Three apostles being removed from Prague’s Astronomical Clock

St. Thomas, St. Matthew and Judas Thaddeus

The statues of three of the apostles gracing Prague’s famous Old Town Clock, which were damaged by vandals last June, are being dismantled and taken away for restoration. The clock dating back to 1410, which is admired by millions of tourists every year, will remain in operation despite the absence of three key figures.

Old Town Square astronomical clock | Photo: Kristýna Maková,  Radio Prague International

It is a sight that tourists in Prague crowd to see. On the hour, every hour, the clock strikes the time and a parade of twelve apostles is set in motion. Simultaneously, some of the surrounding sculptures also start moving. There is a figure representing Vanity, a Miser holding a bag of gold coins and a Turk representing Lust and Earthy pleasures.  Across from them stands Death, tolling its bell to show the figures that their time is up. The Astronomer, the Philosopher, and the Chronicler, appear to be motionless.

Legend has it that the city will suffer if the clock is neglected or stops; and the city hall takes good care of it.

Several of these figures damaged during WWII were replaced in 1948 and the clock was fully restored for Czechoslovakia’s 100th anniversary in 2018.

Photo: Michal Kamaryt,  ČTK

Last year a vandal broke the glass door separating the room with the apostles from the chapel and damaged the statues of St. Philip, St. Thomas and Judas Thaddeus. The repair work on them is expected to take two to three weeks.

Photo: Michal Kamaryt,  ČTK

Prague’s Old Town Clock is the world's third-oldest astronomical clock and the oldest in operation today. It was long believed that the astronomical clock dates back to 1490. However, thanks to the discovery of old documents, it was ascertained that the earliest mention of the Astronomical Clock dates back to 9 October, 1410.

Individual features were added in later years. The lower calendar dial was put in place around 1490, together with the Gothic statues. At some time in the late 1600s, probably between 1629 and 1659, the wooden statues were installed. The statues of the apostles were added between 1787 and 1791. The iconic golden crowing rooster appeared in 1865.