Astronomical clocks represent the first real effort at organizing communities around the 24-hour clock, centuries before the Industrial Revolution. There are two clocks that survive in the Czech Republic, both popular tourist attractions, but only one is Communist.
Located in the northern facade of the town hall, the Olomouc Astronomical Clock was originally built between 1419-1422. For five-hundred years religious and royal automata came out on the hour until May of 1945 when German troops opened fire, destroying the town’s prized clock. It sat in ruins before artist Karel Svolinsky and his wife Maria reconstructed and remodeled the clock in the then popular Social-Realism style. At noon, tiny blacksmiths ring a set of bells in tunes based on local folk music while the “Good Communist” figures rotate. As expected, there are huge mosaics and automata of factory workers and laborers. Yet religion was not completely struck from the clock as you can still see the white lines marking feast days, like St Martin’s Day on November 11th. The red lines commemorate significant dates in the communist calendar, such as the birthdays of Lenin and Stalin. The dial also turns to display the International Day of the Worker. There are less than a dozen Astronomical Clocks across Europe, but this is the only one that’s Communist, making it a rare sight indeed.