History of the Astronomical Clock
According to the latest research, the astronomical clock was built in 1410 by the royal clockmaker Mikulas of Kadan in collaboration with Master Jan Ondrejuv, called Sindel, professor of mathematics and astronomy in Prague‘s Charles University. The astrolabe mechanisms they constructed over 600 years ago are still working. 80 years after initial construction, the legendary master Hanush rebuilt the clock. And, as the legend goes, the Councillors had him blinded so that he would not be able to build another instrument greater than the Prague Astronomical Clock. The story also goes that before he died, master Hanush deliberately damaged the clock so seriously, that nobody could ever fix it again. He also cursed the instrument, so those whoever tried to repair it either went mad or died. The Old Town Hall with its Astronomical Clock suffered a lot at the end of the Second World War. On the last day of the war, the historical center of Prague was the main target of Nazi bombardment. The whole complex of the Old Town Hall completely burnt down. Fortunately, everything was able to be reconstructed and the figures of the apostles were replaced by the works of the woodcarver Vojtech Sucharda soon after.
The figures of the 12 apostles, blessing the city at every hour were added in more recent times, during the major repair works carried out in the years 1865-1866. As well as the figures of the 12 apostles, there are also eight immobile figures on the sides of the astronomical dial and the calendar dial. Four figures on the sides of the astronomical dial are supposed to be the symbols of the Prague medieval society. On the left side you can see the allegory of the Vanity admiring itself in a mirror and the Miserly Jew holding his bag of gold. On the right side there is the skeleton as the symbol of Death ringing his bell and the the figure of Turk (or The Piper) shaking its head in disapproval. Below the astronomical dial you can see the Calendar dial, painted by Josef Manes in 1805. Actually, the one you see is a replica, the original has been safely kept on the sides of the stairway of the Prague Museum of History. Getting back to our figures, on the sides of the Calendar you will see, from left to right, a chronicler, an angel, an astronomer and a philosopher. The Clock Tower is decorated with exquisite coats of arms and different royal symbols. There is also a rooster that crows after the Apostles have finished their blessing. The Sphere or the astronomical dial shows most important astronomical events: movement of the sun. Notice that the sun circles around the Earth and not the other way around. The position of the Luna cycle, the seasons, the days and the zodiac are also depicted.
Old Town Hall
The history of the Old Town Hall began in 1338, when King John of Luxembourg granted Prague’s Old Town the right to establish its own administrative centre. The gothic house of the wealthy merchant Wolflin of Kamen was bought as the Town Halls foundation. Other parts of the complex were added as new buildings were purchased and modified. After the mid-14th century the construction of the 70 metrer high tower was completed. Later the astronomical clock was added and a statue of the Madonna was placed on the corner in the 1380’s, thereby consecrating the town hall’s oriel chapel. The Old Town Hall has always been associated with the most significant events in the history of our country. It was here where George of Poděbrady was elected to the throne of Bohemia in 1458. After the Battle of White Mountain, the leading participants of the anti-Habsburg uprising were imprisoned here. Twenty seven of these were subsequently executed on 21 June 1621 in front of the Old Town Hall. When the four districts of Prague merged in 1784, the Old Town Hall became the main seat of the unified official administration of the city. At that time, the building underwent many alterations. Weddings have been held in the Old Town Hall since 1871. At the end of the Second World War, the Town Hall was the focal point of an insurrection, and the Czech National Committee directed operations from its basement. On 7 May 1945, the Old Town Hall was bombarded by tank fire. In the course of the following conflagration, the eastern and northern wings of the building, opposite Týn Church, were completely destroyed. The tower with the Astrological Clock and a chapel were also heavily damaged. Nowadays, the Old Town Hall houses an exhibition dedicated to King Charles IV.
The most important room in the Old Town Hall is the so-called Council Hall constructed during the second half of the 15th century, where all the important proceedings were held. The joist ceiling, with its rich renaissance decoration of the lacunars from the second half of the 16th century and gilded chains, is authentic. The late-gothic console with an angel, which bears the inscription Juste Iudicate Filii Hominis, or Judge fairly, sons of man, is complemented by a high-gothic sculpture of the suffering of Christ from 1410. The town symbols above the portals and 46 guild coats of arms and 12 municipal coats of arms on the wooden panelling of the walls originated in the 15th and the 16th centuries. The interior is adorned with the baroque tiled stove.
Jiřík Hall and Brožík Hall
The so-called Jiřík Hall and Brožík Hall on the second floor are definitely worthy of attention. The Jiřík Hall acquired its name in honor of King George (Jíří in Czech) of Poděbrady whose bust can be found here. On the wall, there is the 1902 painting by Karel Liebscher depicting the View of Petřín Hill. The Brožík Hall owes its present appearance in 1910 to the designs of architect Josef Chochol and it is used as a conference room. It covers the entire ground plan of the building and the height of two floors. It was named after the outstanding painter Václav Brožík famous for two monumental paintings depicting the Election of George of Poděbrady as the King of Bohemia, and Jan Hus in front of the Constance Council.
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