Europe's Age-Old Bells

The Christmas season presents an excellent opportunity to sample the awe-inspiring sounds of church bells throughout Europe. This age-old tradition dates back as far as 400 AD. Each cathedral and city seems to have its own unique bell sound. Learn about the history of bell ringing here and for further listening, go to this episode of Karl Haas’s Adventures in Good Music.


Let’s start with eight of the eleven mighty bells of Cologne Cathedral in Germany. Four of the bells were cast and installed in the 1400s. The 24 ton St. Petersglocke is the largest free swinging bell in the world. Listen to the deep, rich sound which is slowly built up as new bells begin to ring. Around 1:56 you can hear what I’m guessing is the enormous St. Petersglocke:


Now we’ll go to the German city of Fulda. This clip begins with a single bell ringing and ends with the sound of all ten bells of the Fulda Cathedral:


Here are the bells of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium. This Gothic cathedral was consecrated in 1521:


…and here are the deep tones of the bells of St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. Listen to the amazing sound of the larger, lower bells which gradually begin to ring:


Now, let’s go to Italy to hear the seven bells of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, which dominates the city skyline, was completed in 1461. Exceeding the dome of the Pantheon in Rome, it was a great engineering feat as well as a powerful architectural statement:

England’s Unique Sound

Come back tomorrow and hear a completely different style of bell ringing from England, known as change ringing.

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2 Responses to Europe's Age-Old Bells

  1. karen titus December 18, 2013 at 7:18 am #

    Timothy – love your blog. Do you teach private lessons in the Richmond area? tks!

    • Timothy Judd December 18, 2013 at 9:08 am #

      Thank you, Karen. I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts. I do have a private studio in Richmond. You can go to the lessons page for more information.

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