Glocken für Frieden und Freiheit

läuten auf der ganzen Welt


Brigitte Parry, who at that time worked for the EUN Schoolnet in Brussels, drew our attention to the fact, that vernal equinox is celebrated as Earth Day worldwide to make people aware of how important it is to take care of our environment and to live in peace with each other. On this day the Peace Bell is rung which was given to the United Nations as a present by Japan in 1954. That made us curious about other bells worldwide, which are symbolizing peace and freedom. 


I would like to add a motto here, taken from a story written by Ivo ANDRIC (Nobel Prize in Literature Laureate 1961). The story is called A Letter from the year 1920. The author writes about the difficult situation in Bosnia created by the multi-ethnicity and the various religious denominations. The Jewish doctor Max Loewenfeld writes about his home town Sarajevo:


Whoever lies awake at night in Sarajevo hears the voices of the Sarajevo night. The clock on the Catholic cathedral strikes the hour with weighty confidence: 2am. More than a minute passes (to be exact, seventy-five seconds - I counted) and only then with a rather weaker, but piercing sound does the Orthodox church announce the hour, and chime its own 2 am. A moment after it the tower clock on the Bey's mosque strikes the hour in a hoarse, faraway voice, and that strikes 11, the ghostly Turkish hour, by the strange calculation of distant and alien parts of the world. The Jews have no clock to sound their hour, so God alone knows what time it is for them by the Sephardic reckoning or the Ashkenazy. Thus at night, while everyone is sleeping, division keeps vigil in the counting of the late, small hours, and separates these sleeping people who, awake, rejoice and mourn, feast and fast by four different and antagonistic calendars, and send all their prayers and wishes to one heaven in four different ecclesiastical languages. And this difference, sometimes visible and open, sometimes invisible and hidden, is always similar to hatred, and often completely identical with it.


So let's hope, that the hatred Ivo ANDRIC wrote about, has definitely been overcome by all European nations, and will hopefully soon be overcome by all nations wordlwide. The UN at least tries to show the way in this direction. It is on Earth Day, when the Peace Bell, which was given as a present to the United Nations in New York by Japan is rung every year.


The students of the AIVa (2003/04) did their best to collect information on


the historic background of Earth Day
the location of at least one famous bell per EU country (member states, new members and candidate countries)
the location of at least two famous bells for all the other continents
the purpose of these bells
the heaviest bells in the world

It was fascinating to accompany them on their trip around the world. Come with us on our Bells Trip! If you know of any bells which have not yet been included, please send me an e-mail.




If you search the Internet for Earth Day you will find two different dates: March 20/21 (Vernal Equinox) and April 22. As far as we could find out, March 20/21 seems to be the day, where people worldwide concentrate on the celebration of  peace and conservation of the environment.


The idea of celebrating Earth Day on Vernal Equinox was first proclaimed by John McConnell at an international UNESO Conference in San Francisco in 1969, and on March 21, 1970, the first Earth Day on the spring equinox was
celebrated in San Francisco. The ringing of the UN Peace Bell on the day of Vernal Equinox was also initiated by John McConnell. This tradition was started at the UN in March 1971 with Secretary-General U Thant  with the ringing of the UN Peace Bell.

The celebrations are different every year.  Some events are very simple, and others are much more elaborate. When the When the bell is rung at the UN Headquarter in New York, it simultaneously rings at the UN in Vienna, Austria,
and sometimes other places like Vilnius, Paris, Dublin, etc.  The bell is usually rung three times, which is followed by a Minute for Peace. This can be a silent prayer, reflection, or meditation, or the person who rung the bell (in many cases an ambassador from a UN member state) can just stay silent for one minute.

Also in 1969, April 22 was proclaimed Earth Day by Senator Gaylord Nelson and Denis Hayes. This Earth day is solely aimed at drawing people's attention to the importance of taking care of our environment. There is also a special website for children.


If you want to compare the two Earth Days click here! This site also offers a wide range of activities for protecting the environment.


Peace is also celebrated in autumn, on September 21 (equinox), which is called International Day of Peace.




First, the students tried to collect some information about the history of bells. Then, they were especially interested in finding information about peace and freedom bells worldwide, as the ringing of these bells on March 20/21 - is aimed at reminding people of how important peace is for all of us, and also how fragile peace often is in many parts of the world. The goal was, to find at least two peace or freedom bells per continent worldwide, and at least one peace bell in each EU country.


For general information about carillons worldwide, we found a page called Noted Carillons.  The Trinity College in Harford/Conneticut is home to the Plumb Memorial Carillon. You should also not miss the Gideon Bodden's Bell Links and the website of the World Carillon Federation.


Royal Eijsbouts, Bellfounders and Tower Clockmakers from the Netherlands inform us on their website about the meaning bells have had for people over the centuries. The World Carillon Federation offers some more information about where to find carillons.


Michigan State University runs a wonderful website concerning Bells and Their Music. Here you can travel through history and find out about various types of bells. Don't miss the many pictures of bells worldwide!


Bells and Gongs for Peace also offers a long list of peace bells.



Although this is a European Spring Day project, we first turned to North America. One of the most important bells there is the Japanese Peace Bell, which was given to the United Nations in New York (USA) by Japan in 1954. It is rung twice a year: on the day of the Vernal Equinox  in spring and on the day of the session of the General Assembly in September. Don't miss the information on this Peace Bell offered by WIKIPEDIA!

By the way, it might generally be interesting for young people to go on a virtual tour of the UN Headquarters in New York!


Another interesting bell, the World Peace Bell is located at the Millennium Monument in Newport/Kentucky. This bell is the second largest free-swinging bell in the world, weighing 33 tons. It was cast in France and is rung every day at noon. Click here for a video of the bell.


Of course, we must not forget Liberty Bell in Philadelphia/Pennsylvania, which is probably the most important bell for the United States! It is not really rung, but only symbolically tapped on every July 4 in celebration of the US independence. In addition to this, most capitals of US states are home to a copy of Liberty Bell, usually in or near the state capitol.

