The legend of the clock of Prague Town Hall
Such is the beauty of the astronomical clock that an interesting legend revolves around the person who created it. According to the Czech writer Alois Jirásek, it is said that Prague’s town councillors blinded the master clockmaker, known as Hanus, who rebuilt the original clock in 1490 and made the sophisticated mechanism of Prague’s clock tower. Why? So that he wouldn’t be able to create such a beautiful clock again. Nevertheless, the master’s assistant, Jakub Cech, took revenge for the affront by putting his hand into the mechanism, disabling the clock. He mustn’t have minded being left one-handed.
Incidences in the life of Prague’s medieval clock
As you would expect, over the course of 600 years, the Astronomical Clock has undergone various incidences, some of them very significant. The clock stopped unexpectedly on several occasions starting in 1552 and, as a result, had to undergo thorough repairs and maintenance. In the seventeenth century, the astronomical dial’s moving effigies were incorporated, and the figures of the apostles were added during work that took place in 1865.
It was in the middle of the twentieth century, however, when the Astronomical Clock suffered its worst nightmare. On 7 and 8 May, 1945, shortly before the Germans lost the Second World War, German soldiers, realising their defeat, stormed Prague’s Old Town and set fire to the Town Hall and various residential buildings, practically destroying the clock and the wooden figures of the apostles. As a result, the clock had to undergo extensive restoration and was finally unveiled in 1948.