of the imperial Habsburg family. Its castle grounds are considerated to be a showpiece as far as it concerns the horticulture of the 18th/19th century. It was empress Maria Theresa together with her grand-son, emperor Franz who were responsible for the expansion of the park. The gardens are decorated in a lovely and fanciful way... WEEKEND REFLECTIONS
Remember the famous Big Ben's chime? In Krakow you can see, and actually even touch, an equal of the London bell of the Houses of Parliament. Huge Zygmunt (Sigismund) bell,is nearly 9 feet across too. At the same time Krakow’s Big Sig is a third heavier, weighing 18 metric tons. It is also some 350 years older than its English counterpart, having been cast in Krakow in 1520.
The giant which ranks among the world's largest bells is one of the many attractions of the Wawel Cathedralin Krakow. It's decorated with reliefs of St. Stanislav and St. Sigismund as well as the arms of Poland and Lithuania. It was donated to the Wawel Cathedral by Sigismund I the Old, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, when Krakow was the Polish capital. "Big Sig" still is where it was hung in 1521, i.e. at the top of a 14th-century tower turned into the Cathedral's belfry near the Wawel Royal Castle.
The beautifully deep toll of the huge Sigismund Bell is heard far away on important Church holidays and at the historic moments for the nation. And it needs the strength of ten men to ring the giant bell every Christmas, New Year Day or Easter Sunday.
It is needed to climb several flights of stairs of the 81 m highttower in order to see the famous Zygmunt and, usually, touch its 660-pound clapper. They say the wish then whispered is to materialize soon. Also the view of Krakow from the belfry seems worthwhile.