The legend of the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town of Prague. The dark tale is set in the fifteenth century, when the clock is said to have been created by the great clockmaker Mikuláš from Kadaň.
Mikulas had such a good reputationfor his craftmanship he was eventually approached by many a foreign nation, each wishing to have its own town square topped with a marvellous astronomical clock.
Overcome with jealously and fear that Mikulas may build another clock which is better than Prague’s, council official’s had the clockmaker blinded to ensure that their clock would never be topped.
However, the clockmaker took the ultimate revenge, throwing himself into his extraordinary work of art, gumming up the clock’s gears and ending his own life in one stroke. In doing so, he cursed the clock. All who tried to fix it would either go insane, or die.
Legend of the skeleton
Numerous legends are also related to the figure of the skeleton which is mounted on the astronomical clock. It was said, that once the Old Town Astronomical Clock stops running for a long time the Czech nation will suffer bad times and the skeleton was supposed to confirm this fact by nodding his head.
Based on the legend, the only hope was represented by a boy born in the New Year´s night. Once the astronomical clock sets in motion again, the boy is supposed to run out of the Týn Church across the whole square to the town hall. He has to run very fast to arrive before the last strike of the clock. If he makes it he will quit the skeleton´s evil power and avert all the evil.
However, in some legends the skeleton was a sign of hope. If you take a careful look you will see two little windows above the astronomical clock. Those used to lead to the jail which was used for imprisoning the aristocrats. One day a knight was imprisoned there waiting for his execution. He was looking out of he window and just when the clock started to strike a sparrow flew along the skeleton. When the skeleton closed his jaws he imprisoned the little bird inside. The sparrow had to wait another hour until the skeleton opened his teeth again to be able to fly away. When the knight saw that he started to believe he would get out of his jail, too. And guess what happened!The people of Prague pardoned him at last. This way the skeleton became the symbol of hope.