Today I wanted to tell you a bit about the famous Sigismundus Bell! 🙂
The Sigismundus Bell is the most famous Polish bell, popularly and commonly called Sigismundus’ Bell (so not only the bell’s name is Sigismundus, but it also belongs to Sigismundus – get it? 😉 ). It hangs in the Sigismundus’ Tower in the Wawel’s cathedral in Kraków. In has been founded in the first half of the 16th century by the king Sigismundus I The Old and that is exactly why we call it by his name!
The bell has been made by the bellmaker from Nuremberg – Hans Beham – in his Cracovian workshop in 1520. On the bell he put the pictures of saints (of course he did!) – St. Sigismundus and St. Stanislaw. You can also find there the coats of arms of Poland and Lithuania. It weights 12 and a half tones and every time I think of that, I can’t imagine, how Cracovians managed to pull it up the Wawel hill and install it on the top of the tower without all the today’s technology and machines, but they made it! The bell has been installed on July 9th 1521 and on July 13th 1521 Kraków heard it’s voice for the very first time!
According to the legend repeated by the historians in the old times, the bell has been made from the melted Moldavian cannons taken by the Poles after they won the battle of Obertyn, but the truth is, that battle took place 10 years after the bell was hanged, so you can see for yourself how legends work!
In the 19th century, the heart of the bell fractured 3 times, but each time it was immediately fixed. On the Christmas Eve of the year 2000 a new crack has been discovered and that time, it was decided to exchange the heart of the bell. The original one you can see by the entrance to the Sigismundus’ Tower. There is another legend, that says that if on the way to the tower you touch the heart of the bell, during the coming year you’re going to meet your true love. You know, it’s just a story but you can always try! 😉
Nowadays, Sigismundus rings on the most important religious and national holidays and celebrations and during the events that are important for the city of Kraków. During the whole year, there are approximately 30 ocasions like this! Sigismundus is operated manually, by team of 8 to 12 people. To make it ring, you have to pull the ropes hard! The privilige of ringing THE bell has the group of 35 people in total, among them there is (only!) 1 woman!