High Noon in Prague's
Old Town Square
Story and photos by Tom Weber
My band of merry media and I a cadre
of journalists, bloggers, social media experts and photographers invited
along by Insight Vacations (Insight) to sample a portion of its Bohemian
Rhapsody journey through Prague, Vienna and Budapest are
literally on the clock as we pound the cobble of historic Praha as fast
as we can in order to get underneath a real timepiece.
What's the rush?
Well, we only have a handful of minutes
to hustle over to Staroměstské Náměstí (Old Town Square) and join the
masses already poised just below Pražský Orloj (Prague Clock), the world's
oldest, fully-operational astronomical clock, before it reawakens and
announces high noon.
Whew! We made it with time to spare, about
Located equidistant from Wenceslas Square
and Charles Bridge, Old Town Square has a "school's out" atmosphere
and features a cornucopia of architectural styles, like the Gothic Týn
Church and the Baroque St. Nicholas Church.
Here, in one of Europe's most beautiful
squares, there's plenty to do.
You can spend quality time at the Czech
National Gallery inside Kinský Palace. Gaze up at the statue
of Jan Hus, a religious reformer who was burned at the stake. Or, count
out the crosses etched in the square's pavement, 27 in all recognizing
those brave Bohemians beheaded by the ax following the Battle of White
Mountain in 1620 against the Holy Roman Empire during the bloody Thirty
If the history's a bit heavy to your liking,
Old Town Square offers lighter fair, too, with its many impromptu street
performers and musicians, not to mention all of the open-air cafes and
restaurants just waiting to show you to your table.
But the main attraction, the one that draws
the crowds at the top of the hour each and every day, is the 600+ year-old
Prague Clock and its fascinating mechanical performance.
It's the third oldest astronomical clock
in the world and the oldest of its type that's still fully operational
Considered one of of the wonders of the
world during the Middle Ages, the Prague Clock was mounted on the southern
wall of Old City Hall way back in 1410.
The clock mechanism itself is composed
of three main parts.
There's the Astronomical Dial, indicating
the position in the sky of the sun and the moon. The "Walk of the
Apostles," a parade of the dozen disciples and other moving sculptures,
including Death, represented by a skeleton, as the medieval timepiece
strikes the new hour. And, the Calendar Dial with its medallions noting
the months of the year.
According to local legend, the capital
city of the Czech Republic will suffer great harm if the Prague Clock
is ever neglected and its hourly wakeup calls placed in jeopardy. I
really don't see that ever happening, because, like a modern-day Timex
watch, this old gal has taken a licking, but keeps on ticking.
For complete information on Insight Vacations'
premium and luxury-escorted itineraries, including the Bohemian Rhapsody
and 100 other journeys throughout Europe, just click HERE,
or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
Let's break for lunch and then we'll meet
back here under the clock as Jaroslav, Insight's local expert, leads
us through one of the darkest chapters in Prague history as we take
a walk around the Jewish Ghetto.
Rhapsody: Glassblowing 101; Bohemian
Rhapsody: Crossing the Charles Bridge; Bohemian
Rhapsody: Storming the Prague Castle; Bohemian
Rhapsody: Na Zdraví! (A Brewery and A Wine Cellar); Bohemian
Rhapsody: Dobrý Den!; Czeching
Out A Bohemian Rhapsody; The
Czech Republic A Little Jewel, Part 2