We found two interesting bells in Washington DC. One is the carillon of the Robert A. Taft Memorial next to the US Capitol. The other one is the Freedom Bell which stands next to the Christopher Columbus Monument on Columbus Circle. This bell, which was donated to the United States in celebration of the nation's bicentennial in 1981, is nearly twice as big as the original Liberty Bell. It is also called the Children's Bell.

Another bell which is closely related to the US independence is the bell of the old Lexington Belfry. Although the sound of this bell at the very beginning of the American War of Independence did not signal peace, it should be mentioned here as the first bell ringing for US independence.

Freedom Bell in front of the Columbus Monument

The bell tower of the First Unitarian Church in Providence (Rhode Island), built in 1816, is home to the largest bell (weighing 2,500 pounds) ever cast by silversmith and Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere.


Paul Revere, who rode quickly from Boston to Concord and Lexington in April 1776, was not only a brave fighter for US Independence, he also was the owner of a bell foundry. One of the bells cast by his company in 1804 can be seen at his house in Boston/Massachusetts.

Revere Bell


This bronze bell was cast in 1804 at the bell and cannon foundry of Paul Revere and Son. It was sold in 1805 to the East Parish Church, Bridgewater, Massachusetts.


Revere cast his first bell in 1792, for his own church, the Second Church of Boston. He cast his last bell in 1811, when at age 76 he ended his active partnership in the family firm. This is one of the 23 bells known to exist which were cast during the period of Revere's personal involvement at the foundry. Between 1792 and 1828, the Revere foundry cast 959 bells.


The metal content of the bell is approximately 75% copper, 21% tin, and 4% other metals. The tongue is of iron. Together, bell and tongue weigh 931 pounds. The church paid 43cent/pound for the bell, that makes a total charge of US$ 413.78. Revere also bought their old bell, weighing 748 pounds, for 20 cent/pound.


Revere was concerned that his bells be properly hung and rung, and each bell carried the following guarantee and warning:


This bell is warranted for twelve months accidents and improper usage excepted; and unless it shall be rung or struck before it is placed in the belfry, or tolled by pulling or forcing the tongue against the bell, by a string or otherwise.


(Text: Paul Revere House, Boston)

The University of Princeton (New Jersey) has got its own Carillon. It is located in Cleveland Tower at the Graduate College, and was  (in 1926) given as a present to the university by the class of 1892. Students, who want to learn how to play the Carillon, can take lessons every Sunday afternoon.

The city of Charlotte in North Carolina is home to the American Freedom Bell, which claims to be the world's largest bell at ground level (seven feet tall, seven feet wide and weighing seven tons).

Nauvoo Bell

On a trip to Salt Lake City (Utah) I came across this very interesting bell in the temple district of Salt Lake City. The Nauvoo Bell, which weighs more than 1,500 pounds, was originally used at the Nauvoo Mormon Temple (Illinois) in the 1840ies. When the Mormons left the city, the bell was first left behind and placed in a local Protestant church. It was later recovered by members of the Lamoreaux family before they left Nauvoo to head west.

On the journey to Salt Lake City the bell was used to awaken the herdsmen at dawn, to signal morning prayer, to start the day. It is nowadays rung every hour as a symbol of religious freedom.

The bell tower, where the bell is now kept, was built in 1942 with the donations of the Relief Society. This organization, founded on March 17, 1842 for women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. celebrated its centennial in 1942.

Mission Bell

On my trip to San Francisco to the WWERC 2005 I took the occasion to visit the Mission Dolores. You certainly guess easily what I found there! The so-called Mission Bell which is standing in the middle of a grassy median strip on the road in front of the Mission Church, heralding the renowned El Camino Real or King's Highway.

El Camino Real is amore than 700 miles long and is marked by the unique and picturesque Mission Bell guideposts which originally gave distances between the principal towns and directions to the Missions. The bells are placed along the road not merely as landmarks and guides to travelers but as testimonials to the work of the Franciscan padres who were the pioneers that settled California in 1769. 

The first El Camino Real Bell was installed at the Pueblo De Los Angeles Mission Church near Olvera Street in Los Angeles on August 15, 1906.


(Text: California Bell Company)

As you have already travelled so far with us, you should not miss the virtual tour of the Mission Dolores which was founded in 1791 and is the place where the beautiful city of San Francisco has its origins.

In Canada, we found a 53-bell carillon in the Peace Tower of the Houses of Parliament in Ottawa.


If you want to find out about the ten largest carillons of North America, one of the many subsites of Bells and Their Music will be the right place.


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It took the students quite some time to find a significant peace bell in Latin America, but finally they were successful. They found out, that in Lima, the capital of Peru there is a church called San Pedro. It is a Jesuit church dating back to the 17th century.  In one of its towers you can see an old bell called "La Abuelita" (the grandma') which rang for the first time in 1590 and was the "official" sound of Peru's Declaration of Independence (1821).

Thanks to the Lama Gangchen World Peace  Foundation we now also know, that there is a peace bell in Santiago de Chile (right) which was rung on the occasion of taking the sacred Buddha relics and World Peace Stupa on a world tour in 2003.


The sacred Buddha relics and Peace Stupa were a gift from Thailand to the United Nations on the occasion of the recognition of the Vesak Day by the United Nations General Assembly as an International UN Day. The relics were gifted by Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The official ceremony that brought the World Peace Stupa back to United Nations Headquarters in New York took place on September 8, 2006.

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In Asia the class found an interesting Peace Bell, which was installed in the city of Nanjing, in the Province of Jiangsu (China) only in December 2003 in remembrance of the Nanjing Massacre (1937-1938), in which 300,000 people were killed by the Japanese invaders.


In Beijing they came across something fascinating, the so-called Ancient Bell Museum. If you go to its website, don't miss to have a closer look at the numerous links. They are really fascinating!


As a consequence of an unprecedented 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Taiwan on September 21, 1999, the Taipei Bell of Peace was created. I think, it is really a marvellous piece of art. Just touch the bell and find out about its various parts!


Legend has it, that Burma is home to the biggest bell ever cast (in 1484), the Dhammazedi Bell, sunk into a river in 1608, when the Portuguese adventurer Filipe de Brito y Nicote had it removed from the Shwedagon Pagoda and wanted to transport it to a town called Syriam. This bell was obviously even bigger than the Tsar Kolokol, which nowadays is at least the biggest bell people can still visit as a tourist attraction (see Russia below!)


