Krakow Trumpet Call of St Mary’s. Where and When to Hear Mariakyrkan Song?

Krakow is famous for its many symbols. One of them is the trumpet call from St. Mary’s Tower. Where can you hear the trumpet-call from St. Mary’s Tower in Krakow? When is the trumpet-call called Hejnał? Why does the trumpet-call from St. Mary’s Tower suddenly stop? Today we check the history and legends related to one of the most famous melodies in Poland!

If you ever decide to hire a guide to Krakow, walking around the Main Square in Krakow you will probably hear a story about the St. Mary’s trumpet-caller in Krakow.

The story told by the guides says that during the Tartar invasion of Kraków, the heynallist sitting on the highest tower in the city wanted to warn the inhabitants of Kraków about the approaching army so that they would have time to close the gates. According to the legend, the melody of the trumpet-call stops suddenly because the bugler was hit by an arrow before playing the whole melody.

Of course, this is just a silly legend that has nothing to do with reality. The story is not even old – it was invented in the 20th century. The only grain of truth is that the hejnał has been played in Krakow for many years, and bugles in old cities were supposed to mark the moment of opening and closing the city gates.

The Hejnał Mariacki (trumpet-call), as the name suggests, is a melody played from the St. Mary’s Tower, the southern tower of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary located at the Krakow’s Main Market Square. The bugle call is played by a fireman from the polish State Fire Service. Specially trained trumpet-callers (called hejnaliści) are on duty on the tower everyday for as long as 24 hours.

The Kraków bugle-call has been played to all four corners of the world since 13 February 1838. Initially it was played only at 12:00 pm so that the inhabitants of Krakow who do not have clocks at home would know what time it is.

Currently the melody, which is one of the symbols of Krakow, is played from the higher tower of St. Mary’s Basilica every hour around the clock. The trumpet-call is played four times – once for each side of the world. It is customary that it starts from the direction of Wawel Castle „for the king” (although no bugler played for the king, when the bugle-call started to be played periodically in Krakow the city was under Austrian occupation), then for councilors towards the Market Square, then for visitors towards Floriańska Gate, and finally for the chief of the fire brigade (towards the municipal fire brigade headquarters at 19 Westerplatte Street).

The bugle call at 12 pm has also been broadcast on Polish Radio for many years. Now on the radio a recording of the call is played.

If you want to listen to the famous melody in Kraków it is best to stand between the Cloth Hall and St. Mary’s Basilica a moment before the full hour and wait. The trumpet-call from St. Mary’s Basilica is best heard from the Main Market Square in Krakow, but as the trumpeter play it also on the other three sides, it can be heard well throughout the Old Town, for example on Floriańska Street or on Mały Rynek (Little Market Square).

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