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Friday, December 12, 2008

Prague. The Silence of the Bells. St. Vitus; Church of our Lady Before Tyn

The Fate of Prague's Bells
Except for Zikmund

Prague, Charles Bridge, view toward St. Vitus Cathedral

1.  The bells are taken.

Petr writes: "*** You can't hear any bells ringing at all, because the Germans have confiscated them all; they will probably make cannons out of them. They left only Sikmund of St. Vitus and that's the only church bell in Prague now." Diary at 94.

There, on the hill, are the towers of St. Vitus, across the Charles Bridge that spans the Vltava River, at Prague Castle.

Petr watched the numbers rise: first, 82-100. Page 92. At least 2000 bells later, filling the Maniny sewer.


Prague, Cathedral of Our Lady Before Tyn

At page 95, Peter records that they were taking the bell out of Tyn Cathedral, shown here, and he watched how they removed the bells from 92 Strossmayer Place.

The bell at the Cathedral of Our Lady Before Tyn, shown here at the Old Square, was not spared.

See the history of this Cathedral at www.pragueexperience.com/places.asp?PlaceID=595; and prague.net/church-of-our-lady-before-the-tyn.


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2. But Zikmund is spared. 

Page 97. the Zikmund Bell and St. Vitus in photos at www.prague.net/gallery/st-vitus-cathedral/. Scroll down to the last row for the bell.

No wonder the fate of Bell Zikmund was important to Petr and Prague. It is the biggest bell in Prague, and maybe the Czech Republic, and was made in 1549. See www.prague.net/st-vitus-cathedral. At that site, click on the"South Side" paragraph, and then on Zikmund to see a close-up of the bell.

This site - with much history in it - says that it is the largest bell in Central Europe, and weighs 16 tons. See prague.tv/articles/zine/brokenheart. Rename it Tennessee Ern?

A summary history is at www.prague.net/bell-tower, including legends: with a princess, Wenceslas and more. Silencing it means national tragedy.

In 2002, the clapper broke, and sure enough terrible floods came. Others saw the broken clapper as related to the outcome of recent elections, where the Communist party gained. Read about the break and repair at www.radio.cz/en/article/32859.

The name "Zikmund," by which the huge bell at St. Vitus is known, is said to mean "guardian of the victory" in the Czech language, and is of German origin. See www.behindthename.com/submit/view.php?name=zikmund. Was it saved from destruction by the Germans by its germanic name? Or just because it was humungous?
Petr says at page 95 that the bells were dumped at Maniny, and this area was finally one of the only places that Jews were allowed to walk. See page 103. This is a sewer-landfill area. He says the sewer was filling up there. Page 63. Search in Images for Maniny to see how it looks today, and for a map.

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