St. Petersglocke

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Petersglocke, with person for scale

Saint Peter's bell (orig. German: St. Petersglocke,[1] referred to in the Colognian language as Decke or Dekke Pitter[2] and in common parlance as Dicker Pitter[3] i.e. Fat or Big Peter) is the largest bell in Cologne Cathedral. It was cast in 1923 by Heinrich Ulrich in Apolda and hangs in the belfry of the south tower. With a weight of approximately 24,000 kg, a clapper weighing ~700 kg and a diameter of 322 cm, it is the largest (horizontally mounted) freely swinging ringable bell in the world.

When the bell was cast in 1923, the bell-founder refused to take German marks as a payment because of the hyper-inflation. Instead the Cathedral Chapter paid 5000 US dollars. The predecessor of the bell was the Emperor's Bell (orig. German: Kaiserglocke) or Gloriosa (Glorious) of 1873 which at 27,180 kg was even heavier than the St. Peter's bell. In 1918 it was melted down, because of the poor sound quality and the inadequate tone. Its metal was used for war purposes. During its thirty year life it had regurlarly been put out of service to attempt to fix the inappropriate sound. Because of this the bell was nicknamed „Große Schweigerin“ or in english: big silence.

The crack[edit]

In 1951, a 110 cm long crack appeared on the bell. It was welded in 1956 by the company Lachenmeyer from Nördlingen. After repairs, the bell received a new, lighter clapper (approx. 800 kg), and it was rotated approximately 20 degrees so that the clapper did not strike the damaged area.

The broken clapper[edit]

On January 6th, 2011, the approximately 800 kg clapper of the bell broke and dropped on the floor below. As it could not be repaired, a new one was cast and was installed in December of the same year. It was later discovered that the accident happened because the clapper had not been correctly installed in the 1950s, thus increasing wear, which consequently led to material degradation. The new clapper weighs approx. 600 kg and is 3.20 m long. It was installed on December 2nd, 2011 and was first rung on December 7th, 2011.

Other bells[edit]

Manufactured over 560 years ago the Pretiosa (Precious) bell is one of the oldest Christian church bells and is the number two bell in the belfry of the south tower of Cologne cathedral. It was cast in 1448 by Christian Cloit and Heinrich Brodermann in Cologne.



  1. ^ German pronunciation: [ˌzaŋkʰtʰ.ˈpʰeːtʰɐs.ˌɡlɔkʰə]
  2. ^ [ˌdekə.ˈpitˑɐ]
  3. ^ Rhinelandic regiolectal pronunciation [ˈdɪkɐ.ˈpɪtɐ]

Coordinates: 50°56′28″N 6°57′26″E / 50.9411°N 6.9573°E / 50.9411; 6.9573