Brno Astronomical Clock

Brno Astronomical Clock, Oldrich Rujbr,Petr Kamenik , Brno, Czech Republic,

Public Art: Astronomical Clock

Also Known As: The Giant vibrator, Brnensky orloj,

Sculptors: © Oldrich Rujbr and Petr Kamenik

Description: A shiny black granite 6m bullet shaped obelisk . At 11am every day a glass marble, with the Brno's coat of arms printed on it,  is released from one of four openings and any one fast enough to grab it can take it home as a souvenir. Be warned there is strong competition. If you fail to grab it , the ball disappears back into the clock.

Date: 2010

Cost : $12 million CZK ( approximately $480,000 US)

Location: The Brnensky orloj is located at Namesti Svobody (Freedom Square), Brno, Czech Republic.

Acknowledgements: A special thank you to Silvie Bee for kindly providing the photographs.

Controversy: There have been two major complaints about the clock since its unveiling. The first is that you can't tell the time from it. When it was unveiled one unimpressed observer said "I think it is really foolish. Can you tell what the time is? You see? You don't know and you have to look at the church clock over there. You can't tell the time from the new clock. For 12 million crowns, they could have done something better."

The other, more sensitive issue, relates to its shape. Many have claimed that it's phallic shape makes it look like a giant sex toy. One critic called it "the country's most expensive penis."

Artist's Statement: "Look here, it has the shape of an obelisk which has provoked people for thousands of years. Everyone can see in it what they want, it's great that people talk about it because it is up to them."

"The clock is in a place where time has a different pace. You need exact time at a train station and places like that. But in the city's historical centre where people may want to stop and talk or just hang around the square, I think time should be measured differently."

Background: The inspiration behind the Astronomical Clock was a famous event that occurred during the Thirty Years' War. In 1645 the Swedish Army laid seige to Brno for nearly 3 months.  Brno was by then the only Moravian city to have successfully defended itself from the Swedes. With the locals and Swedish army locked in a stalemate, the frustrated Swedish general declared if the city wasn't claimed by noon he would withdraw his troops. So the city's quick thinking bellringer tricked the general by ringing the bell an hour early, at 11am. The general, true to his word, withdrew his army and left. The Astronomical Clock and the Petrov Cathedral have continued the tradition by always ringing its bells at 11am instead of midday. 

Trivia: Though known as an astronomical clock it is simply a clock.

Following the unveiling, no one was quick enough to claim the first ever ball that came out of the obelisk and it went back inside the clock.

Reference : Radio Praha , 24-09-2010, Brno's new clock provokes colourful reactions, Jan Ritcher. 

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