The astronomical clock is not merely a mechanism showing the time.

To this day it is shrouded in peculiar mystery and legends.


Medieval thought was full of supernatural forces and secret symbols.

Astronomical clocks were constructed inside cathedrals in order to ensure their protection from evil demons. The Prague astronomical clock is entirely outside, and so had to be protected against supernatural forces. It was provided by protection by the sculptural decoration from the workshop of Petr Parléř and other artists. The average tourist notices only the largest statues of the Skeleton, the Miser, Vanity, the Angel and the Cock.

The cock sits at the top as a symbol of bravery and watchfulness. By crowing it drives away evil powers.

Between the windows containing the apostles is the oldest statue on the astronomical clock – the angel, the messenger of God and the great archangel to the left of the dial of the astrolabe a warrior with dragons and dark forces.

Of most interest however are the small statuettes around the astrolabe. At the top is the lion, king and guard, the dog as a symbol of watchfulness, protection and loyalty. In Egypt the sacred cat is a symbol of independence, but also of calculation and shrewdness. The cat, which saved Noah's Ark from sinking. Here there is an animal resembling a snake, with a peculiar pointed head piece as a symbol of freedom and purity from ancient Rome. There are also small dragons as a warning against the underworld, which is governed by dark forces.

Also here are the fantastical faces known as Mascarons, with hideous expressions to drive away external dangerous elements. They are provided with company by a bat, presented as a refined devil, and beneath the astrolabe the devil himself, with ears and eyes as depicted on the ace of clubs in Mariáš cards. It is as if these mascarons and devils wished to make clear to outside demons that the space is occupied and that they most go elsewhere. On the right the large skeleton with an hour glass expresses that everything that exists in this world is merely transitory. 

The world-renowned Prague astronomical clock and its genius loci – including the ancient tales and legends – remains inextricably linked with the tower of the Old Town Hall, the most significant secular construction of the Old Town on the right bank of the river Vltava.

The Prague Astronomical Clock is shrouded in a number of legends, the best known of which is that of the architectural master Hanuš.
Legend has it that the astronomical clock was constructed by the master Hanuš. However, the aldermen of the Old Town Hall were afraid that the master Hanuš might also build such a superb astronomical clock for another town, and so devised a cruel plan. In the middle of the night attackers broke into Hanuš's house and blinded him. The master Hanuš understood why he had been blinded, and knew that this was evidently a plan of the aldermen. As a result, in the twilight of his life he asked his assistant to lead him to the internal part of the clock. He placed his hand in the machinery, turned a certain component and the clock was stopped. For another 100 years nobody was capable of repairing the machinery due to its complexity.

Fearsome legends surround the astronomical clock. If the clock stops the consequences shall be dire for the whole of Bohemia, if it breaks down it will be a bad year, and if anybody behaves in a disrespectful or unfriendly manner towards the clock then that person shall be punished.