Prague, Czech Republic: Old Town Square, Týn Church, Orloj Astronomical Clock

These shots are taken in the Old Town Square. The most prominent features are the Church of Our Lady Before Týn, and the Prague Orloj Medieval Astronomical Clock.

Feature Image Details

ISO 125 at F10 for 1/160 seconds. I used a  Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at a focal length of 35 MM.

We were on our way to dinner one evening and a huge storm was blowing in. A hole in the clouds opened up and beautifully lit the Týn Church. With all the people milling about it was hard to get a shot. I held my camera as far over my head as I could reach, then snapped two frames.

We have 3-foot by 2-foot aluminum image of this scene on our wall at home. It reminds me of the Harry Potter “Hogwarts” clock tower and courtyard.

Old Town Square at Blue Hour

On the north side of the Old Town Square is the Baroque Church of St Nicholas, built in 1735 to replace earlier medieval churches from 12th and 14th centuries.

Baroque Church of St Nicholas at Blue Hour

Prague Orloj

The Orloj is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism itself has three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; statues of various Catholic saints stand on either side of the clock; “The Walk of the Apostles”, a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. According to local legend, the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and its good operation is placed in jeopardy; a ghost, mounted on the clock, was supposed to nod its head in confirmation. According to the legend, the only hope was represented by a boy born on New Year’s night.

The oldest part of the Orloj, the mechanical clock and astronomical dial, dates back to 1410 when it was made by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel, then later a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Charles University. The first recorded mention of the clock was on 9 October 1410. Later, presumably around 1490, the calendar dial was added and the clock facade was decorated with gothic sculptures.

Blue Hour Discussion

Fifteen minutes to a half hour after sunset, the sky, city lights, and the ambient light all roughly balance. This ideal light lasts for cityscapes lasts 15 minutes to 20 minutes.

There is a blue hour before sunrise as well. The blue hour is roughly an hour before sunrise.

The blue hour itself, where the sky is an intense blue may last 45 minutes to an hour, but you will not have that must time to create a blur hour cityscape.

You need a tripod or a stable object on which to place your camera to take blue hour images.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Prague Posts

  1. Prague, Czech Republic: Charles Bridge and Prague Castle at “Blue Hour”
  2. Prague, Czech Republic: Subway Tunnel Near Charles Bridge

Coming up next: More Prague images.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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