Japan has set up its most famous Peace Bell remembering the death of thousands of people in Hiroshima (1945). It is exhibited in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. On the surface of this Peace Bell is engraved a world map, which has no national borders to symbolize the world living as one, in peace.


But this is not the only Peace Bell in Japan. there are four more: the biggest bell wordlwide can now be found in Gotemba City. It is called Tokinosumika Bell; another one can be found in Ishigaki, Japan's southernmost city, one in Wakkanai, Japan's northernmost city, and one in Osaka.


Don't forget to visit the Okinawa Peace Bell, which was put up in remembrance of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, in which more than 200,000 perished, including US and Japanese soldiers and Okinawan citizens.


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Australia also has got a World Peace Bell, located in the city of Cowra in New South Wales. The bell was awarded to Cowra in 1992 for its long standing contribution to world peace and international understanding. It is made of coins provided by 103 member countries of the United Nations, which were melted down and cast into the bell.  It can be watched at the Cowra Civic Square in a Pavillion decorated with pottery tiles reflecting the community's ideas about the World Peace Bell and its association with Cowra. Every year, a ceremony is held on World Peace Day (the third Tuesday in September).


The National War Memorial of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is home to the world's third largest carillon. It was originally designed as the sister instrument to the Peace Tower Carillon at the Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, Canada. The 12 tonne Peace Bell here is the biggest bell in the Southern Hemisphere.


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It proved to be difficult again to find peace and liberty bells in Africa, although we would have expected, that many countries have got one. But finally we were successful.


We found out, that the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town (South Africa) is the oldest surviving building in the country. Built between 1666 and 1679, this pentagonal fortification replaced a small clay and timber fort built by Commander Jan van Riebeeck in 1652 upon establishing a maritime replenishment station at the Cape of Good Hope for the Dutch East India Company. In 1679 the five bastions were named after the main titles of Willem, the Prince of Orange.

The Bell Tower was built in 1684 . The original bell, which weighs 760 pounds, is still hanging in the tower. The bell was cast in 1697 in Amsterdam by Claude Fremy and is the oldest in South Africa. The bell could be heard as far as Rondebosch (+/- 10km away) when it was tolled on the hour to indicate the time. It was also, used to indicate danger, as well as to summon residents and soldiers to the Castle for important announcements.


In Windhoek the capital of Namibia, we found Christchurch, which still has got bells cast by the famous bell casters Schilling in Apolda/Thuringia. The three bronze bells sound in in E (“Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe”), F (“und Friede auf Erden”) and C (“und den Menschen ein Wohlgefallen”).


In Accra, the captial of Ghana, people hold a ceremony on  the first Sunday of every month. This ceremony is called Hatsiatsia. Music is played on two types of iron bells. This ceremony is a chance for all participants to forget about arguments they had with members of their families or with friends during the past month.


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Finally the students ended up in Europe, and found a number of peace and freedom bells in European countries. You will below now find four tables of countries: EU member states, EU candidate countries, Mini States and non-member states. Just click on the name of the country you want to visit!


For Spring Day 2005 Noemi Lusi (Italy) and Magdalena Bobek (Slovenia) carried out an eTwinning project in which they collected information about clocks in Italy and Slovenia together with their students.


EU member states



CyprusGreece NetherlandsSpain
Czech RepublicHungaryMaltaSweden
DenmarkIrelandPolandUnited Kingdom


First we collected information on two very famous bells in Austria. One is the most famous bell in Vienna, the so-called Pummerin (Boomer Bell), which is only rung for special occasions. e.g the celebration of the New Year. The old Pummerin, which was destroyes in WWII, was originally cast in 1711 from cannons captured from the Muslim invaders in the Second Turkish Siege of Vienna, and was installed in the high south tower of the cathedral.

The new Pummerin, was partly cast from the metal of the old Pummerin and was finished in 1951. It is the biggest bell of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna and the fifth biggest bell of Europe. It has a diameter of 3.14m and weighs 21 tons. We found out, that it is the second biggest bell in the world. Here you can listen to the Pummerin.


There is another Austrian bell called Peace Bell of the Alpine Region. The students found information in German and English about this bell which is located in Moesern in the Tyrol. It is rung every day at 5pm.


Another Austrian Peace Bell, at the church of Waldhausen im Strudengau is rather young. It was cast in 2002 and is also called Europe Bell.


An we must not forget, that Vienna is also home to a UN Peace Bell, which is always rung on the day of Vernal Equinox. This was actually the first of the Peace Bells in Europe. It was first run on March 20, 1996.


Graz, the second biggest city of Austria and the Cultural Capital of Europe 2003 has got two interesting bell towers: the Clock Tower on the Castle Hill, which has a very unusual clockface, and the Bell Tower, which is home to the so-called Liesl, the heaviest bell of Graz (4.200kg).

The tower of the Burg Hohenwerfen in Salzburg is home to a huge bell, which is nicknamed "Burgahnl". The bell weighs 4412kg and was cast in 1568 in Innsbruck by Hans Christoph Löffler.

Feldkirch in Vorarlberg is the city with the best preserved medieval centre in the most western province of Austria. The Katzenturm (Cat-Tower) is an eight-story high, round building, which was established during the town fortification in 1491-1507 under the Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I. In the 17th century the bell tower was built for the biggest bell in Vorarlberg, however today only the fourth bell is attached. It was called the „Cat-Tower“ because of the canons that originally fortified the tower.


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The city of Bruges in Belgium (Cultural Capital of Europe 2002) has a famous Bell Tower watching over its Market Square since 1300. The octagonal lantern at the top was added in 1486, making the tower 88 meters high.  You can climb the 366 steps if you are touring Bruges. The view from the top over all the red-tiled roofs and canals in the city is fascinating.

