The tower was built for a merchants gothic house in 1338. Later on, what is now the Old Town Hall started to come together when various of the burgher houses were bought up and combined. Needless to say these were remodeled over time. When you are down on the ground you will see the trumpeter up in the tower. But you will also see some people waving. These people are tourists just like you.
To visit you have the choice of going up the stairs or taking a modern elevator. Even if you take the stairs its not that far up. The tower is only 69 meters high.
Tuesday to Sunday- 9 am to 10 pm
Admission-ADULTS - 100 Kč
note- there is a combined admission for historical halls, underground and the tower, much more economical***
After 5 visits to Prague, just found out you can visit inside both the town hall and the tower, with a lift inside , price was good as well, 160Kc each lots of history and English guides at 10:30am and 1:30 pm plus you get to see the inside of the clock.
The astronomical clock of Prague (Czech: Staroměstský Orloj or Pražský Orloj) is a medieval astronomical clock in the center of the Czech Republic capital Prague. The watch is attached to the southern wall of the Old Town Hall on Old Town Square in the Old Town of Prague.
It consists of three main parts.
The first item in the middle, the astronomical dial displays the time and let the position of the sun and the moon.
The clock shows five types of time:
- The true local time in Prague;
- The time measured in a distribution of 12 'hours' between sunrise and sunset, the 'unequal hours', they are from day to day longer or shorter, since the period between sunrise and sunset every day is different;
- The time measured in a division of 24 hours which indicates how long the Sun is at the moment (24) of sunset, the so-called Bohemian or Italian hours;
- The position of the sun in the zodiac;
- The sidereal time.
The movement consists of three independently rotating disks: hard disk in the middle, the outer ring and the zodiac. There are three pointers: the hand with the hand, the sun at that pointer slide back and forth, and the pointer with the asterisk, which is rigidly connected to the zodiac disc.
According to legend, the creator of the clock in Prague, when it was finished, blinded so that he no longer such a movement could make for another city.
The second part top the Parade of the Apostles. Every hour there are two small doors open and there will be a parade of apostles over.
The third bottom part is a dial with medallions representing the months and how proposals for each day the saint is indicated.
The oldest part of the movement dates from the early 15th century. The apostles are only added in 1865.
The clock work may be seen every hour on the hour between 9am and 9pm. Lots of tourists normally gather in front of it before the clock strikes, however, it wasn't really crowded so we managed to get a really good spot. There are no costs or fees to view the Astronomical Clock. However, you will be asked to pay a fee if you'd like to access the Old Town Hall Tower, which is adjacent to the clock.
Old Town Hall Tower opening hours:
Monday - 11am to 5pm
Tuesday to Sunday 9am - 5pm
An astronomical clock is a clock with special mechanisms and dials to display astronomical information, such as the relative positions of the sun, moon, zodiacal constellations, and sometimes major planets.
The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the only one still working.
The Orloj is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town City Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism itself is composed of three main components:
the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details;
"The Walk of the Apostles", a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time;
and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months.
This is the main sight in Old Town Square. The crowds gather each hour to watch its unique astronomical clock toll the hour, warning us everyone that they are an hour closer to death. Then they applaud. I loved it and never missed it myself when I was nearby.
For the 600 anniversary of the clock there was special video projection (video-mapping) created. It is presented on the Tower/clock. It is 10 minutes long and very spectacular- highly recommended.
Although it was intended to be shown just once, it was repeated on two more occasions. Now it was announced that on SATURDAYS evenings in August and September these video-projections will be presented. No evening time was announced yet, presumably it will be at 22:00 (or even several times during the evening?) as the darkness is essential for the effect - check with the tourist info services.
The views from the top of the Old Town Hall are wonderful and give you a lovely perspective on the fascinating 'roofscape' of the Old Town. From this vantage point, you realise how tightly packed the Old Town is, and what a teeming mass of humanity this must have been in the days when the Old Town was residential (don your thermals and try this just before Christmas when there is a Christmas market in the main square to see what I mean).
This viewpoint also gives you a better view of the beautiful Gothic Church of Our Lady before Tyn. Unfortunately the facade of this church has been obscured by later buildings which were constructed immediately in front of the church, and usually all you can see are the iconic towers rising above the surrounding buildings.
To state the obvious, you will not be the only person wanting to see the Old Town from this perspective, and the spectacular views mean that most visitors linger to try and get the perfect panoramic photos. Thus, as ever, it helps to visit out of peak hours (usually earlier is better than later) and ideally out of peak season so that you aren't crowded out.
The astronomical clock is located just off the Main Square in the Old Town and is one of Prague's main tourist attractions. It should therefore come as no surprise that it can get VERY crowded just before the hour as people gather to watch the clock figures 'perform'.
Several other VTers seem to have been so frustrated by the crowds that they have listed the astronomical clock under 'Tourist Traps', which is a shame, since it is a wonderful piece of engineering and well worth seeing. Some people also seem a little miffed that the 'show' is brief and not very spectacular, but perhaps we should remember that we are judging this against the frenetic standards of the 21st century where CG graphics are almost a standard expectation: to the average citizen in the 15th century (when it was built), it would have seemed utterly spectacular.
The clock 'performs' on the hour every hour between 0900 and 2100. The obvious suggestion is therefore to go out of peak hours: I would suggest going early before the crowds are out and about, as the Main Square is a popular tourist hangout in the evening. It is also likely to be a little less crowded in the week than over weekends when Prague is inundated by the 'citybreak' contingent.
Even better, try to go out of the season (summer and major public holidays such as Easter and Christmas) when I think that Prague is at its best - airfares and hotel prices will be lower and the city will be less crowded!
For those interested in astronomical clocks, the only other one in the country is in the charming little university city of Olomouc, a couple of hours east of Prague by train (see my travel tips). The facade of the Olomouc clock was rebuilt in a Socialist realist style after it was vandalised by retreating German troops at the end of World War II and is a fascinating piece of propaganda, with the saints' figures having been replaced by worthy Communist-era role models such as agricultural labourers and housewives! This brilliant clock is reason enough to visit Olomouc, and fortunately this lovely town (which is a little off the well-beaten tourist circuit of Prague - Cesky Krumlov - Kutna Hora) has lots more to offer the tourist - minus the crowds - and makes a marvellous counterpoint to Prague if you have a little more time to explore the Czech Republic.
When you are walking around the Old Town Square and see a massive crowd gathering at one corner at 15 min before each hour, they are waiting for the Astronomical Clock to go off. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Prague, although not nearly the most impressive.
The clock goes off every hour on the hour and features astronomical movements and a procession of statues of the apostles. The show is very quick, so if you plan on taking video or pictures make sure you are in a good spot 10-15 minutes before the hour. Crowds gather quickly.
I found a nice history of the clock here:
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