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Legends of Kraków: St. Mary's Church - The Hejnal

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dearest hearts,

Krakow is a magical city filled with legends at each and every footstep. All you need to do is listen to its stories with an open heart and its beauties will unfold. This takes time and takes commitment also from your side ;)  Nowdays people - when they travel - they do it absent mindedly. They focus on the main points of interest in the city, they stand in lines to buy tickets to the "must see"places, they take picture after picture after picture... and they do not enjoy the environment, they do not breathe in the true nature of the place they visit. Most of the times they just go through the "city break"without truly learning something. I, for one, love the legends and stories and myths connected to each place I visit. I wonder and I ask questions... I am that person in the group that always has to stand up and ask the embarassing/awkward/weird questions - that's me! That's why I know so many legends and stories about Krakow - like the one about Kosciol Mariacki and the 2 brothers. Well today I will tell you another story, also related to Kosciol Mariacki - St. Mary's Church in Krakow. 
If you ever visited Krakow than you must have heard the bugle call from the top of St. Mary's Church - the central church in the Main Market Square. You must have seen crowds gathering every hour to catch a glimpse of the golden trumpet that comes out of the most upper windows of the tallest tower. It first plays its song on the West window followed by the East, South and North. At noon the signal is always broadcasted by the national Polish radio station, ever since the 1920s. It's a sound that the Krakowians love and know by heart! 
It is said that the broken signal dates from the Middle Ages, when it would signal the opening and closing of the city gates - the tower gives a perfect view of the Florianska street and Florianska Gate leading further on to the Barbakan (the main entrance to the city, through its defence walls). The bugler on top of the tower would also play the song in case of fire or enemy attack. The song of the bugle that ends so abruptly is - it is said - due to a trumpeteer that lost its life during a mongol attack in 1241. It is said that an arrow pierced his throat while he was singing the warning alarm. This "celebration" of the trumpeteers bravery - the song being played on top of the St. Mary Church, in the higher tower - was done almost without any interruption for over 700 years! The Hejnal is played daily, each and every hour, by one of the fireman standing there on 12 hours shifts! They play it no matter the weather or any other circumstances and it is considered good luck if you wave to him and if he waves back ;) 

Interesting Facts: 
1) During the Second World War, a bugler from the 2nd Polish Corps played the tune to announce the Polish victory in the Battle of Monte Cassino on 18 May 1944. 
2) The longest-serving trumpeter was Adolf Śmietana, who played the Hejnał for 36 years beginning in 1926. The Kołton family has played the Hejnał for three consecutive generations. In October 2004, Jan Kołton retired after 33 years of service at the tower. His father had been a Hejnał bugler for 35 years previously, while his son is one of the four current buglers.

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves Kraków and it's legends and stories