I don’t live far from the Grassmayr Bell Foundry, but it never really caught my eye until recently. I was visiting Stefansdom in Vienna and there was a plaque mounted on the wall that said that the massive bell at Stefansdom was made right here in Innsbruck by Grassmayr! Then I started to find out that Grassmayr also made several bells all over Europe in various other prominent churches and buildings, I had to check it out! It is easy to walk or drive by the Grassmayr Bell Foundry and not really take notice. Besides the fact that it is a yellow building, there is not too much flashy about it, and being on the hustling-bustling busy street that it is, it doesn’t stand out.
Rings a Bell…
Grassmayr Bell Foundry dates back to 1599, and is one of the last surviving foundries in Europe. Amazing as that is, the same family has run it since then. They make every kind of bell big or small, from church bells to orchestra bells, to cow bells and you can visit the museum/foundry in Innsbruck to see just how they are all made. Depending on when you visit you may be able to see them casting a bell, there is a six meter deep pit inside where they can cast the bells, allowing for a weight of up to 37 tons!
Chime in yourself!
Inside the museum, there is a section they call the sound studio, which I imagine would be perfect for kids visiting the museum as there are a bunch of bells and mallets and you can whack away to your heart’s content. There are diagrams telling you how to determine the tone of a bell, and a wall of bells with different sizes to show the different tones possible. There is even a rather large bell flipped upside down and filled with water that you can whack with a mallet and not only see the ripples, but also stick your finger in and feel the vibrations of the ring. Kind of a neat idea!
Through the back of the museum, you enter an outdoor garden filled with bells all ranging in size. Walking around the garden make sure you read the plaques, I thought it was pretty neat to see the casting date of all the bells. Some on display dated all the way back to the 1500’s!
Book your visit – cast a bell
This museum and foundry is not an all day affair but it is something that the kids, and the whole family, could enjoy. It would be a short detour as you made your way up the mountain towards the ski jump/Tirol Panorama, or as you made your way to visit the basilica in Wilten (all close by). It is a small museum but can be entertaining considering the sound studio and actually being able to see a bell being cast. I highly recommend that you ask for the guided tour, which comes in a variety of different languages. It’s extremely helpful as the bell museum has so many bells it’s easy to get a little bit lost and confused. Maybe even call in advance and see if you can find a time where a bell is being cast, that is definitely an experience!
All Photos : © Laura Wunsch