Friday, December 19, 2014

INTREPIDLY, FROM BERLIN TO VENICE (Part 2): Prague Astronomical Clock

Located at the old town square area of Prague, the Astronomical Clock is definitely the star attraction in these parts, judging from the throng of tourists holding their tablets and cameras, and eagerly awaiting the coming hour. 

First, a bit of history. It was built way back in 1410. One of the (false) legends was that a certain Master Hanus built this clock, and the city councilors were worried he would build another one just like it in another city. Thus, they kidnapped him and blinded him, to ensure their astronomical clock will remain the only one of its kind. 

The clock is chock-full of symbols, such as honored figures during the Medieval times - Astronomer, Philosopher, Chronicler and Angel; and four characteristics detested - a skeleton (Death), a miser with a bag full of money (Greed), a man looking in a mirror (Vanity), and a Turk (Pleasure). It rings at the top of each hour, from 9 AM to 9 PM, and provides a show as well.

 So, let's see what all these tourists are waiting for: (video courtesy of Globetrotter, via You Tube)


Well? Pretty UNDERWHELMING stuff huh? ;-D 

Somehow, the procession of apostles passing by the window and stiffly waving; Death ringing a bell; the golden rooster crowing, and the ringing of the huge bell at the top of the tower, etc.,  just don't seem to cut it, at this day and age.  No laser show, no holograms, no 3D, no surround sound - it's all blah, right? 

In fact, the guide of the Sandemans Free Prague Tour that i joined, a local named Filip, half-jokingly labelled the Astronomical Clock as the "World's Second-Most Disappointing Tourist Attraction". Strong words, indeed. 

I found the 'show' totally dull, and was inclined to agree with him. But he pointed out that it was really a matter of perspective. After all, for something that was more than 600 years old, the clock was definitely space-age-y during its time. 

Besides, after doing some research, interesting facts came to light. The upper dial of the Clock tells Babylonian, German, Italian and Sidereal times SIMULTANEOUSLY. (Sidereal time is time kept with respect to the distant stars) It also keeps track of sunrise and sunset, and the phases of the moon. 

Isn't this great? I'm sure none of the modern, ultra-expensive watches (yes, that's you Chopard, Hublot, Rolex, Cartier and Piaget) can do this!

Going back to Filip, guess what he calls the world's most disappointing tourist attraction? Here's a clue :D :

 I had previously blogged about it in a previous trip to Europe. Click here to find out the answer. :D

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