The Orloj goes to Brussels


Prague's famous Orloj -or Astronomical clock - attracts millions of tourists every year. Soon Prague will not be the only place where you can admire it. This spring a perfect copy of the Orloj will be rubbing shoulders with the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben in Brussels.

On the hour, every hour, Prague's Old Town Square fills with tourists waiting to see a sight that dates back to the 15th century. In two small windows a procession of apostles goes by preceded by a skeleton -the symbol of death - who tolls a bell and raises an hour glass, as a rooster shakes its wings and crows above them. Legend has it that back in the fifteenth the century the clock's maintenance engineer was blinded on the orders of the municipal authorities who wanted to make sure that no other city could reproduce Prague's impressive Astronomical clock. Now, the famous Orloj has been chosen to represent the Czech Republic in Brussels in the Mini Europe Park which boasts European gems such as the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben. The Orloj model is 25 times smaller than the original, but otherwise a perfect computer-operated copy that allegedly works "like clockwork". Although this is probably the most ambitious project of transferring a Prague gem to Brussels, there's been a growing Czech presence in Brussels ever since the Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004. Libor Roucek is a European Parliament deputy:

"I think that the public here is more and more aware that there is a new country in the EU - the Czech Republic - and that the country is quite successful - both economic-wise and in its overall development. There are more and more Czech exhibitions in Brussels and an increased presence of our people in EU institutions, in the European Parliament and the European Commission. Another thing is that we can also see more and more Czech goods in Brussels. There are restaurants where you can get Pilsner beer, you can see more Czech cars on the streets these days- I think that our presence here is increasing."

Right now the Little Orloj -the latest Czech envoy to Belgium -is still packed up in boxes in Brussels. The head of the Prague House in Brussels says it will come out as soon as the weather improves - i.e. end of March/ beginning of April. And there will be a big open-air party to celebrate its unveiling. So if you are in Brussels round about then keep an eye out for it.