One of Prague’s most visited and iconic attractions has closed for half a year, allowing for experts to dismantle and repair the ancient timepiece.
By the end of the summer, barring any delays, the Astronomical clock should be back in action after planned repairs take place to change some of the aging parts and make necessary repairs. Although minor repairs have taken place sporadically over the years, this will mark the first time that the clock has been taken apart since the Second World War.
“We will remove the unsuitable 1948 electric chain drive and we will return the old cable drums, the gear wheels that were in the depository, and we will power the astronomical clock again, as it was originally powered. It means stone weights over hemp ropes wound on wooden cable drums” – Petr Skala
The restoration will also concentrate on bringing back the original meaning of the astronomical statues, which represent the three worst human sins and the three most beautiful human qualities.
“Those were those allegories of pride, covetousness, envy, and bottom of compassion, generosity and modesty. This is the work of Vojtěch Sucharda, who gave them the attributes, such as a telescope, a book and a lute, because he did not understand their original meaning” said Skála.
Regular visitors to the clock might have noticed that the reconstruction of the Old Town Hall, situated just behind, started last April, meaning the whole site will be completely restored to its original look and feel over the course of this year.
The monument has been repaired many times over the past years. The Astronomical Clock stopped in 2011, when the experts repaired and cleaned its interior and solved a few defects in the mechanism of the machine.
The astronomical clock was made by Nicholas of Kadan at the beginning of the 15th century, later perfected by master Hanuš z Růže. Numerous legends and secrets are linked to the clock, for example, it is not clear when exactly statues of apostles appeared on it, showing each hour in two windows under the roof.
In its history, the astronomical clock has experienced glory, but also disasters. In 2002, it was unexpectedly stopped by a fault on the transformer because of the massive flooding that swept through the capital. Nine years later, December 23, the clock stopped for five minutes, planned to commemorate the memory of the late President Vaclav Havel.