About The Project

The Sigismund Bell was cast in Kraków in 1520. It was founded by the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund I the Old, who reigned in the years 1507-1548, and made by a bellfounder from Nuremberg, Hans (Johannes) Beham. The bell, which sounded for the first time on 13 July 1521, had been hung four days earlier in the specially erected old defence tower of Wawel Royal Castle, known as the Sigismund Tower. This event inspired Jan Matejko to paint a picture entitled “The Hanging of the Sigismund Bell”. On the left side of the canvas, the artist depicted the royal family surrounded by courtiers and dignitaries: King Sigismund I the Old, Queen Bona of the Italian Sforza family and their son, Sigismund  Augustus. In the painting, he is a boy of several years, although at the time the future king was less than a year old. In the middle of the painting, Matejko placed Bishop of Kraków Jan Chojeński, who consecrated the bell, and on the right-hand side, Hans Beham conducting the workers. Born around 1480 in Nuremberg, the bellfounder was the son of blacksmith Hans Beham the Elder. He arrived in Kraków probably in 1518 and after the casting of the Sigismund Bell he was accepted into the royal service as the foundry supervisor and the head of the arsenal. He remained at the court until his death, probably in 1533. The whole operation of hanging the bell is observed by artists: Valentin Bakfark, a famous lutenist from Transylvania, and Bartolomeo Berrecci, an Italian sculptor and architect whom Sigismund I the Old employed to rebuild the Wawel Royal Castle.


9-13 | 07 | 2021


17 | 07 | 2021

History of the Sigismund Bell

The year 2021 marks the 500th anniversary of the hanging of the Sigismund Bell (“Zygmunt”) on the Wawel Cathedral tower. This anniversary is worth noting not only because it is the largest...

Sigismund Bell in Art and Literature

After the loss of Poland’s independence, during the existence of the Free City of Cracow (1815-1846), Kraków began to be perceived by Poles in all annexed territories as...