Wednesday, May 22, 2019

SearchResearch Challenge (5/22/19): Why do I hear a trumpet?

They say that travel broadens the mind... 

... and sets you up for some pretty remarkable surprises.  

This week's Challenge is a fun one, and will test your ability to sleuth out the backstory.  Can you do it? 

I was walking down the street when I heard an odd trumpet tune being played.  It was a surprising tune--not quite a melody, but something puzzling and a little odd.  

Here's the picture I snapped as I listened to the trumpet call.  (And the link to the full-resolution image.) 

This mystery melody only took me a few moments to figure out...  Can you determine what it is, and WHY it is?  

1.  Challenge:  Why did I hear a trumpet at this place?  Why is the melody so strangely plaintive?  What's the story behind the this tune?  

That's all for this week--this is a good one--not terribly difficult, but a bit of a surprise!  

Once you figure it out, be sure to let us know HOW you did it!  

Search on!  

-- -- -- -- -- 
My new book is now available on Amazon for pre-order: 

The Joy of Search:  A Google Insider's Guide to Going Beyond the Basics 


  1. Nice challenge!

    On the full-resolution, I noticed what I thought to be a loudspeaker on a window, and soon found out it is actually a trumpet's bell.

    On that large image, I used both image reverse Chrome extensions I have installed — TinEye and Google Search by Image — but I only needed TinEye. The first result took me to a Russian photo album on a personal blog on some kind of wiki tourist website named Туристер ( I scrolled down until I found the first photo of this church. Its caption reads "Мариацкий костёл и краковский трубач в первом окне от крыши." Another Chrome extension I often use, Google Translate, tells me this means "St. Mary's Church and the Kraków trumpeter in the first window from the roof." I can't see any trumpeter on the photo but I'm sure I'm on the right track.

    [ Kraków trumpeter ] takes me to the Wikipedia article on St. Mary's Trumpet Call. The reading is quite interesting. In the end, the article links to a YouTube video with a performance of this hymn seen from the inside of the church's tower (starting at 0:44).

  2. Bing image search instantly finds: In Krakow, Poland.

    Which down the page and over the fold explains the trumpet: Every hour, on the hour, a trumpeter plays the hejnal mariacki. The tune is abruptly ended in accordance with legend. During the Mongol invasion (believed to be 1241), the bugler sounded the alarm to close the city gates, thereby alerting the city to invasion and protecting it. Before he could finish the tune, a Mongol archer shot him in the throat. Krakow keeps this tradition alive to this day, and tourists and citizens alike gather to listen outside the tower.

    Fun Challenge. Thanks for this.

  3. the video is explained thusly: Hejna? Mariacki -- melodia grana co godzin? z Wie?y Mariackiej ko?cio?a Naj?wi?tszej Marii Panny w Krakowie przez tr?bacza. Raz dziennie, w po?udnie, jest transmitowana przez Program I PR na ca?y ?wiat.

    Well, I thought so.

    Translate offers up Hejna? Mariacki - melody played every hour from the St. Mary's Tower of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Kraków by a trumpeter. Once a day, at noon, it is broadcast by the I PR Program to the whole world.

  4. I like this sort of challenge as it's not as big a work distraction as some. It took no more than 5 minutes to solve. (I hope). It took longer to write the answer down :(

    First step: identify where you are. So copy the image and use Bing Image search to paste in the picture. (I wish Google Image search did this.... maybe one day). I quickly found other pictures of Krakow main square and St Mary's Church. So that means you are in Krakow, Poland.

    Next step: Use search terms: trumpet krakow "main square" (done on Bing as I'm already on Bing).
    First result is: Krakow Trumpet Signal - Krakow info | Krakow in Poland
    Second result is: St. Mary's Trumpet Call - Wikipedia's_Trumpet_Call

    Read both of these. The first states:
    "Every full hour a golden trumpet shows above Krakow’s central Grand Square (Rynek Glowny) in the west window just below the spire of the higher tower of the Basilica of the Virgin Mary's. Then a characteristic signal trumpet melody, known and dear to every Pole, resounds all over the city’s Old Town historical district. All of a sudden music comes to an abrupt end. Next the same bugle call is played towards the east, the south and the north. At noon the whole ritual has been broadcast on the Polish national radio since the 1920s.
    The Krakow signal bugle call, or Hejnal Mariacki, dates back to the Middle Ages when it was announcing the opening and the closing of the city gates. The bugler also played it to alarm his fellow citizens whenever he saw a fire or the enemy forces. And the melody abrupt ending is said to commemorate a trumpeter from Krakow who was shot through his throat by a Tatar archer in 1241 when the Mongols besieged the city.

    So the origin is definitely a surprise - as it brings home how far into Europe the Mongol invasions reached. The Wikipedia entry repeats this - although not as clearly. It does however give more detail and history. It also gives a link to a YouTube video of the tune and the trumpeter playing the tune (surrounded by tourists). It shows the tower and surroundings too.

    The third link gives even more detail "The amazing story behind Krakow's Bugle Call":
    It's also the first link on Google - so perhaps I should have switched from Bing straight away to get the full story.

    (I always try and find multiple sources to make sure I've got it right - I think the 4 above clinch it).