Thanks to Trui Catteeuw in Flanders the students could find some more famous bells. First, the peace bell in Mesen/Messines, a little village near the French frontier, where a couple of years ago the Irish president met the French Prime Minsiter. That bell was blessed on May 17, 1985 by Pope John Paul II. in remebrance of the soldiers who lost their lives in World Wars I and II. It weighs 141 kg. The bell is part of a Peace Bells project which was initiated by Albert Ghekiere, Church Warden of St Nicholas Church in Mesen, who died in 2003.

Another famous bell is Klokke Roelant in the belfry of Ghent. That bell dates back to 1314 and was used to announce fire or storm. The belfry is part of what people call the "three towers fo Ghent".


Also the bell Orida (i.e. horrible) was used for this purpose. It weighs 1,928kg. When fire had broken out or when an enemy army was approaching Antwerp's gates, this bell was used to warn the citizens. Until 1475 Orida hung in the Roman tower of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp (Cultural Capital of Europe 1993). Then it was moved to the "new" tower, which also served as Antwerp's belfry. Now it's in a museum in Antwerp. The bell Orida bears a Latin inscription, saying: "The horrible I am called - master Gerard of Liège cast me in the year 1316". Liège was already famous  for its metal industry in the 14th century.


The city of Mechelen is home to the highest though unfinished church tower of the Netherlands, St. Rombold's Tower which houses very big bells forming a carillon.

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In Bulgaria the class found information about two churches with beautiful bell towers. One of them is the Alexander Newski Cathedral in Sofia. On the western side of the main three-door vaulted entrance  the bell tower rises which ends in a dome. It is home to twelve bells, the largest of which is weighs 11,758kg, the second largest 6,002kg, the third 2,911kg and the smallest 10kg. On a nice and calm day the ringing of the largest bell is heard as far as 30km from Sofia.


The other one is the Methodist Church in Varna. This church has an interesting history. The original building dates back to 1889, but was taken over by the communist government in 1965 and could - since then - no longer be used as a church. Members of the congregation secretly removed the bell in 1965 and buried it in the ground. When the congregation was officially allowed to hold services after the breakdown of communism, the members made up their minds to build a new church, which was dedicated in 2002. The bell was excavated by the three men, who had buried it and who alone knew where and how it had been hidden. The bell was polished and installed in the bell-cage of the new tower. The newly cleaned and shining bell held a surprise for everyone. On one side of the bell is inscribed "Varna" and on the reverse side the inscription reads "Baltimore", as the bell had been a donation from the Methodists in Baltimore many years ago!


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One of the most famous and beautiful cities of Croatia is Dubrovnik. There on the eastern side of Luza Square you can find a famous Belfry, the Luza Zvonara, the Town Belfry and the Main Guard House. The bells from Luza Zvonara (built in 1463) were used to mark the beginning of the council sessions and to call alerts. The construction of the Town Belfry was mentioned in the documents from 1444. The clock with two wooden human figures (so-called "zelenci", "greenies"), striking the hours, was made by Luka, a son of the admiral Miho (cast in bronze by an anonymous master in 1476). The present bell (from 1506) is a work by Ivan Krstitelj Rabljanin. The Town Belfry was completely restored in 1929.


Zagreb Cathedral had a bell tower until 1880. It was destroyed in an earthquake.


One of the oldest bell towers at the seaside is the bell tower of St Mary's church in Zadar, a beautiful old town in mid Dalmatia (dating from 1105). A picture of the church and its bell tower is availabel here! According to the inscription on the Romanesque bell tower, it was built on the order of the Hungarian-Croatian king Koloman in the early 12th century. The upstairs chapel of the bell tower contains the remains of 12th-century frescoes, while the name of King Koloman was carved into four capitals.


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In Cyprus, the high bell-tower of the Archangelos Church, the Greek Orthodox church of Kyrenia, dedicated to Archangel Michael, is the most obvious landmark of the town. The church was built in 1860 and its bell tower was added about 25 years later. 

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In Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, the class found the Loretto Carillon which dates back to the 17th century. It is one of the oldest working carillons in Europe.


Did you ever hear of the Travelling Carillon of Prague? If not, its website is certainly worth vitising.


St. Vitus Cathedral, dominating the skyline of Prague from the top of the Hradčany (castle) quarter is home to the heaviest bell of Bohemia.It hangs in the tower of the cathedral, weighs 18t and is called Sigismund.


The cathedral's most prominent feature is the 96m high Great Tower. Topped by a baroque three-tiered dome that holds the largest bell in Bohemia - Sigismund, the Tower's 297 steps (open to the public) provide for excellent views of the city.

Walking across the Old Town Square (Altstädter Ring) in Prague after the Spring Teachers Meeting 2006 in January 2006, Inara from Latvia and I found another fascinating bell in the corner of a house, the socalled "House of the Stone Bell" (left). Furthermore we admired the famous astronomical clock on the tower of the Gothic Town Hall.

The Black Tower in Ceske Budejovice is the 72m high bell tower of the St. Nicholas Cathedral, built from 1550 to 1577. Located on the corner of one of Europe's largest squares, it offers sweeping views of the Bohemian Forest and the Alps.


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Bells have been used for religious purposes in Denmark since earlier than the year 1000. The oldest documented bell dates from 854, when the French-born missionary monk Asgar founded a church near Slesvig. No wonder, that a Bell Museum was founded in Denmark in 1991.


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In Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, the students found two interesting churches: The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which is officially called St. Mary's Cathedral (Tallinner Dom) and is the centre of Russian Orthodoxy in Estonia. Built in 1900, it was designed by the St. Petersburg architect Mikhail Preobrzhenski and features the classical onion domes typical of Russian churches. Nevsky was the Russian hero who defeated the vastly superior forces of the Teutonic knights in the 13th century. According to local legends, the structural damage the cathedral has suffered this century results from its having been built on the grave of the local hero Kalevipoeg. The church’s belltowers hold Tallinn’s most powerful church bell ensemble, consisting of 11 bells, including the largest in Tallinn, weighing 15 tonnes.


The tower bell of the Holy Ghost Church, made in 1433, was the oldest in Estonia but was badly damaged in a fire in May 2002 . The painted clock on the church façade is the oldest public timekeeper in Tallinn.

We also found information about the Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin in Tallinn.


