Friday, April 16, 2010

Olomouc Astronomical Clock

The Olomouc astronomical clock can be found in a recess at the northern wall of the town hall building on Horní náměstí (Upper Square). It dates back to the early 1400’s. However, it was so damaged in 1945, during WWII, that rather than reconstructing the original, the town representatives replaced it with a contemporary one in the 1950's.

The mosaics on the each side illustrate the twelve months. However, in good socialist realist style, the religious and royal figures were replaced with factory workers, farmers, athletes, scientists, mothers, and other proletariats. The glockenspiel was also altered to play three pieces of local, traditional music.

The lower dial represents the earthly sphere and indicates minute, hour, day, month, year and phase of the moon. The upper dial represents the heavenly sphere and shows a star map, the sun, earth, and the five planets known at the time, against a background of the twelve houses of the zodiac. This clock was even Y2K compliant because it is capable of displaying the year as "9999".

The green wheel shows the names of 365 patron saints. In the ČR, you celebrate both your birthday and your name day. So if your name is Tomáš then you celebrate St. Thomas' Day. My name day falls on September 18th for St. Kryštof.
This wheel also has red highlights spliced in for communist observances such as Lenin's birthday and the deaths of Stalin and Gottwald.
Get this...Klement Gottwald was the first communist president of Czechoslovakia. He died in 1953, just two weeks after Stalin died. He underestimated Moscow's weather, caught a chill at Stalin's funeral, and was buried two weeks later.
Here's a video of the clock I found out on YouTube.

©Rick Steves
After Czechoslovakia's communist government fell, most of the nation's socialist monuments were replaced. Luckily, the Olomouc clock is still around.

Update:  Siren tests take place differently in Olomouc due to the clock.

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