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Apr 17 2015

A Clock with a Difference: The Astronomical Clock in Olomouc

The first place I stayed at on my recent visit to the Czech Republic was Olomouc, and one of the many interesting things I came across during my time there was the astronomical clock.

The Astronomical Clock in OlomoucThis striking astronomical clock is integrated into the Town Hall.  It was created somewhere around the 15th century.  This astronomical clock is only one of two in the country with the other in Prague.  This is, apparently, one of the early examples of organising society using the 24-hour clock.

Apparently, it’s a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque as it has been renovated numerous times with the current facade from the 1950s.  I can’t imagine how long it must have taken to piece together this masterpiece.  Because this clock was remodelled during the communist period, it is in the style of social realism, and gives of insight into that era.  I have read that one of the dials displays the International Day of the Worker, the old communist holidays, and the birthdays of Lenin and Stalin.  This is one of the few statues and monuments that have survived from that era since most of them have been removed.

Being an astronomical clock, it does a wee bit more than a normal clock.  With the numerous dials on this clock, apart from telling the time, it shows the day of the week, the month, the phase of the moon, it somehow maps the stars, the four seasons, and has the twelve houses of the zodiac.  In addition, 365 saints’ days are on the clock.  This is important for those that celebrate name days, and people in the Czech Republic do.  If you have no idea what I’m referring to, it basically means that people celebrate the day of the saint they are named after as well as their birthday.

So, there’s quite a bit to this rather unique and rare clock.  By the by, we just so happened to be there at the stroke of midday when it briefly came to life.  Although it isn’t the greatest spectacle, if you’re in Olomouc, it’s worth waiting around in front of the clock to see the daily performance.

Oh, one last thing: You can take some ‘arty’ shots of the lower dial on a sunny day.  We were very fortunate to have a clear, blue sky, and the sun was shining.  As you can see from the above photo, there’s the reflection of the buildings opposite in the clock face.  We spent ages taking close up photos of it.


If you arrive by train, as we did, it’s about a 15 minute walk to reach the square where this clock is located.

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Have your say

 Have you seen this or any other astronomical clock?  Let me know if you have because, having seen the two in the Czech Republic, I’d be interested to compare them to others that are still in existence.

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