Another interesting bell can be found in the small town of Värska: it is called Jüri Bell and was cast in 1926 for Värska Church. As it has got a large crack, is out of use nowadays.


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In Finland the class found information about Helsinki Cathedral, a Lutheran church which was built from 1830 to 1852, replacing an older church from 1727. It was called St. Nicholas church until the independence of Finland in 1917. Since 1959, when it became a Cathedral, it has been called Helsinki Cathedral or Lutheran Cathedral.

Naantali Church in the harbour city of Naantali was completed in 1462 for a monastery, and the tower was added in 1794-1797. The church has been restored in the 1860s, and the present appearance dates back to the reconstruction in 1963-1964. The church is a landmark of the town.


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It was not too difficult to find information about bells in France. The south tower of the Nôtre Dame Cathedral in Paris is housing a 13 ton called Emmanuel. This bell is only rung on celebratory occasions (it is also the bell that in fiction the hunchback Quasimodo swings from).


In the north of France, the city of Douai is home to a very famous and old belfry, which dates back to 1380.


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Maybe the presence of the numerous peace bells in Germany has got its roots in the fact, that the centre of Europe has suffered so many wars in the 19th and 20th centuries.


In Berlin you can visit the Freedom Bell and a Peace Bell. The Freedom Bell was dedicated to the city in 1950, and since then it has chimed every day at midday from the tower of the Rathaus Schöneberg. Its sound has become the symbol of freedom in the city, the expression of American support for Berlin and the symbol of German-American friendship. It was drafted according to the sample of the American Liberty Bell in Philalephia . You can listen to it here! I have to thank my colleague Reinhard Bock from Berlin who is living near Rathaus Schöneberg and who supplied me with lively information about this bell.


The Berlin Peace Bell is located in the Volkspark Friedrichshain and is sort of a replica of the Japanese Peace Bell at the UN Headquarters in New York.


There is another Peace Bell in the eastern part of Germany, in Frankfurt an der Oder. It was installed there in remembrance of the Treaty signed in 1951 between Poland and East-Germany concerning the Oder-Neiße border. Until 1989 it was always rung on September 1, remembering the day when World War II had begun.


The Cathedral of Erfurt, the capital of Thueringen, is home to one of the biggest and heaviest medieval bells in Europe, which is called Gloriosa. Don't miss to visit Erfurt and this interesting bell, which you can also hear when you click on the link.


The Market Square of Halle/Saale is home to the so-called Red Tower (Roter Turm), which is 84m high. It was built between 1418 and 1506, but was heavily damaged during World War II. It was only reconstructed between 1972 and 1975, and was again equipped with a carillon of 76 bells in 1993.


The city of Leipzig is home not only to a number of churches and their bells, but also to an interesting bell - not on top of a bell tower but on Leipzig's first skyscraper - built in 1927/28: the Krochhochhaus. The bell and the figures were modelled after those of the clock tower in the St. Mark's Square of Venice.


Most bells are made of iron, but the bells (Glockenspiel) of the clock tower of the Town Hall of Weimar were produced in Meissen are made of porcelain.


Similar porcelain carillons can be found in Meißen in the tower of the Frauenkirche and in Dresden in the Zwinger.

porcelain carillon in the tower of the Frauenkirche (Meissen)porcelain carillon in the Zwinger of Dresden


The Cathedral of Colgone on the River Rhine, is home to the largest free swinging bell of Europe, the so-called "German Bell" ("Deutsche Glocke").


In the Alexanderkirche in Marbach we found a bell called Concordia which is reminding us of the great German poet Friedrich von Schiller. You can see the bell, which  - according to legend - inspired the great poet to his poem Die Glocke on the website of its foundry.  


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It was impossible to find a famous bell in Greece. Finally we found a beautiful picture of a typical Greek bell tower on the main church of Thira on the island of Santorini.


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Although Hungary is a neighbouring country of Austria, we were not familiar with important bells there. But then one of the students found information about a very young bell. In the town of Szeged, the bell of the Votive Church and Cathedral of our Lady of Hungary had become useless and a money raising campaign was started in order to have the bell replaced. The new bell is named named Saint Theresa, weighs 580kg and was lifted up to its final "resting place" in April 2003. Find some more information about the bells here - and listen to them. 


On the way up to the Primatial Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed Into Heaven and St Adalbert in Esztergom a number of old bells is exhibited. You can see the main bell of the Cathedral here.
The "Sound of Szer" was an old bell of a monastery the 15th century, the remains of which were excavated in 1993. The bell was recast and first sounded again on July 2, 2007.






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Ireland is among those European countries which can loon back on a very long Christian tradition. Therefore we were not really surprised to find the Shrine of St. Patrick's Bell there, which dates back to around 1000 BC. It symbolizes the coming of Christianity to Ireland. Legend has it, that the bell was blackened by the fires of hell when St. Patrick had to battle with the agan gods on Croagh Patrick.


Patrick Seaver, who supported the students in their research, also referred them to St. Patrick's Bell, and informed them, that it is exhibited in the National Museum in Dublin. Legend has it, that it was used by St. Patrick and buried in his tomb. Here you can gather further information on St. Patrick's Bell.


One of Dublin's most famous New Year's traditions is to gather outside the Cathedral to hear the bells ring in the New Year. The bells of Christ Church Cathedral (the Holy Trinity) have been clanging in the year's best party night for a very long time.


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Searching for peace bells in Italy, we were very lucky, as we were supported by two Spring Teachers. Noemi Lusi informed us about a very special bell in Rome, the so-called Patarina. It is located on the Capitoline Hill and is rung every year at noon on April 21 to commemorate the founding of Rome. This is the only day per year, when the famous cannon of Gianicolo remains silent. The original Patarina was in Viterbo until the 12th century, and then it was
transferred to Rome where it was played to summon people to Parliament. In the 19th century it was replaced by two bells, and it is still played when the Mayor is elected.


Claudia Gaeta, who lives on the shores of Lago Maggiore drew our attention to the peace bell of Rovereto (in Trentino, northern Italy) remembering the soldiers who died in World War I. The bell was cast from the guns sent by the 19 countries participating in World War I. Its name is "Maria Dolens". It was blessed by two Popes. This

enormous bell rings every evening to remember all the fallen during the wars.


