Architecture Around the World

Prague Old Town Hall
Czech Republic
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The tower and the former private house of Volflin of Kamen

The former private house of Volflin of Kamen

Finials / acroteria ... Terra cotta roof

Gothic door crved by Matthias Rejsek


Compound arches, the top being an ogee arch

3 grotesques





Tower and Astronomical Clock

Tower and Astronomical Clock

Tower and Astronomical Clock

Tower and Astronomical Clock

In 1364 the tower was added to what was the private house of Volflin of Kamen

Gothic tower roof



The Astronomical Clock contains figures of apostles from 1410. 12 apostles appear every hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Note zodiac signs

Note calendar


The Old Town Square is the oldest and most important square of the historical Prague. It is surrounded with historical buildings such as the Old Town City Hall with the famous Astronomical Clock

One of the most striking buildings in Prague is the Old Town Hall, established in 1338 after King John of Luxemburg agreed to set up a town council.

The Old Town City Hall was the place, where Czech estates elected George of Podebrady the King of Bohemia in 1458. It was also used as a prison for the Czech Protestant nobles rebelling against Emperor Matthias in 1620. Twenty-seven of them were executed at the Old Town Square in front of the Old Town City Hall in 1621.

Over the centuries a number of old houses were knocked down as the Old Town Hall expanded, and it now consists of a row of colorful Gothic and Renaissance buildings, most of which have been carefully restored after heavy damage inflicted by the Nazis in the 1945 Prague Uprising.

Astronomical clock

The astronomical clock of Prague's town hall was built in 1410 by royal clockmaker Mikulas of Kadan and the rector of Prague University Master Jan Sindel. This was the first time in Central Europe that such a large astronomical clock was placed on the facade of a secular building. Fitted with an astronomical dial, it was enhanced with a calendar dial at the end of the 15th century by Jan Ruze.

The clock consists of three parts built in vertical succession: the procession of the apostles (Vojta Sucharda's wood carvings from 1946-47 replacing the originals that were destroyed by gunfire and fire in 1945), the astronomical dial, and Josef Manes' calendar, created in 1866, in the form of a round disc with allegorical portrayals of the twelve months of the year.

Every hour the procession of the apostles takes place; it includes the skeleton, the symbol of death, with one hand ringing a bell and the second overturning an hourglass. This parade also features personages dating back to the 17th century for the skeleton is symbolic of other figures whose time has expired.

In addition to this, there are two allegories of Vice (Avarice and Vanity) that shake their heads in disapproval, as well as the personage of the Turk, which is a reminder of the Turkish invasion of Central Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.

In the windows of the upper part of the astronomical clock, the twelve apostles gradually make an appearance. After the departure of the last one, the windows close once again. Then the cock at the peak flaps its wings and crows, and the bells resound as the clock strikes the hour.

- Prague Spot

Photos and their arrangement © 2008 Chuck LaChiusa
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