In Prague, in the Old Quarter, on the Staroměstka radnice (Old Town Hall), is a clock of a different stroke. It has two clock faces and is the center of admiration when the hour strikes. People gather to watch the clocks shift into gear. Death tips his hourglass and pulls a chord to ring the bell. A window opens and the Twelve Apostles march out. A rooster crows, the hour rings and the immediate show is over.
This is an Astronomical Clock. It is one of Prague’s treasures. Built in 1410, it works on a Medieval concept of time. Perhaps, I should say times. There is the clock face running on Bohemian time with its gold Gothic numbers emblazoned against a black backdrop. It provides sunset and sunrise time with the arching lines and traveling spheres. The big hand is a golden sun. The little hand is a moon that spins slowly in circles to the different stages. Beside this face, the Modern Clock is quite dowdy. It only has 24 numeral numbers. The XII at top indicating noon; the XII at the clock’s bottom is midnight. To further enliven the somewhat cluttered timepieces, there are four statues symbolizing vices – Hedonism, Greed and Vanity and the passage of time - Death.
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