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Królewska Katedra na Wawelu p.w. św. Stanisława BM i św. Wacława

Bells of Wawel Cathedral » The Royal Sigismund Bell


This bronze colossus was cast in Cracow in 1520 by a Nuremberg founder, Hans Behem. The bell was hung in one the Wawel Castle’s old defensive towers which was made taller to house the bells. Cracovians had the first opportunity to hear the Sigismund bell ringing for the first time on the 13th of July 1521. The bell was commissioned by King Zygmunt (Sigismund) I the Old, whose idea was that it will “ring not only to the glory of God Most High, but also to the glory of the House of Jagiellons and the Polish Kingdom”. During the times of Poland’s bondage, the Sigismund Bell was one of the most important national symbols.

The upper part of the bell’s body contains a Latin inscription which reads:



Plaque with St Stanislaus – Sigismund Bell (detail)It can be translated into Polish as follows: FOR GOD, THE BEST, THE GREATEST, FOR THE VIRGIN MOTHER OF GOD AND FOR HIS PATRON SAINTS, THE ILLUSTRIOUS KING ZYGMUNT OF POLAND HAD THIS BELL MADE TO BE WORTHY OF THE GREATNESS OF HIS MIND AND DEEDS IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1520. Below are two plaques: one featuring St Stanislaus and another featuring St Sigismund, the King of Burgundy, the latter fully clothed in armour and a cloak with the insignia of his royal power. The plaques are flanked with national emblems of the Commonwealth of Two Nations: the crowned eagle of Poland the coat of arms of Lithuania (Polish: Pogoń, Lithuanian: Vyitis). Below is the name of Behem in Latin and German and his sign (gmerk), as well as the year the bell was manufactured.

Plaque with St Sigismund – Sigismund Bell (detail) Inside the bell’s body hangs a fine Gothic clapper. It is attached to the iron fitting using a belt made of calf leather, which in its thickest part consists of twelve layers of leather. The clapper consists of the part on which the clapper is hung, a shaft and a metal part which strikes on the sound-ring, i.e. the thickest part of the bell’s body. At the end there is the clapper’s drive which gives it the right swinging speed. The clapper of the Sigismund Bell, like a violin string, generates the tone of this fine idiophone. Its sound is F-sharp in the Great Octave. 

It can be said that Sigismund is the king of Polish bells and the ruler of Polish hearts. For half a millennium this instrument has marked important moments in history of the Polish nation and that of Europe. At the time it was made, the Republic of the Jagiellons played the leading role in the politics of the countries in the heart of Europe and influenced an area spreading to the ends of the continent. Later, during the difficult periods of bondage when the occupying powers erased the name of Poland from the map of Europe and consciously destroyed Polish regalia, the Sigismund Bell became one the most important national symbols.


The Sigismund Bell


A. Diameter of body – 242 cm
B. Height of body with crown – 241 cm
C. Full height of bell – 460 cm
D. Spread of the oaken yoke – 309 cm
E. Clapper length – 220 cm


Bronze body – 9,650 kg
Oaken yoke with fittings – 2,160 kg
Clapper with belt – 365 kg
Other parts – 425 kg
Total weight of bell – 12,600 kg


Powered by 12 bell-ringers
Basic tone – F-sharp
Audibility range – 30 km (ca. 186 miles )

Old clapper of the Sigismund Bell

 Old clapper of the Sigismund BellThe first original clapper of the bell, made of iron. It is 218.5 cm (86 in) long and weighs 323 kg (710.6 lbs).
It rang for the first time on the 13 July 1521, on St Margaret’s day.
It worked for 479 years and performed some 12 million strikes.
In the 19th century it broke and was repaired three times.
It rang for the final time on Christmas Day 2000, and it was then that the fourth crack was noticed.
The damaged clapper was replaced with a new one that has been in use since the 14th of April 2001.

When the Sigisumnd Bell rings:


01.01.2010New Year – Mary, Mother of God 09:45
06.01.2010Epiphany of the Lord 16:15
02.02.2010Presentation of the Lord – Our Lady of Candles 16:15
28.03.2010Palm Sunday 09:45
03.04.2010Holy Saturday – Resurrection Mass 18:45
04.04.2010Easter – Lord’s Resurrection 09:45
05.04.2010Easter Monday 09:45
11.04.2010God’s Mercy 09:45
02.05.2010St Sigismund’s Day – the day of the patron of the bell 09:45
03.05.2010Feast of Mary, Queen of Poland, 3rd May Constitution 09:45
08.05.2010St Stanislaus’ Day 17:15
09.05.2010St Stanislaus’ procession 09:00
16.05.2010Ascension of the Lord 09:45
18.05.2010Anniversary of birth of John Paul II 17:15
23.05.2010Pentecost 09:45
03.06.2010Corpus Christi procession 09:00
08.06.2010St Jadwiga’s Day 17:15
29.06.2010SS Peter and Paul’s Day 17:15
15.08.2010Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary – Our Lady of Harvest 09:45
28.09.2010St Wenceslaus’ Day – the day of the patron of the cathedral 17:15
16.10.2010Anniversary of election of Pope John Paul II 16:15
01.11.2010All Saints’ Day 09:45
02.11.2010Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls) 17:15
11.11.2010Poland’s Independence Day 09:45
21.11.2010Feast of Christ the King 09:45
08.12.2010Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary 16:15
24.12.2010Midnight Mass 23:45
25.12.2010Christmas – First Day 09:45
26.12.2010Second Day of Christmas 09:45