How many bells has St. Vitus Cathedral?

Have you ever wondered how many bells ring at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague?



There are 7 bells on the Cathedral. But they've only been in full working order for last 9 years.

After nearly 100 years, all seven bells rang together on 12th May 2012.

In the middle of World War I, the military seized three bells – Dominic, Mary and Jesus, as a common policy to use their metal during wartime in the manufacturing of guns. The bell that survived the war is the largest bell, Zikmund, cast by Tomáš Jaroš in 1549, weighs around 16 tons and is tuned to the G key. Upstairs is the Josef bell, originally a death knell from 1602, tuned to the C2 key, which is the smallest. It weighs only 160 kg. Other bells Jan Křtitel from 1546 weighs 3,640 kg and is tuned to the key Dis 1 and Václav from 1542 weighs 4,480 kg and is tuned to the key C1.

The three bells named after their predecessors, Dominik, Maria and Jesus, were recast and refixed with other bells at the Cathedral’s bell tower in 2012.



Several legends speaks about the bells. One legend says that when the emperor Charles IV died, all the bells at the tower started to ring by themselves. At first people could hear the toll of funeral bells, finally all the bells in Prague followed.

Bell Zikmund has another interesting legend. According to this legend, if the heart of the bell breaks, something very bad will happen in the country. It happened for the last time in 2002, just a few weeks before the catastrophic floods in the Czech Republic.

In St. Vitus Cathedral there are basically two types of bell ringing. One is the ordinary, regular bell ringing, and the other is the bell ringing on special ocassions. Both bell ringings have a common feature, namely the scheduled length of the ringing, which in most cases has historically been fixed at 15 minutes.

The regular bell ringing is always on Sundays before Mass and the same day at noon. Both ringing have a definite predetermined course and it should be noted that, especially according to the noon ringing, it is possible to adjust the clock. The bell ringers practically always keep the precision of the opening chime to plus or minus 3 seconds. The Zikmund bell is never rung during regular bell ringing. It is added on some special occasions and particularly important holidays. The number of all bells rung in a calendar year is around 130.

Previously, the noon bell was rung when the shadow of the Marian column in Old Town Square covered the meridian engraved in the pavement of the square. Then a flag was flown from the tower of the Old Town Hall to the astronomical tower of the Clementinum. From there, a wave could also be seen to the bell tower so that the bell ringers could start ringing at noon.


Interesting fact:

  • The biggest bell in the country is Zikmund. 6 bell-ringers are necessary to swing the bell into motion - 4 to swing the bell, 2 to manipulate the clapper.
  • The bell's brass flakes off every time the heart of the bell is struck, weakening the bell. That's why it has to be turned once every 150 years or it will crack.
  • When ringing the bell, the power doesn't matter. You have to get in touch with the bell. Petite woman can ring better than an untalented strong man.
  • The volume of the Zikmund bell at full strike is 120 decibels. That's a noise comparable to a fighter jet taking off.
  • The Zikmund bell is used only on selected holidays and special occasions.

Do you want to hear more? Let's take this tour an enjoy the interiors of Prague castle with delicious lunch!

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