History and mystery in Vilnius Cathedral Square: Bell Tower

Monika Grinevičiūtė | Live the World

November 23, 2022

All the cities in the world have some interesting stories and legends from the past. And Vilnius is no exception. When walking down the half empty streets in the late evening or early morning, sometimes you can feel that this city has much more to tell than just the things you can actually see. The capital city of Lithuania has strong and difficult past, and looking through the windows of the old houses in the Old Town, you can feel it. Almost every corner and old house in Vilnius has some history and sometimes even mystery. This time, let’s talk about Vilnius Cathedral Square and the Bell Tower which is standing there from the 13th century, the Tower which was a part of the Vilnius defensive wall.

Picture © Credits to laurynasn

The Belfry

The Bell Tower is an important object of the Vilnius Archcathedral Basilica - standing there from the 13th century. The Bell Tower went through all the hard times of the history of Vilnius. The belfry was suffering from the fires and wars. Today, you can see the damaged bricks and blackened stones, that mark a difficult history of the tower. From the beginning, the tower was a part of the Vilnius defensive wall. Later on, in the 16th century, the tower was turned into a belfry of the Vilnius Cathedral. The height of the belfry is 57 meters, and visitors can climb to the top floor of the tower (50 meters) and enjoy the stunning views of Vilnius.

Picture © Credits to nihmar

The Bells

The sound of bells in belfry is as unforgettable as the history of those bells. Nobody knows exactly where the bells were created, but there are some stories saying that they came from Germany and the Netherlands. The most famous bells molder in Vilnius was Jonas Delamarsas, and some people were staying that the bells created by Jonas were the strongest and very melodious. As Vilnius sometimes was the epicenter of the historical wings, and as the belfry was suffering from the fires and wars, the bells were stolen or melted. During the World War II, the Bell Tower was left alone and silent - all bells were stolen. Nowadays, the bell tower has six bells, and their weights vary from 475 to 2500 kilograms.

Picture © Credits to Ryhor Bruyeu

The clock

The clock of the tower started to work on the 12th of October, almost 346 years ago. The clock is hanging from 1672, which means that the Vilnius clock is older than the famous Big Ben clock in London! Looking back to the beginning of the clock history, at that time the minutes were not so important for Vilnius people, so that’s why the clock does not have the minute arrow. The only arrow of the clock shows only the hours, and for the minutes you need to listen very carefully because the bells are ringing every quarter - if it is 15 minutes, the bell will sound once, for 30 minutes twice, for 45 minutes three times, and when the hours are changing - 4 times. Also, one more important thing - the clock arrown has a small moon figure at the end, from the times when the clocks also were showing the phases of moon. If you climb up all the stairs to the bell tower, you still can see the old parts of the mechanism of the clock as well as the small bench, on which long times ago the clockmaker was sitting.

Picture © Credits to Birute

There are dozens of various stories and legends about the Bell Tower, but for me, the most lovely one is the story about the bells molder Jonas Delamarsas, whose bells were the best in all country because of a small secret. He was so in love with his wife, that in all the bells he melted one hair of his wife, and because of their strong love, the bells was the best in the whole country. One more thing - near the Bell Tower, you can find the “magic tile” you just need to stand on, make a wish and spin there three times. The biggest mystery is that it works!

So, do not forget to look around Vilnius Bell Tower in the Cathedral Square, with its bells and the clock, as they will make you feel all the history and mystery behind. Do not forget that the views from this tower are unforgettable, thus, if you are looking for the best place to take pictures of Vilnius - this is the spot.

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