spins the hourglass in his hand. At this time, the windows open and the 12 apostles appear in order.
You can see an incredible crowd in front of the clock, especially at the beginning of the clock. This is because this animation happens every hour. For example, at exactly 1 o’clock, the skeleton rings the bell and turns the hourglass. Here the skeleton tells us that it is time to die. Other characters shake their heads trying to make it clear that they’re not ready for it. Meanwhile, the 12 apostles pass through the two windows above. The animation ends with a cock crowing at the windows. In this animation, the skeleton asserts that everything is temporary, that death can come at any time and that we must be prepared for it, while the other characters try to explain their denial to him.
According to rumors, a skeleton representing death could represent a danger and disaster for the city. However, it is said that there is a way to prevent this. They believe that the only thing that can prevent disaster is a child. At the end of each year, at midnight, the skeletal figure turns around and shakes its head toward the church in the square. They believe that if a child leaves the church when the skeleton starts to nod and reaches the clock tower by the time the skeleton shakes, the city will avoid disasters.
There is also a different opinion about the architect of this legendary watch, whose stories and tales do not end, that the engineer is not really Hanus. While researchers in the country claim that Mikulas of Kadan made the watch, Mikulas is also said to have cursed the watch.
Is this watch that manages to gather hundreds of people around every hour, a trap designed to lure tourists into the city? Or are these stories being circulated as true legends? I don’t know, but I’m convinced they are.
However, there is this; It would be unfair for a city like Prague to come to Prague just to see the astronomical clock, because there are many places to see in Prague except for the astronomical clock. The old machine is only one reason. I hope to see you in my next article, where I will describe other, interesting and beautiful Prague grounds.