Hidden message found in Prague's Astronomical Clock

The sculptor who made repairs in 1948 left behind some opinions about the project

A secret message has been found inside one of the statues of the Astronomical Clock.

The clock on the front of Old Town Square has been undergoing repairs since January. Aside from the clock itself, the sculpted figures are being restored.

One of the statues of the Apostles weighed more than the others. The Apostles all rotate past two doorways every hour in the daytime. St. Thomas was X-rayed, and there was a metal case with a message from the past inside.

The restorers managed to get the case out and open it to find a message from the sculptor Vojtěch Sucharda, who re-created the sculptures that were destroyed at the end of World War II during the Prague Uprising.

His message describes his more extensive plans for the Astronomical Clock, which where not carried out. He complains about the conditions at that time, the start of the communist era. Nevertheless, he praises the beauty of the Astronomical Clock and its historical value.

The note was hidden for about 70 years, as the clock was rebuilt in 1948. “Just when we think that we know everything about a monument, such as Old Town Hall, we can be surprised by a new finding. The reconstruction gave us the 70-year old message from Mr. Sucharda, who was commissioned to create new wooden sculptures of the Apostles and other figures in the post-war period,” City Councilor. Jan Wolf said.

The message is not the only discovery. The restorers have also found stone creatures and other elements in the corners under the calendar behind the some timbers, and it was not easy to get to them. After careful dismantling the masonry, a part of the column with a sculpted dog's head facing the viewer was discovered. The head of a predator and an owl standing above it was also found. It is not certain which period they come from, but possibly they were created at the beginning of the 15th century.

“I was very pleased with the discovery of stone statues of animals, the origin of which could be the first stage of ornamentation at the beginning of the 15th century. It is exciting that there is still something to discover and extend our historical knowledge. Who knows what else we're going to discover,” Wolf said.

Restorers have also speculated about a possible secret room n the Old Town Hall. But it turned out to be untrue.

The reconstruction of the clock should end in October this year, in time for the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.

Currently, an LED screen is replacing the clock so tourists can see what it looked like.

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

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 in the final days of the war, and repairs took until 1948. This is when the figures of the Apostles were replaced with new ones.

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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