A visit to the Czech capital isn’t complete without a trip to the Astronomical Clock. This marvel is not only an incredible architectural phenomenon that is located in one of the busiest squares and areas of the city, but it has historical significance that make it stand out on the list of any tourists’ travel plans.
So, what is the best way to visit the infamous Clock? Do you just walk right up and try to snag a selfie amongst the crowd? We tell you the best way to visit the Prague Astronomical Clock, including little tricks and tips that will make your experience easier, quicker, and more rewarding than if you did it on your own.
What is the Astronomical Clock?
You have read about visiting the Clock in every single tourist book and off the cuff recommendation as you are walking the cobblestone streets of Prague, and they ALL say to visit the massive timepiece. But – what really is it?
The Clock is a medieval astronomical clock that is located right on the Old Town Hall in Old Town Square. Old Town Hall is one of the most visited monuments, standing as a huge tower that rises above the bustling Old Town Square, a historic square located between Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge.
This clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest in the entire world – and the oldest one that is still working today. The clock’s parts contain three major components – the dial, representing the Sun and the Moon in the sky, statues of various Catholic saints, and the Walk of Apostles, which is the hourly show that moves figures and other decorations as the clock chimes on the hour.
Everyone loves a little folklore, right? Well, the Astronomical Clock was apparently built by a skilled craftsman in the city, Mr. Hanus. Legend has it that he was so skilled at building the clock that he was blinded after the final creation – so that he couldn’t replicate its beauty anywhere else in the world!
During the 18th century, the Procession of Apostles, or the Walk of Apostles, was added each time the clock strikes. Unfortunately for the beloved historical creation, the 19th-century fire all but decimated huge parts of the clock – but the dedicated citizens raised restoration funds to repair the clock during this tragedy, and after World War II.
Whether you believe the story or not, this clock is something to see – we’ll tell you how.
How to visit the clock
When deciding when and how to visit this tourist attraction, there are certain pieces of info to keep in mind and practical bits that can help you have a seamless trip to the clock – so you can avoid battling back hundreds of other tourists.
Opening Hours – When To Go
Fortunately for those who like to travel in the off-season, the clock is open all year. The hours for the historical interior are open from 11 AM to 7 PM on Monday, and 9 AM to 7 PM from Tuesday to Sunday. The Tower hours are similar, with the opening times on Monday being from 11 AM to 10 PM and 9 AM to 10 PM from Tuesday to Sunday.
If you decide to go on the earlier side of the day, the price for entry from 9 AM to 10 AM is discounted 50% except for Monday.
Since the clock is mentioned in every single guide to Prague and is such a prevalent tourist attraction all-year-round, when is the best time to go see it? Hopefully, you have some strong coffee, because if you want to get to this attraction without any other people or crowds you will need to arrive at sunrise or just before.
Even then, during the peak summer months for tourists yo might show up at 5 AM and have other like-minded people there as well.
If you decide to go very early in the day, you might even stumble upon people who are coming home from the night before – or rather they might stumble into you. There are also plenty of people who want to capture the clock for special events, like wedding photographs, couple shoots, or even in their own home-made videos, so you could catch some interesting cinematography if you go early enough.
If you are going to the clock to see the Procession of the Twelve Apostles, you, unfortunately, can’t try this less-crowded tactic. This procession only happens between the hours of 9 AM to 11 PM – and lasts less than a minute, so don’t blink.
Budget traveler? Say no more, we know how you feel. Even spending a few euros on a coffee can seem like you won’t have any money left over for a place to stay that night. Fortunately for you, the prices to the tower are fairly cheap – all considering.
The price of a basic ticket, for a regular adult, is 250 CZK, which comes to around $11. The price for a reduced ticket is 150 CZK or around $7, while the family ticket is 500 CZK or $22.
Where To Visit
When viewing the clock or the hourly show, many tourists stay outside of the town hall and glimpse the spectacle from the outside looking in. However, if you want to get the best view, you should head inside of the Old Town Hall and go to the tower’s chapel – arguably the best angle for the entertainment.
The other parts of the Old Town Hall that you can explore with your purchased ticket are the historical halls, the Gothic chapel with the best view of the Apostles, the Gothic tower with a view height of 41 meters, and the Old Town Hall Roman-Gothic underground for those who like dark corridors, creepy hallways, and a sense of an eerie past.
Tours of the Hall
If you want to get a little more background info and brush up on your history knowledge, then taking an evening tour of the Old Town Hall could be the way to go. Every Friday evening at 8 PM, there are English language tours that can last 2 hours, taking you through the history of this prevalent building.
As you can see, there are numerous ways for you to visit the famous Astronomical Clock. If you re an early bird, you can catch the worm by checking out sunrise and listening to the clock strike 5. If you prefer to watch the hourly Apostles, then you might have to suffer the crowds. And if you enjoy taking a tour of the Old Town Hall while checking out the local nightlife in the Old Town Square, the tour could be the best choice for you.