Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Astronomical clock one of Prague's many wonders

After a seven-hour train ride we arrived in Prague. The hotel was right in the old section and dated back to the fourteenth century. Our room had a fresco on the ceiling dating back to the fourteenth or fifteenth century.

It was time to stretch our legs and acquaint ourselves with the local area. We walked along meandering cobbled streets, lined with shops and restaurants and ended up in the Old Town Square just before the hour. There were hordes of tourists with cameras at the ready in front of the Old Town Hall to enjoy a fascinating mechanical performance which in the Middle Ages was considered one of the wonders of the world. The Prague Astronomical Clock, which for 600 years has been one of the greatest treasures of the city, is amazing with its procession of Apostles, moving statues and visualization of time like no other instrument in the world.

Legends about the origins of the Prague Astronomical Clock are many. The most famous one, however, is that it was built by Master Hanuš in 1410. The city councillors at that time were so delighted with the clock that they later began to fear that Master Hanuš would build one like it for another European city. Therefore one dark night they had him blinded, and thus the wondrous clock remained only in Prague. Whether or not this legend is true, what is certain is that at the top of every hour figures on the sides of the clock become animated and two windows open up to reveal 12 apostles greeting the city. On the sides of the clock we saw a skeleton ringing a bell, a Turk shaking his head, a miser with a purse full of money, and Vanity looking in a mirror. The whole performance ends with the crowing of a golden rooster and the ringing of the huge bell at the top of the tower. It is also said that at the first cock-crow in the morning the ghosts and devils flee from Prague. It was a spectacular performance.

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