As we travel through time and space, we need something to keep track of that. Six centuries ago a clock was built. Not just your normal clock, but an Astronomical clock. To witness such history you must travel to Staromestske Namesti Square, in Prague, Czech Republic. This will put you face to face with the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating.
Surrounded by the Church of St. Nicholas in the Little Quarter it was placed on the southern side of the wall on the Old Town Hall’s tower in 1410.
The clock mechanism itself has three main components:
- The astronomical dial (representing the position of the Sun and Moon).
- “The Walk of the Apostles” (an hourly clockwork show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures).
- Calendars dial with medallions representing the months.
The clock shows four different times:
- Old-Bohemian time (measured from the sunrise to the sunset).
- Babylonian time (the length of an hour differs there according to the season – it is longer in the summer, shorter in the winter). Prague’s astronomical clock is the only one in the world capable of measuring this time.
- Star time (shows the day and its position within a week, a month and a year).
- Central European time (most distinctive indicator showing 24 Roman numerals depicting the 24 hours in a day). This measure of time was added after the reconstruction in 1948.
Prague’s Astronomical clock was created at a time when it was not necessary to show the minutes on the clock. The main function was to depict the movement of celestial bodies, time as we know it today was merely a secondary element. For this reason you will not find a seconds hand on the clock.
Each clock around the world has its unique characteristics to set it apart from another. There is on the other hand, one thing in common among all astronomical clocks. They represent the celestial bodies in a specific location. For this reason you can’t move one from place to place. To do so would require changing or resetting the clock all together.
Bound by no specific date the Astronomical clock celebrated 600 years of keeping track of the universe in 2010.
The apostle parade can be seen every hour on the hour from 9 a.m. till 11 p.m. during Image Tours Inc. Capitals of Central Europe tour.