  5. Interesting, thank you :-)

  6. Found the answer in a TripAdvisor Review, of all places. Used the simple search Google for image, then translated the page. Here's the review:
    If you are in Krakow it is a must to visit the Maria Church. You get an incredible tranquility inside the subdued atmosphere, although the church can be full of people.
    Fascinating story about the two brothers who were commissioned to build their own towers, making it a pure competition between them.
    One brother then killed the other in pure envy that he had gone further with the building. However, the surviving brother later fell from his "tower" and died. If he jumped or "just fell", the story says nothing about it, but you might say in good English that "The cheating turned out".
    The trumpet melody at 12 o'clock from the north tower also has a story. Known Polish tune "Hejnal" which is played all over the country at 12:00. However, it is cut off abruptly in the St. Mary's Church, in memory of the original trumpet-blower who played the melody to warn of a Mongolian attack, but suddenly got a Mongolian arrow in the neck so that the melody was cut. Since then, it has been played to that point every day.
    And here's the link to it:

  7. I did an image search and it matched a church in Krakow, although I got the church wrong, I thought it was St. Florian. However, when I searched St. Florian Church Krakow the right one came up. A fun search, just took a couple of minutes.

  8. Easely found the location with Google Photo. Also found a nice story on
    The Trumpeter of Krakow

    Straining his eyes, the old watchman looked out onto the horizon for a trace of the signal fire. But somehow, he felt that as had happened before, his fellow guards had retired to the warmth of home or lost the battle against sleep (no doubt aided by the rather excellent vodka that had been on sale at the Rynek of late). The black mass was still there, and again that rippling effect that had sparked the first shock of adrenalin. Dawn was breaking now, and resolved that he would not leave anything to chance, he scuttled up to the peak of the tower and began the trumpet call.

    As he did so the mass rippled again. But now it was moving forwards out of the mist. The warriors of Genghis Khan, having dined heartily off blood and sour milk, were now poised to attack. The mutterings of the one-eyed man had been true.

    For the old watchman there were now no more doubts. And with the adrenalin firing through his veins he redoubled his efforts, punching out the notes in staccato bursts. A face appeared at the window of the carpenters tower. It was Stas, a goodly fellow, and quickly grasping the seriousness of the situation, he leapt down the steps to wake up the rest of the guard. Meanwhile, the old watchman played on, hammering out the notes for all his worth. More faces were appearing now. Shutters opened down Florianska street, and a gradual hubbub began to take hold. The old watchman blew on.

    Away on the dewy meadows the Tartar warriors were mounting their horses and drawing their swords. But already the old watchman could see the Polish archers arriving: the King's own men. Now there was a chance!

    The archers took up their positions along the battlements. Some stood tall over the precipice whilst others crouched against the loopholes, steadying their bows at the approaching chargers. The wild yellow men were galloping through the mist now, their long moustaches twirling in the wind as they cried out the attack. But by now the arrows were flying. They hissed through the air, raining down on the hapless warriors in great waves. The horsemen rode on, but down came a second wave, and then a third. Victory was nigh! Three more waves fell and the Tartars were forced into retreat. Krakow was saved!

    Jubilation erupted amongst the men, and it was some time before the excitement died down. Yet the goodly carpenter Stas soon realized that something was amiss - his old friend the watchman was nowhere to be seen. So off he went in search of the trumpeter. However, when he reached the tower he found that disaster had struck - his dear friend had fallen. A single Tartar arrow had pierced the old watchman's neck and he had died in an instant. The trumpet was still clasped in his hands ready to blast out a final note.

    The Cracovians would never forget the act of the humble old watchman. Thus from henceforth it was decreed that a bugle call should be played each day in memory of the hero. And so it was, for hundreds of years the 'hejnal' has rung out over Krakow's rooftops for the noble watchman who saved the city.

    The hejnal of Krakow, which is played from the northern tower St. Mary's basilica, the city's ancient Gothic church, is amongst the most picturesque of Krakow's customs. It has continued almost without interruption for some seven hundred years.

    The hejnal is played each day, on the hour every hour, (regardless of time or season), from the north, south, east and west windows of the tower (to the four corners of the globe). The tradition is looked upon with affection by Cracovians and Poles alike, and since 1927, a recording of the melody has been played daily on Polish national radio.

    If you listen closely you will notice that the tune seems to stop suddenly in midnote. This is in keeping with the legend, when a noble watchman was struck down as he sounded the alarm.

  9. Location found by simply put the photo into Google Photo.
    Found nice story on

  10. doesn't seem overly threatening

    wiki: "Historical records show that the practise of playing the Hejnał has been cancelled and then later reinstated several times, with a particularly long gap before it was reinstated in 1810. TheHejnał Mariacki was replaced twice by the mourning song Łzy Matki (English: "The Tears of the Mother"). The first time was at noon on 3 April 2005, due to the death of Pope John Paul IIthe previous day, and the second at two minutes after noon on 11 April 2010 following the deaths of President Lech Kaczyński and his consort, Maria Kaczyńska"
    Łzy Matki (A Mother's Tears)

  11. a festive (black & white) interpretation of the towers/square: the towers - another tale of two brothers and relationships gone astray…
    official website
    'Bugle Call Tower or the Excubiarum Watchtower'/ The (shorter) bell tower - includes the THE LEGEND OF TWO BROTHERS
    the archer wasn't the only source of spilled blood at the site - earlier, before the bugle/trumpet blood…
    "On the day of consecration, he climbed to the top of his tower holding the knife he used to murder his brother. He publicly confessed to the murder and jumped.
    The murderer’s knife hangs in the gate of the Cloth Hall in the Main Square to this day to remind us of these tragic events."

    the alt version:
    "A different version of the legend says that, after the murder of the older brother, the south tower was completed by supernatural forces before the younger brother, who lost his balance in fear and fell off the scaffolding to his death."
    the knife (or replacement for the stolen original… also an ear remover - Magdeburg Law)

    fwiw - another famous Cracovian… this church appears to be where he performed his first mass (see no. 3, with pic… similar tower construction - imo)
    Archbishop of Krakow, on the road to Vatican City
    Sigismund Bell
    nearby — The Wawel Royal Cathedral of St Stanislaus B. M. and St Wenceslaus M.