April 30, 2007 / 1:15 AM / 12 years ago

FACTBOX-Five bells around Europe

(Reuters) - Scientists across Europe are trying to find out what determines a bell’s lifespan by examining famous specimens like Vienna’s Pummerin or London’s Great Paul.

Here are some facts about five great bells:


— The largest bell in Austria is the old Pummerin bell. It was cast in 1711 with the metal from cannon balls used by the Turks during the 2nd Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683.

— The bell, which weighed 22.5 tonnes and hung in the south tower, was called the Josephinian bell at first, but later nicknamed “Pummerin”. It was destroyed during World War Two when fire damaged the cathedral on April 12, 1945.

— The new Pummerin bell was cast from metal of the old Pummerin in 1951. It has a diameter of 3.14 m, a height of 2.94 m and weighs 21.3 tonnes. It is western Europe’s second-largest bell after one in Cologne Cathedral (Germany). Of the eight bells in Cologne, the St Peter’s Bell is the largest freely swinging church bell in the world at 24 tonnes.


— The South West tower houses Great Paul, the largest bell in the British Isles, which weighs 16.8 tonnes.

— In the cathedral’s North West Tower, there are 12 bells hung for traditional Change Ringing, which is based on numerical principles. Each bell is given a number or letter (1-12) and a change is a sequence of these numbers where each bell rings once.


— Big Ben is the bell inside St Stephen’s clock tower attached to the Houses of Parliament, famous for its tune and the clock faces surrounding it. Its chime is the sound that ushers in New Year in BBC broadcasts across the world.

— The name Big Ben was first given to a 14.5-tonne hour bell, cast in April 1856 and mounted elsewhere as the tower was not yet finished, but it cracked under the hammer.

— Its metal was recast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry as a 13.8 tonne, 2.2 metre high bell which is in use today and was mounted in the tower in 1859 alongside four quarter-hour bells.


— The south tower houses the large bell “Emmanuel”, weighing 13 tonnes. The clapper alone weighs 500 kg.

— Emmanuel is Notre-Dame’s oldest bell: it is said that when it was recast in 1631, women threw their jewellery into the metal, giving the bell its unique, pure tone.


— The shipyard Baltiisky Zavod was entrusted with making the modern Tsar Bell. At 72 tonnes it is Russia’s largest ringing bell. In 2004 it was lifted into the country’s tallest bell tower, the tower at the Trinity St. Sergius monastery in the Moscow region town of Sergiyev Posad.

— The 4.5 metre bell resembles that of the Kremlin’s Tsar Bell made in 1748 and destroyed during Stalin’s campaign against religion in 1930.

Sources: Reuters/Church websites/www.icons.org

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