05 June 2011

The Wonders of Horní Náměstí

There are a lot of interesting things in Olomoac's main square, but two objects get the majority of the attention. Dominating the horní náměstí, or upper square, the Holy Trinity Column is the largest Baroque sculpture in central Europe and has become the symbol of this sleepy town. Erected between 1716 and 1754, it was built entirely by local craftsmen and features sculptures of eighteen Olomouc saints. There's a little chapel inside, even, big enough for four or five people to stand in.
Nearby, an elaborate, heliocentric astronomical clock occupies a nook in the side of the town hall. Built in 1420, it chimes out strange jingles on the hour and shows the phases of the moon and the progression of the sun and stars. At noon, the figures in the top recesses revolve and pound out the notes of the bell on a little anvil. There's a crowd at twelve o'clock, but it's probably not as interesting as people expect it to be.
The saints that used to populate the scene were replaced in the wake of WWII, when retreating Nazi soldiers destroyed much of the clock's face. Now, communist era volleyball players and workers represent diligence and the strength of the fatherland. I have absolutely no idea about the chicken.
In the nearby Archdiocesan Museum, a painting depicting the arrival in town of cardinal Ferdinand Troyer in a grand procession. The whole scene takes up a fifteen foot long chunk of wall, but this portion includes the cardinal's coach, the clock and the pillar in very stylized fashion.

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