This beautiful astronomical clock in Prague’s Staré Mesto—Old Town—dates from 1410. The faces and markings tell the time, the day, the season, the equinox, the phase of the moon, and various Christian holidays. Tourists gather to wait for the clock to strike the hour, whereupon the 12 apostles glide out and a skeleton, depicting Death, dances with figures depicting various evils.
Legend has it that when the clock was remodeled at the end of the 15th century, the artisan clockmaker, Master Hanus, was blinded by the municipal council so that he couldn’t repeat his work in any other city. In retribution, he threw himself into the inner workings of the clock and died, and the clock remained off time for a century.
When I heard this, I was reminded of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow, which was built on the order of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century. The story goes that the architect was blinded, upon Ivan’s orders, to prevent him from building anything comparable.