Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Iconic Clock: Astronomical Clock in Prague.

     Prague is a beautiful old European city. Interestingly this wonderful city also has a large population of North Americans (US). In fact our airport limo driver was from New York, but resettled in Prague. As of 2011, it was estimated that there were about 6,000 Americans living as residents of Prague, and another 1300 with extended stay visas. This expat community tends to live in a couple of the districts of the city and therefore socialize. Reasons given for this large North American community are the affordability of living in Prague, its old world charm, a slower life style, and availability of business ventures and entrepreneurial support.  Some American residents say that Prague seems like a more recent "left bank" community (comparing to the artsy world of the Paris Left Bank of the Seine.) In addition, one reason that is given is the advent of streaming of NFL football. The games draw Americans and help to knit the expat community together.

     Prague, of course, has a very long and rich history. It has existed as a city on the banks of the Vitava River for 1,100 years. It served as the capitol of the Holy Roman Empire and the seat of two Holy Roman Emperors. It also was important in the Hapsburg Monarchy and in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I, it served as the capital of the created country of Czechoslavakia. This rich history has produced a city with historic landmarks, a large number of museums, and universities, and the entire old city is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Prague is the current capitol of the Czech Republic and its largest city.

     The Astronomical Clock is located in the southern wall of the Old Town City Hall in Old Town Square, in the city of Prague. Another name for this clock is The Orloj. It consists of three main mechanisms: the astronomical dial which shows the position of the Sun and the Moon in the sky; a clockwork hourly display of the 12 Apostle statues; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months of the year. This mechanical clock is the third oldest clock ever constructed and is the oldest working such clock. It was first constructed in 1410, made by a clockmaker, Mikulas of Kadari and Jan Sindel, a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Charles University in Prague. The clock has been repaired many times. It was almost completely destroyed, at least its wood part, in 1945 during the Prague Uprising, but by 1948 it was repaired and working again.

     Below are some other photos of landmarks in Prague. It is indeed a beautiful city.

Our Lady Church on Tyn, across Old Town Square

Prague skyline with Prague Powder Tower on left, St Nicholas Church in center.

Charles Bridge and one end tower.

Prague skyline viewed under Charles Bridge across Vitava River.

Mulinic;s and Gehry's Dancing House

Narrow street looking toward Old Town Hall.

St. Wenceslaw Square.

Old wooden mill wheel, still operates.

St Vitus Cathedral, main entrance

St. Vitus Cathedral, back view.

Prague Castle with guardhouses.