Once Ridiculed, the “Brno Astronomical Clock” Eventually Became the Symbol of the City

Miroslav Homola

Few inventions or works of art can boast of becoming a city’s symbol. Though initially met with criticism and ridicule, the Brno Astronomical Clock has rightfully earned this prestigious title. Thirteen years after its grand unveiling at Brno’s Svobody Square, it still shines as a beacon in the night, reminding us that even the staunchest skeptics can be surprised.

Officially, the Brno Astronomical Clock is a multifunctional timekeeping device, but it is much more than a mere timepiece for the locals and visitors. When it first appeared in Brno on September 18, 2010, it sparked controversy and various reactions. Many ridiculed it and gave it derogatory nicknames, but over time, it has become a symbol of Brno, capturing the attention of all who pass by.

Its most distinctive feature is the dropping of glass spheres symbolizing hours, the bells ringing at eleven, and many other historical references. Waiting for one of these spheres to fall has become a traditional ritual for visitors to Brno. And it’s not an easy task; the spheres drop from various unpredictable openings, with over ten thousand spheres falling thus far.

Michael Benža from the Technical Networks of Brno, which operates the clock, says, “This sphere has become a traditional symbol of the city. There is still a tremendous interest in it. It is virtually impossible for someone not to stand at one of the four openings at eleven in the morning and watch the sphere fall.”

The Clock, however, doesn’t just operate at eleven, which refers to the famous legend of the Brno bells. During various historical events and anniversaries, and even during Advent, visitors can expect a sphere to drop every hour from one to twenty-four. These special events are accompanied by spheres adorned with unique ornaments.

Changing the mode of “sphere dropping” during various events brings joy and liveliness to the city. The symbols on the spheres and their number are a surprise and add a unique charm to Brno.

The Brno Astronomical Clock has become what many did not anticipate – a unique symbol of the city, uniting history, tradition, and the endless curiosity of visitors. It proves that even critics can be mistaken and that innovation and tradition can beautifully coexist, no matter what time.