Pretiosa

Facts

Cast: 1448 in Cologne

Bell-founder: Heinrich Brodermann und Christian Cloit

 

Diameter: 240 cm

Weight: 10,500 kg

Strike note: G3

In 1418, a huge bell in B weighing around 3,400 kg was cast in Cologne in honour of the Magi. Before being moved to the South tower in 1437, the bell was hung in a bell cage next to the cathedral. In 1448, the 10,000-kg Pretiosa (meaning ‘precious one’) in G was cast. At the time, Pretiosa was the largest bell in the western world. Together these bells made a G-major chord. Surprisingly, one year later the 4,300-kg Speciosa (meaning ‘beautiful one’) was cast with the note A, the note between G and B. This was probably the first diatonic peal of its kind. The attraction of this peal lay not in a chord, but in a melody. Despite the fact that it comprised only three bells, Cologne Cathedral’s late Gothic peal was the most famous in Europe right up until the nineteenth century. While the two larger bells are still in use, the Magi bell had to be recast with the same note in 1693, 1682, and 1880.