Brno Astronomical Clock
Public Art: Astronomical Clock
Also Known As: The Giant vibrator, Brnensky
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.
Cost : $12 million CZK ( approximately $480,000
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
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
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.