When There Were Two Astronomical Clocks in Prague

In addition to the famous Old Town Astronomical Clock, Prague also had a… second astrological clock in the New Town on Karlovo náměstí.

The clock was far from spectacular: it had no comparable architectural decoration and there was no figural decoration. However, it was noteworthy that it had a completely different style than the clock in Old Town. It was an astronomical clock of the Italian type, whose most famous representative is in Padua, Italy at Pallazzo del Capitano.

The clock in Padua, Italy features a large dial with a protruding globe. The concentric circles gradually show the moon with its phases and ecliptic signs. The outer circle is a 24-hour clock face. The Astronomical Clock of Padua is complemented by a raffia that carries a cube depicting the Sun.

The astronomical clock on the New Town Hall tower was smaller than the Padua tower. The surviving depictions show images of the phases of the moon and the signs of the zodiac. The astronomical clock also showed the orbit of the Sun. The New Town Hall lacked an external 24-hour circle.

Interestingly, both the Padua and New Town clocks had only eleven zodiac signs depicted. One of Padua’s signs was missing, apparently, because the local councilors did not pay for it properly, and he instead deleting one sign. The New Town Astronomical Clock was probably just a simple omission, or more likely, that the artists wrongly planned the drawing and the twelfth sign simply did not fit on the design.

The New Town Astronomical Clock was likely destroyed due to the ancient ravages between the Old and New Town of Prague, which were independent towns until 1784. Moreover, the machine was removed at the end of the 18th century. The Old Town Astronomical Clock escaped a similar fate, and still remains preserved.

You can find more information about the second Prague astronomical clock in David Černý’s book 25 Secrets of Prague.

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