The Slovak Astronomical Clock in Stará Bystrica is among the newest and most accurate astronomical clocks in the world. It was completed in 2009 and is considered to be the biggest wooden statue in Slovakia. The composition symbolises the sitting Madonna, Our Lady of Sorrows, the patron saint of Slovakia. The basic design, sculpted in clay, was made by the academic sculptor, Viliam Loviška, and subsequent technical drawings were prepared by the architect, Ivan Jarina.
Six bronze statues of significant figures of Slovak history: Prince Pribina, King Svätopluk, Anton Bernolák, Ľudovít Štúr, Milan Rastislav Štefánik and Andrej Hlinka have been placed in the niches of the astronomical clock. When the clock strikes the hour, between 8 am and 10 pm, one can see the statues of the seven Slovak apostles – St. Cyril, St. Methodius, St. Andrew Zorard, St. Benedict, St. Gorazd, St. Bystrík and St. Vojtech. The portraits of significant Slovak personalities of the 19th and the 20th centuries were superimposed on the faces of the saints. Their identity will be published in the last will of the creators of the astronomical clock, the academic sculptors Viliam Loviška and his wife, but only after their deaths. The heart of the clock is the astrolabe, i.e. a dial that provides astronomical information. Data such as the date, solar time, the position of the Sun in signs of the zodiac, the position of the Moon and lunar phases are displayed. Without an astrolabe, an astronomical clock is not an astronomical clock. Hence the one in Stará Bystrica is the only one in Slovakia.
The dial that indicates Central European time is located on the upper part of the face of the clock above the astrolabe. As it shows the conventional time it is easy to compare it with the information presented on the astrolabe.
The wooden statue of a bell ringer, ringing the bells, is a representation of the night guard of Stará Bystrica, located in the turret of the astronomical clock. One bell strikes the hour, the other creates the background music during the promenade of the apostles. Under the astronomical clock, there is a tourist information centre that includes a small exhibition gallery, a café, and souvenir shop. From there tourists may access the machine room of the astronomical clock. The Slovak astronomical clock is visited by tens of thousands of tourists every year and since it was opened in 2009, it has been among the most frequently visited attractions in North-western Slovakia.
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