Following a charity auction this week at the Jara Cimrman Theatre in Žižkov, the Charter 77 Foundation has collected the money it needs to cast the “Václav” bell, a tribute to former Czech President Václav Havel, which will reportedly ring from the Church of St. Havel in Prague’s Old Town later next year.
At 100 cm wide, 100 cm tall, and weighing in at around 800 kg, the bell is being designed by Olgoj Chorchoj in cooperation with graphic artist Aleš Najbrt and visual artist Jana Bačová Kroftová. It will be cast at the Grassmayr bell works in Innsbruck.
The organization’s website reports production costs to be roughly 850,000 CZK; prior to the auction—which sold 13 bells said to have passed through the hands of Havel’s famous friends and family—the amount of funds raised was listed at 808,000 CZK. An estimated 200,000 CZK was raised at the auction.
As of 1507, the original Prague bell rang from the tower of the Church of St. Havel on Havelská street. It remained there until 1916, when it was requisitioned for military purposes.
Between the World Wars, a new bell was cast, but it was requisitioned once again in 1942, this time by Germany’s Wehrmacht. Since that time, the space in the tower has remained empty.
This October would have been the 80th birthday of the Czech leader, and it will be five years this December since his passing.
“To remember these events, we have decided to arrange a public donation, the aim of which will be to produce the missing bell for the Church of St. Havel,” said a spokesperson for the Zvon Václav project.
The new bell will bear an inscription marking the 80th anniversary of the birth of Václav Havel.
Additional bells will be auctioned on December 18 at the National Theatre; another auction will take place on March 5. Proceeds go to the casting of the bell with the remaining money collected to be used for the Václav Havel Prize.
A map showing the path of the bells that are up for auction can be seen here.