Zygmunt (bell)

Zygmunt (bell)

"Zygmunt" ("Sigismund" in Latin), named after King Sigismund (Zygmunt) I the Old, is a bell that hangs inside Zygmunt's Tower at Wawel Cathedral in Kraków, Poland. It was cast in 1520 by Hans Beham (also known as Johann Behem, or Johannes Bohemus in Latin) from metal melted from the weapons of soldiers defeated by Polish forces. The bell is rung only on the most important occasions, such as the election of a new pope, the outbreak of war, or the conclusion of war. As of 2006, the most recent time was on the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in Kraków (May 2006). To ring the bell requires 8-12 men.

When the "Sigismund" bell was to be made in honour of the Polish king Sigismund I the Old, Kraków’s decision makers turned to the Nuremberg caster Hans Beham in 1520. The city of Nuremberg was known at the time as one of the most important art centers with casters uniquely qualified for this task. Beham followed the call to Kraków and created a foundry in the proximity of the city center, beside Florian gate, in a building which exists to this day. Beham cast the bell there.

The bell's diameter is 2.424 m and the total weight is 10,980 kg. The letters of the signature (5,3 cm in height and 32 cm in length) showed the date "MDXX." Next to it was the relief of king Sigismund, with two coats of arms to his sides, one of Poland and one of Lithuania with both nations closely connected at that time. On the opposite side of the bell was a similar relief with the figure of St. Stanislaus. The name of the bell caster was cast under both reliefs. Under the relief of Sigismund stands the signature HANS BEHAM VON NUREMBERG; and under Stanislaus, the Latin signature JOHANNES BOHEMUS DES NUREMBERGENSIS with the casting mark of Hans Beham in the center. The bell is said to possess special radiance and a number of legends are associated with it. Even after having been repaired in 2000 it is rung very rarely. [http://www.guss-im-wandel-der-zeit.de/GWZ01-2002/GWZ02-1-0398.htm] __NOTOC__



ee also

* Jagiellon dynasty
* Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
* Culture of Kraków


* [http://www.krakow.pl/en/miasto/abc/?id=06.html "Bells of the Wawel Cathedral" at the Official site of the Krakow municipality]
* [http://www.ilovepoland.co.uk/Wawel_castle_and_cathedral_in_Krakow.htm Sigismund Bell known as Zygmunt at "I Love Poland" (incl. opening hours)]

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