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The students could not find famous or remarkable bells in Latvia. But Inara Zlaugotne referred them to the Cathedral of Riga and they found the following: great parts of the cathedral date back to the 15th century, but  notably the Eastern end has 13th century romanesque features. The spire is an 18th century addition. Furthermore they learned from Inara, that the bell is usually sounded on New Year's Eve on national TV and radio.The old bells can be admired in the cloister courtyard.
On a trip to Riga in 2014 (Cultural Capital of Europe) we found out, that the town hall clock in Riga is connected to a brand new carillon (left).



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It took some time, before we found out, supported by Mrs. Ann Charles from the UN and Snieguole Polianskiene from Lithuania that there is a peace bell rung in the Bernardine Monastery in Vilnius every year on the Vernal Equinox.


In addition to that, the students also looked  out for a cathedral, and they found Vilnius Cathedral. The first cathedral on this place was built by the Lithuanian King Mindaugas, who not only unified Lithuania, but also, seeking favours from the Livonian Order, was baptised with his family around 1251 and erected a cathedral in Vilnius in the middle of the 13th century.


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In Luxembourg my students also could not really find a peace or freedom bell. Therefore they had to seek refuge once more in a cathedral. The earliest roots of the Cathédrale de Notre-Dame in the city of Luxembourg go back to the 16th century.


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In The Hague in the Netherlands, we even found a Peace Palace. The building was a gift from the American citizen Andrew Carnegie to the city of The Hague. This palace was given the name of Peace Palace, to express the great importance attached to this endeavour to solve disputes and so to maintain world peace. For the design of the building, an international competition was held. The French architect Cordonnier was the winner. The Dutch architect Van der Steur amended his design.


The Old Church of Amsterdam is home to an old bronze bell dating back to 1652 and to two carillons.

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In Malta the students found some interesting clock towers: the bell towers of the Mdina Cathedral (17th century), and a clock tower being part of the Citadel of Gozo. The clock tower in Gozo dates back to 1639.


Thanks to Sue Privitelli, the students were finally able to find information on the most remarkable bell of Malta. Near the Lower Barracca Gardens in Valletta, you can find the St. Lazarus Bastion, situated on the foundations of one of the many shore batteries from that tragic time when Malta was honoured with the George Cross in 1942  for bravery by the late King George. There you can find the the Siege Bell hanging beneath a dome above a reclining bronze statue, commemorating the dead of World War II. It is rung every day at noon.


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The holiest sanctuary in Krakow in Poland is the Wawel Cathedral. The current cathedral, built by King Kazimierz the Great, is the third church built on this site. The basilica was completed by 1364, but chapels were added over the following centuries. The tomb of St. Stanislas dominates the Cathedral. The Cathedral was dedicated to St. Stanislas and St. Wencelas (the patron saint of the previous church on the site) in 1320. The Zygmunt Bell, named after King Zygmunt the Old, was cast in 1520 and weighs 18 tons (10,000 Kg). It can be heard as far as 50 miles away.


Warsaw was also given a Bell of Peace as a present by the city of Hiroshima. It looks similar to all the other Japanese Peace Bells.

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Portugal is special within Europe: it is located in the very west. Off the Portuguese coast an Italian diver found the bell of Columbus' flagship Santa Maria in 1994. It is the very same bell which announced the discovery of the "New World" to the crew of the Santa Maria, a unique testimony of the history of the American discovery.


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Transylvania, a region of Romania, is not only the home of Count Dracula, but has also been the home of a German speaking minority, the so-called Transylvania Saxons, since the reign of Maria Theresia. Their main city is Hermannstadt (Sibiu). The old Town Hall of Sibiu  was built in the 15th century, in the Gothic style. In its court-yard there is a gallery leading to a small tower with a chapel and a weapon room. In the tower there is a little bell, called “the bell of the poor sinners”: it used to be tolled only when a person sentenced to death was taken to the execution place.


The biggest bell of Romania can be found in the clock tower of the so-called Black Church in Braşov. It weighs 6 tons. Until 1914 there were six bells in the tower. Three of them were brought down in order to use the metal for war affairs. The remaining three are still in place in the tower.


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In Slovakia, the students were supported by Ludovit Sopcak in their search for interesting bells. They found a number of bells, two of them with an Austria-connection. The Wederin Bell of St. Martin's Cathedral weighs 2,513kg and was made by the Vienna bell-producer Balthasar Herold in 1670. It is one of Slovakia's oldest cultural monuments and one of the five oldest bells in Europe. It was repaired in 2000 and brought back to the tower together with five other bells marking the friendship between Slovakia and its neighbouring countries. They were donated by Vienna, Kiev, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw.

The biggest of the new bells is the Vienna bell - named Maria Theresia - weighing 2.2 tons, while the smallest one, St. Vladimir, comes from Kiev. Budapest donated the St. Margaret bell, while Warsaw's gift was named after Pope John Paul II. Prague gave the St. Vojtech bell.
It was here in St. Martin's Cathedral, during the time when Bratislava was the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary, that a series of Hungarian Kings and Queens, including Maria Theresia, were crowned.


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It took quite some time before the students were able to find a bell tower in Slovenia. Finally they found a website of the city of Bled. The church St. Marija sits in the middle of Lake Bled on the island of Otok. Lake Bled is located at the edge of Triglav National Park. If you visit the tiny island with the 'Pletna' boat, you can yourself ring the "bell of wishes" in the famous wish bell tower.

Magdalena Bobek informed us, that the bell was made in 1534 by F. Patavino. Her student Eva Ule wrote: Legend has it that a young widow who lived in the castle at Bled, was mourning her husband, who had been brutally murdered by bandits. She gathered all the gold and silver she possessed and had a small bell made for the church on the island. When the bell was taken to the island, a fierce storm turned over the boat. The bell sank to the bottom of the lake and all the boatmen died. The young widow was even sadder now. She went to Rome and entered the convent. After her death, the pope had a new bell sent to the church. It is said that anyone who can make the bell ring three times with just one pull of the rope, will have his wish granted. Eva Ule also submitted a photo!

