The most popular part of the Old Town Hall is the astronomical clock tower. Located in Prague‘s most visited square, the astronomical clock is surrounded by an extraordinary crowd every hour.
Built in the 15th century by the clockmaker Hanus, it was so admired that he was blinded so that he could not replicate it elsewhere. Hanus took revenge by breaking the clock. However, the clock was repaired again and even today it remains one of the most beautiful clocks.
The main purpose of the Astronomical Clock was to show the movement of celestial bodies, especially the sun and the moon. Showing the time was thought to be in the second plan.
The medieval clock is set to chime regularly for 1 minute every hour on the hour starting at 09:00 until 21:00. Of course, the symbolic meanings of the clock cannot be ignored. The blue color in the middle symbolizes the sky, while brown symbolizes the earth.
The two figures on the left side of the clock, under which the symbols of the 12 zodiac signs are shown, the one with the mirror in his hand symbolizes vanity and the one with the pouch in his hand symbolizes stinginess and greed. The skeleton on the right side of the clock emphasizes that what is done in the mortal world is futile and what really happens is death, while the Ottoman janissary figure on the right expresses fun. The bell that chimes every hour seems as if the skeleton is ringing it. The other figures reject death by shaking their heads left and right.
The two windows above the clock open at this time and the statues of the 12 apostles begin to pass through these windows. The stone statue between the two windows where the apostles appear is the oldest statue on the astronomical clock tower. However, when the original was damaged in 1945, it was replaced with a copy. The rooster above the apostles crows at the end of the show, which means the bell stops ringing.
Another rare occurrence is when a man plays a trumpet from the top of the Astronomical Clock Tower and concludes with a salute to the applause of the public.
Astronomical Clock Tower
We also went up astronomical clock tower, which gave us a bird’s eye view of Prague and the Old Town, Prague’s oldest residential area. Built in the 14th century, the tower is 70 meters high. It is quite exciting to look at the UNESCO World Heritage Site from this height.
Astronomical Clock Tower is open on Mondays from 11:00 to 22:00. Visiting hours on other days are 09:00 – 22:00.
In addition to Astronomical Clock Tower, there are also the interiors of the buildings to which these structures are attached. Guides show you how several houses connected to each other have been used for centuries.
You may come across guides in different languages at certain intervals to guide you through the historical buildings. If you are good at a language, find out in advance which languages are available at which time. You can visit these buildings between 11:00 – 18:00 on Monday and between 09:00 – 18:00 from Tuesday to Sunday.
When you enter the place, your tour starts with a wonderful stained glass window. The glass is very beautifully painted and the result is a beautiful pattern. Then we see the room of the 12 apostles, which is visible through the windows as the bell rings every hour outside.
Our guide takes us to visit the historical halls of the building. I see a stove that was used in the Middle Ages. The rooms are very big, in a place like Prague, such big rooms must be very difficult to heat. The meeting room with two huge paintings is worth seeing. Both the huge paintings and the spaciousness of the room manage to impress people.
It would be remiss not to mention the room just before the exit. The room we are talking about is a very beautiful room decorated with many mosaics and glass patterns. Fortunately, most of the mosaics have been preserved until today.
Prague Underground Tours
Prague’s historical tours are not limited to the above. There is another city hidden under the fairytale city of Prague. Because the city we know now, Prague, was built on the foundations of a city that existed 800 years ago. So the original city is a few meters below the current one.
These areas are not open to individual visitors, and it is not possible to visit these areas individually. They can only be visited with tours. The stone structures we reach through locked doors were also used as prisons. At some points in the rooms, you can see the writings carved on the walls by the prisoners. Of course, not only the prison but also the bakery, houses, streets and roads can be seen. After all, this used to be a city.
It might cost a bit more to visit the buildings mentioned above, but if you have a Prague Card, you can visit them for free. Remember, you should not use the gate under the astronomical clock to buy tickets, you should use the entrance to the left of the red painted building. You can buy tickets here, but the queues can be very long. Luckily, our guide who showed us around the interior took pity on us and provided transit passage for the visitors. I can say that it is a 3-hour tour in total for planned travelers. It is useful to take this into consideration if you have a route.