Some clocks return to Old Town Hall Tower

The clocks near the tower’s top have been restored to their Baroque look

The Old Town Hall Tower at least has some of its clocks back. As of noon on March 9 the clocks near the top of the tower have been reinstalled. Their dials look different from those seen in recent decades. They have been restored to the original Baroque designs of 1787.

The main Astronomical Clock on the lower level, though, is still being renovated and will be missing until October.

The upper clocks were made after World War II to replace the ones destroyed by fire on the last day of the war. The clocks lasted until June 26, 2017, when they were dismantled as part of the tower’s extensive ongoing renovation.

The city wants to return the tower to its pre-war appearance as much as possible. Photographs show the original dials from 1787. The hands and Roman numerals are gilded with 24k gold, the face plates are matte black.

“The Old Town Hall, with the original form of the clocks on the tower, has regained a remarkable part of its old beauty, and in today's modern times it also has an interesting authenticity,” Prague City Councilor Jan Wolf said on the City Hall website.

Clock restorer Petr Skála pointed out some of the differences. “The Baroque form differs from the appearance of the modern face not only by gilding but also by means of an [inner] minute dial, marked in quarters I, II, III and IIII, within the hourly dial I–XII dial. The minute hand circulates around this inner dial and is, therefore, shorter than the hour hand,” Skála said.

He added that such deals are very clear and more readable from a greater distance because the more important hour hand is larger overall.

Baroque clocks of this type are still on several historical buildings such as churches and chateaux, and the tower of Prague’s Klementinum.

The main part of the repairs to the famed Astrological Clock will last until the scheduled relaunch timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia on Oct. 28, 2018.

Eight wooden sculptures from the lower part of the clock are having their attributes restored.

The lower calendar wheel, which takes a full year to turn, has been removed and is being replaced with a new copy based on the original paintings by Josef Mánes in the Municipal Museum.

The clockwork mechanism for the Astrological Clock is being restored to how it worked in the 1860s. It was replaced with a modern mechanism after World War II.

The first phase of renovations to the Old Town Tower has been completed and the observation level on top has been reopened to the public.

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

The clock 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. More repairs took place in 1912.

The clock was damaged by fire in 1945, and repairs took until 1948. The figures of Apostles also had to be replaced with new ones. At that time the colored background for the Astronomical Clock was replaced but with errors in the design. The errors were fixed in 1979. Further repairs took place 1984–86.

The Orloj, as it is also called, is the third-oldest Astronomical Clock in the world and the oldest one still operating.

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