The Pealing of the Bells takes place 4 times a year. At this time, 50 bells from 10 of the downtown churches will ring together for 30 minutes. This is 70 tons of metal ringing madly, but amazingly all in harmony. Frankfurt has been holding this unique event since 1954, though city chronicles state that it has been happening in a similar form since 1347, in connection with the election of the Emperor here in Frankfurt.
Dates – the 1st Advent Saturday, Christmas Eve at 17:00, the day before Easter, and the day before Pfingsten (Pentecost).
It is a lot of fun to be there and walk around the old town of Frankfurt to hear the difference in the sound of the bells. Since they are ringing for 30 minutes, you can walk over to the Pauls Kirche, stand in the Römerberg, walk over up to the Kaiserdom, head towards Liebfrauen Kirche, the Hauptwache & the Katherine Kirche, or even up on the Eisener Steg Bridge. The bells sound very different in each spot. My favorite spot is directly on the Römerberg. You hear the bells from the Kaiserdom, the Alte Nikolai, the Paulskirche and the Liebfrauen Kirche pretty well here. Though I have gone up on the Eisener steg to hear the bells from the Drei König Church and St. Leonhard’s Church, it wasn’t my favorite spot. Some folks like it though, as it does sound different and seems to resonate off of the water a bit. The bells are not just rung randomly, but the music was created expressly for this event in 1954 so that they harmonize with each other.
It starts with 1 bell of the Paulskirche, then adds in the other 5 bells here. This is followed by the 4 bells of the Katharinen Church on the Hauptwache, then the 5 bells in the Liebfrauenkirche. The 3 bells in the Karmeliter Cloister, the 6 bells in the Leonhardskirche, 4 bells of the Alte Nikolai, 4 bells from St. Peterskirche, 3 from the Dominkaner Cloister, and 5 from the 3 Kings church on the Sachsenhausen side of the Main all chime in. The highpoint is when 9 of the bells in the Kaiserdom join in, especially Gloriosa. She is 2.5m tall and weighs 11,950kg. She is the 2nd largest bell in Germany and barely escaped being melted down in WW2. Together, these 50 bells weigh over 64,000 kg.
The Pealing of the Bells on Christmas Eve is a Frankfurt tradition when 1000’s of people gather on the Römer to hear the bells. On the 24th, the bells begin ringing at 17:00. Small vending stands will be selling hot, spiced Glühwein, but many people bring thermoses of hot chocolate or their own Glühwein. Many people go to nativity plays at the various downtown churches earlier in the afternoon, or plan on going to services after the bells ring.
This is just one of the special events that make our city unique, and during a “Frankfurt on Foot Walking Tour,” you will hear more fascinating stories about the bells of Frankfurt.