Hejnał mariacki

Everyone in the Polish city of Krakow knows the Hejnał mariacki ("St. Mary's dawn"). This simple tune is sort of city hymn. It can be heard every hour from the highest tower of St. Mary's Church (“Kościół mariacki”). Each time a trumpeter repeats the tune four times. This lovely tradition was first mentioned in local financial document made in 1392.

St. Mary's Church in Krakow
St. Mary's Church in Krakow

Like so many other traditions this one has a popular legend about its origin. In 1241 Mongols invaded Poland. The Mongol soldiers started approaching Krakow. The guard located in the tower of Saint Mary's Church warned the citizens by playing the Hejnał tune. It was done just in time to close the city gates. While performing the tune guard was shot in the neck. He was not able to finish the tune. That is why all the performers of the tune finish it before its real end.

The tradition of Hejnał mariacki was brought back to life in 1810. First it was performed at dawn and dusk. Later the noon was added. The 24 hours performance of the tune that exists today can also be heard live on the Polish national radio.