Czech name: Pražský Orloj
When you’re doing Prague sightseeing, you won’t want to miss a chance to see the medieval Prague Astronomical Clock. The clock dates back to 1410, making it the third-oldest clock of its kind that is still in operation. The Old Town Square location helps put many of the city’s top attractions within easy reach. Unique artwork added to the tower over the years is one reason why a visit should be on your list when in Prague.
Location & How to Get There
The astronomical clock is on the Old Town Hall Tower, on the southern side. The address is Staroměstské náměstí 1/3, which puts the tower right in the midst of the Old Town area. When you take a tour that includes this area, you are likely to be able to see the clock and tower very easily.
The nearest station is Staroměstská stop (Metro A) or Staroměstská tram stop. From there your walk will be no more than 10 minutes long.
Opening Hours & Entry
The historical interiors are available for tours from 11.00 to 19.00 on Mondays from January through September, while staying open until 20.00 October through December. On Tuesdays through Sundays, interior tours are available from 9.00 to 19.00 from January through September, with tours until 20.00 from October through December.
You can see the Old Town Hall Tower for tours on Mondays from 11.00 to 22.00 from January through September, with tours being available through 20.00 from October through December. Tours are also available Tuesday through Sunday from 9.00 to 22.00 from January through September, and 9.00 to 20.00 October through December.
On Tuesdays through Sundays, visitors enjoy 50% off entry fees between 9.00 and 10.00. The basic entry fee is 250 CZK, with reduced entry costing 150 CZK. Family admission is 500 CZK.
What to Do & What to See
This astronomical clock is an essential part of Prague sightseeing that you will want to keep in mind. When the clock strikes the hour between 9.00 and 11.00, you will see a procession that includes the Twelve Apostles of New Testament fame.
There are also other moving figures that you’ll see when the clock strikes. One is a skeleton that rotates an hourglass while shaking his head, demonstrating to the Turks oppressing the region at the time that their time was up. Figures of a Miser and Vain man behave similarly.
Besides being a functional timepiece over 600 years old, the clock’s astronomical part shows relative locations for the sun, moon, Zodiac constellations, and sometimes, planets. The dial for the astronomical aspect of the clock is an astrolabe.
Gothic statues accentuate the clock, drawing more attention to its design. A golden crowing rooster also attracts attention to this clock’s unique design.
The tower that houses the clock became an addition to the house that makes up the Town Hall in 1364. This tower was of importance because of how towers symbolized power and security for Czech society. Mikuláš of Kadaň, under the direction of the King, created the clock in 1410, with a calendar plate and the Death figure added in 1490 by Jan Růže.
In May 1945, the Nazis destroyed the Town Hall, resulting in damage to the clock mechanism and the wooden figures. The clock was operating again in 1948 with new figures.
In 1976, replicas replaced the original statues and sculptures. The originals are on display in the Prague City Museum.