PORT ELIZABETH – The bells of Port Elizabeth’s revamped iconic landmark, the Campanile, will be ringing in a whole new sound from Wednesday.

The bells have been programmed to play the national anthem.

But, over the next few months, several composers from diverse cultural groups will be working on new songs to ring out across the bay.



After a year of silence, the bells will ring out once again in pride after the decaying Campanile received a R20-million facelift.  

After years of decay, the Campanile received a R20-million facelift.

It includes a 23-bell carillon weighing 17 tons, with a special, computerised, purpose-built, electro-mechanical, bell-ringing system that is connected to LED lights.

” We also added on the fifth floor the so-called ghost bells. They are real sized replicas in perspective of the bells. There is a stainless steel keyboard so if you press a key it lights up in LEDs. Even if the real bells play, you see the bells light up,” said Albrecht Herholdt from The Matrix Urban Designers and Architects.

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Built in 1923, the Nelson Mandela Bay was known as the City of Bells by visiting sailors.

The clock tower may look the same, but the tunes are a far cry from those experienced over 90 years ago.

“So because the system is computerized you can load any music that can be played by a slow playing instrument like a carillon. You can load any music and have that played hence, the thought you can play the national anthem of any ship or passenger liner that comes in”, said Mandela Bay Development Agency, Dorelle Sapere.

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The clock tower is at the start of the City’s iconic Route 67, which is an urban meander dedicated to Nelson Mandela.

“The Campanile 54 metres high has a chiming clock the largest of bells in the country it now offers a lift to assist the disabled, a welcome alternative to climbing 204 steps to the observation room with a magnificent 360-degree view of harbour and surroundings,” said Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor, Athol Trollip.

The municipality called on all local musicians from diverse cultural backgrounds to compose new songs for the revamped Campanile.

The city believes this will help promote arts and culture during heritage month.