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Orloj - the clock of the Town Hall


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Orloj is the world famous spectacle of the Town Hall tower. The Town Hall got its first tower clock in the 15th century. The clockwork was transformed by clock master Hanus in 1490 - the legends say the clock was so beautiful that the senators of the town made the eyes of the master put out with the goal making him not to be able to make such a masterpiece for others. The clockwork has been repaired several times, it has been functioning even in our days, it was brought to perfection by Jan Táborsky between 1552 and 1572.

The clock consists of three independent parts next to one another: the puppet play, the sphere circle and the calendar. Topmost is the puppet play which is considered the peak of the spectacle, attracting crowds of spectators when at every round o'clock a bell rings, two little windows open and the twelve apostles come out. The procession is started by a skeleton, which stands on the right side and represents Death. With one hand he pulls the rope of a little bell, with the other hand he turns the sand glass held in his hand. Then the two windows open, and the figures of the apostles appear, lead by St. Peter. Then the raven begins to croak and the clock beats the exact time. In the puppet play we meet the figure of the Turk shaking his head, reminding the threat of the Turks, we see Vanity gazing herself in the mirror, and we see Greed, depicted in the medieval cliché as a Jewish moneychanger.

There are two large dials under the puppet play. The upper one is the sphere board, showing the moving of the Sun and the Moon, and showing the passing of time. The dial reflects the medieval view that Earth is the middle of the Universe. The hand, pointing at the clocks and holding the Sun shows three different times in fact. The Arabic numerals on the middle ring show the hours in the medieval Czech timing which starts at sunset. The ring of the Roman numerals shows the time as we know it; the blue zone divided into twelve parts shows the sunshine hours. Between them the signs of the Zodiac can be seen.

The lowest dial is the youngest component of Orloj. This is the calendar which counts the days and the months. Its ornaments were designed by painter Josef Mánes. The twelve inner medaillons depict the signs of the zodiac, each stands for a month, while the outer medaillon depict scenes from folk life characteristic of the months. A great significance was attributed to the twelve signs of the zodiac in the 1500s in Prague.

Angels with swords, scepters, shields stand on the two sides of the calendar, and sculpture figures of three citizens as a symbol of fair governing of the city.



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