After the terrible bomb attacks in Madrid on March 11, 2004, the ringing of peace bells won a new dimension. Magdalena called the parish priest of St. Marija and told him about Spring Day and the whole idea behind it. She asked him to ring the "bell of wishes" on 23rd March at 10:00 for peace in the world and to say a prayer for the families who have suffered so much from the Madrid disaster. He was so impressed with the whole idea and immediately put the ringing of the bell on his agenda.


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The students found a number of interesting bells in Spain. The first one is a bell in Santiago de Compostela called "Berengella" (it was donated by the French cardinal by the name of Bérenguer, whose waist apparently equalled the bell's circumference).


The biggest rollover bell worldwide and the biggest carillon in Spain are to be found in Vila-Real. The bell, installed at the Saint Pascual Baylon sanctuary belltower, has a total weight of 3360kg and a diametre of 150 cm. It is named Sanctissimum Sachramentum,


Valencia has got an old bell tower called Micalet or Miguelete, which is a well known landmark of the city.


Here you can find out more about the bell towers of Catalonia!


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The students had major difficulties finding a peace or freedom bell in Sweden. Finally they came across a wooden bell tower in "Skansen Park", an open air cultural museum in Stockholm. There are some 150 houses depicting urban life, as well as country life, lower, middle and upper class. A zoo with animals from Swedish farms as well as Swedish wildlife, an aquarium, terrarium, and a tobacco museum can also be visited.

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In comparison to Turkey, the United Kingdom was rather easy for the youngsters. They are all familiar with one of the most famous bell towers worldwide, Big Ben.


In addition to this they found the famous Cambridge Chimes of the church Great St. Mary's in Cambridge. The first bells of Great St. Mary's date back to 1594.They are swinging in a full circle.


The city of Loughborough in Leicestershire is home to The Bellfoundry Museum which offers a unique chance to find out about the history of the bellfounder’s craft, see how bells are made and tested, and follow the story of Great Paul and its journey to London in 1882. There is also the opportunity to tour the Works to see a bellfoundry in action, making bells for use around the world. An essential part of the nearby War Memorial Museum is the Carillon Tower.



EU candidate countries


Republic of MacedoniaTurkey


In Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, we found the Hallgrímskirkja with a very impressive bell tower. In front of the church you can see a statue of Leif Eriksson. The bell tower is 73 m high and offers a beautiful view over the city.


The picturesque Holar Cathedral and the agricultural college facilities of Holar i Hjaltadal Iceland are located in the place where the first Icelandic Bible was printed in 1584. The church is the oldest one in continuous use in the country. The separate bell tower  is younger. It dates back to 1950.


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Macedonia is home to some very important cultural sites, e.g. the monasteries of Kumanovo and Leshok. Unfortunately both were vandalized in 2001 in the course of ethnic conflicts.


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In Montenegro you should not miss the orthodox Monastery of Cetinje, which was founded in 1484, but the bell tower is younger: it was built in the 18th century. For teachers it might also be interesting, that the first school in Montenegro was opened in this Monastery in 1834.


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The two-storied bell tower of the Cathedral of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, was built at the beginning of the 19th century. There is a number of interesting churches in Belgrade.


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As Turkey is a Muslim country, it is really difficult to find bells there. The students did their best, and they found the ruins of the Armenian Church on the island of Akdamar located in Lake Van in Eastern Anatolia. It has also got a bell tower, though a not very old one.


Mini States

AndorraMonacoVatican City (Holy See)
LiechtensteinSan Marino 

The tiny parish of Ordino in Andorra is home to beautiful churches, whose bells traditionally ring to welcome the New Year. And this ringing is so beautiful, that Televisió de catalunya broadcasts it every year.


The bell tower of the Church of Saint John (Església de Sant Joan) in Caselles is in Lombard Romanesque style, and has two porches added at later dates, one at the entrance to the church and the other on the west side.


You will also like the Romanesque bell tower of the Church of Saint Stephen (Església de Sant Esteve) in Andorra la Vella.


The 12th century Lombard Romanesque bell tower of the Church of Sant Climent in Pal, is one of the most interesting in Andorra, being the only one to have double twinned windows.

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The Chapel of St. Wendelin and Martin on the Steg in the small town of Triesenberg in Liechtenstein has got a round bell tower dating back to the beginning of the 20th century.

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In Monaco, the elegant Church of Saint Charles in the French Renaissance style has got a bell-tower rising to a height of 108 feet. It was inaugurated in 1883.

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Although San Marino is so tiny, it has got a number of marvellous bell towers. On top of Mount Titano, which overlooks the city, there are three main towers: La Rocca (First Tower), the Cesta (Second Tower) and the Montale (Third Tower).

La Rocca, dating from the 11th century, was carved directly out of the stone of the mountain and boasts a glorious bell tower. This bell tower, which dates back to the 1500s, is an important symbol for the inhabitants of San Marino. In former times, the bells were rung in order to call people to the arms, when the country was in danger. Nowadays they are still ringing regularly to celebrate civil and religious holidays.

There are also plenty of churches worth seeing in San Marino, including the Basilica del Santo, containing the remains and artefacts of the patron saint of the republic. The bell tower dates back to the 7th century, while today's main building was constructed in the 19th century. 

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Vatican City or The Holy See even has the term "bells" in the name of one of its entrances, the so-called Arch of the Bells (Arco delle Campane, Arc of Charlemagne), where the soldiers of Swiss Guard protect the Vatican.

The chimes of the Basicila San Pietro in Vaticano, one of the most impressive churches of the Catholic world, differ from occasion to occasion. The chimes for the daily service are rather simple. but there are different complicated ones for a number of festivals celebrated in the cathedral.


non-member states


There are still numerous countries outside the European Union, which are nevertheless part of Europe. One of the poorest among these is Albania. The capital, Tirana, has got an unusual mosque, the so-called Bell-Tower Mosque. In October 1999 Pope John Paul II. blessed a Bell of Peace made from shells collected in the Albanian region of Zadrima, which will was hung in the central square of Tirana and was first rung on January 1, 2000 during a big manifestation of children from the whole country.


