Astronomical Clock to stop

Major tourist attraction will likely be replaced with a projection for several months

The Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square will be stopped for several months during the renovations of the clock tower. The renovations will take place from next spring to June 2018. The exact time that the clock will be stopped has not been disclosed.

It is likely, however, that a projection or videomapping will take place on the covered scaffolding while the clock is renovated. The renovations should cost some Kč 46 million. Access to the Old Town Clock Tower by tourists will be restricted for most of the time of the renovation as well. Some 700,000 people visit the tower each year.

The city took bids for the repair until Oct. 17. The winner has not yet been announced. It was previously announced that the astronomical clock, and the interior and exterior of the chapel, the roof and rafters as well as other structural parts will be repaired, and new lighting will put on walkways inside the tower. The exact dates and the fact that the clock would be stopped for several months and that tourists would not be allowed in the tower was not previously stated.

A legend states that stopping the clock signals a pending catastrophe such as a war, but in reality that has not been the case. Some tragedies can be found for each of the years it stopped, but similar ones can be found on other years when the clock was running.

The roots of Old Town Hall go back to 1338, when the town councilors bought an existing building on the square and converted it to civic use. The tower was completed in 1364. Expansion and modification of the Old Town Hall continued over the centuries.

The Astronomical Clock, also called the Orloj, was first built in 1410, redesigned in 1490 and again in 1552–72.

The clock had fallen into disrepair in the 18th century and underwent a large renovation in 1797–91, and the rotating Apostles were added around this time. Another repair took place in 1865–61, and the sound of the rooster was added. The clock was also made more accurate. More repairs took place in 1912,

The clock was damaged by fire in 1945, and repairs took until 1948. The figures of Apostles had to be replaced with new ones. At that time the colored background for the clock was replaced but with errors in the design. The errors were fixed in 1979. Further repairs took place 1984–86. There was a minor repair in 2005 to some of the lower statues.

The Orloj is the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating. The astronomical dial is a type of mechanical astrolabe, showing the positions of the sun, moon and planets relative to the zodiac constellations. It also shows common civil time, Old Czech Time and Babylonian time. A ring on the bottom rotates once a year and indicates the name of a different saint for each day.

A wing of the Old Town Hall burned down at the end of World War II as well. The wing has not been replaced and is now filled with grass and benches as well as merchants' stalls. Several efforts have been made to replicate the building or make a new one, but so far nothing has happened due to strong public opposition to tampering with the square.

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