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It is not easy to find a bell tower in Armenia. The Armenian word is "zhamatun". Finally we found a webpage about Armenian monasteries.


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We found a beautiful picture of bells in Azerbaijan: the Russian Orthodox Church of Archangel Michael in Baku has got beautiful bells at its entrance.


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In Belarus we found very special bells which are not to be found in a church: The Khatyn World War II Memorial, that reminds us of 149 people who were killed in their 26 houses in 1943, has 26 of symbolic chimneys with bells - creating an image of a burned village. Every hour the bells of Khatyn are ringing to remind us about the horrible crimes which were committed here. Let hope, that this really touching remembrance of the victims of Khatyn will prevent future generations from similar crimes!


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Concerning Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, we would first like to refer to the motto at the beginning of this site. The skyline of old Sarajevo (before the end of Yugoslavia) was famous for the proximity of its Orthodox and Catholic churches, mosques and synagogues. The only unwritten rule was that no minaret or bell tower should be higher than any of the other houses of worship. 


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The bell tower of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in the historical town of Mtskheta in Georgia, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, has got a bell which was cast in Germany.


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Unfortunately, many churches in Kosovo and their bell towers were destroyed in the 1999 war. Let's hope, that they will be rebuilt!


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Moldova hosted the first contest for Bell Ringer of the World in June 2003 in the village of Hirtopul Mare located 29km from Chisinau. 35 bell-ringers from 9 countries (Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, Poland, the USA, Cyprus and Romania) participated in the contest.


In Chisinau, the capitla of Moldova, we found the so-called Sacred Gate, which is also called Arch of Glory or Triumphal Arch. This 13m high arch was built in 1840. Astonishingly, this arch houses a massive bell, which weighs 6.4 tons.


Standing in front of the Triumphal Arch and looking though the arch you can see Chisinau Cathedral, which has got a free standing bell tower. Don't miss all the other beautiful chuches of Chisinau!


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The city of Trondheim in the far north of Norway has a number of marvellous churches, such as Nidaros Cathedral. But we could not find information about its bells.


We found out that the World Carillon Federation held its annual Congress in Olso in 2004, that Norway has seven carillons, and that in 2005 the eighth will be installed in the massive  bell tower of Oslo Cathedral.


But not all belfries are huge. Some can be also very small and still interesting, as the tiny wooden one of the Borgund Stave Church, which dates back to the 12th century. Having seen this interesting church, you might want to learn more about the so-called Stave Churches. You will certainly fall in love with them!


Furthermore Oslo was good for another surprise! In the Oslo Fjord we found a bell tower on Heggholmen Lighthouse Station. The bell here is a so-called fog bell warning ships in bad weather that they are approaching the mainland.


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We learned a lot about bells - not only in Russia but worldwide - from John Burnett, Executive Manager of Blagovest Bells, who runs a fascinating website (blagovest means "worship" in Russian!). From January 2005 onwards he will be the superintendent of the school system of the Orthodox Church in Uganda. We wish him all the best for this new task and hope, that he will collect some more information then on bells in Africa, about which we so far have not found much information.


Another American source of Russian bells is the Lowell House at Harvard University, which holds a collection of 17 Russian bells. They were given  as a gift to the house in 1930 by Charles Crane. The bells originally came from the St. Danilov Monastery in Moscow.


And from the website of Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco we learned a lot about bells and their ringing.


The Kremlin in Moscow, the capital of Russia, is home to the biggest bell of the world - which was never rung, because it was already damaged during the casting process in 1734. It is called "Tsar Kolokol" ("Tsar Bell") and weighs 200 tonnes. Nowadays it is still a tourist attraction on the square in front of the Bell Tower of Ivan the Great, which has an interesting history.


In January 2004, a gargantuan church bell, the biggest ever to ring in Russia, was blessed and hoisted up to a belfry in the Trinity Monastery in Sergiyev Posad, one of the holiest sites of the Russian Orthodox faith (founded in 1340).The bell weighs 72 tonnes Sergivjev Posad, a small town northeast of Moscow, was called Zagorsk during the Soviet era.


The church bells of St.Petersburg are said to have special chimes for the following reasons: they were not only made of special alloys, but also the bell-casting process followed a particular tradition. The founders had to observe a fast and pray continuously several days in advance.


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Switzerland is very rich in historic bells, as its towns and cities were not destroyed in two world wars. The Muenster or Cathedral of Bern  is home to seven old bells. The most famous one is the "poor sinners' bell" (Armesünderglocke or Henkersglocke), which got this name as it was always rung as a sign that a condemned person was to be executed. It hangs in the same tower as Switzerland's largest bell, which weighs 10 tonnes.


The Protest Bell of the Muenster of Schaffhausen got its name from its protestant inscription. 

The Monastery of St. Gallen is home to the oldest bell of Switzerland and the third oldest bell in Europe, which is said to have been brought from Ireland by the monk Gallus in the 7th century.


The Barbara Bell of the Cathedral of Fribourg as well as a number of other bells, were cast by a foundry which still exists.

In Geneva  the oldest bell of the Saint-Pierre Cathedral is called Clémence and dates back to the late Middle Ages as well as the bell of the Saint François Cathedral of Lausanne.


As Geneva is (like New York and Vienna) a UN city, we can also find a peace bell there on the fringe of the United Nations. The bell is rung every year on Spring and Autumn equinox days in particular. We have to thank the UN Representative  Isthar D.-Adler from the Lama Gangchen World Peace Foundation for this information and for the picture (above). Lama Ganchen also drafted a Poem Bell, which is rather impressive, but too large to be published here.


The Lama Gangchen World Peace Foundation has also placed a Peace Bell at the meditation centre on Lake Maggiore, near Verbania in the locality of Albagnano di Bee.

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The bell tower of St. George Cathedral in Lviv (Lwow or Lemberg) in the Ukraine houses the oldest bell in the country. St. George's Cathedral is the main sanctuary of the Greek-Orthodox church in the Ukraine.


The free standing bell tower of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, is certainly worth seeing.


© Dr. Susanne Pratscher


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