Bell Tower Ivan the Great
Bell Tower. On the site of the modern building of the Annunciation Cathedral, built in 1485-1489, at least two churches in succession existed in an earlier period, one of which was erected at the end of the 14th century, the other, significantly increased in size, in 1416. These were single-domed churches, standing on a high basement, where the prince’s treasury was kept. It has been preserved in the structure of the current cathedral. During its repair and restoration, details of the architectural decor of the 1416 temple were discovered. Some of them can be seen in one of the showcases on the ground floor of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, where an exposition dedicated to the earliest buildings on the territory of the Moscow Kremlin is displayed.
Of interest is a rectangular white-stone block with a relief floral ornament executed by an unknown ancient Russian carver on the front side. It consists of palmettes and stylized lotus flowers, intertwined with stems diverging in different directions. By analogy with the surviving stone temples of the same time located in Moscow and its environs, it is assumed that this detail could have been part of the horizontal frieze that encircled the building. It consisted of three parts: in the upper part there was a curb, under it there was a row of niches with multi-blade keeled ends, the last, third, tier consisted of white stone slabs with ornaments presented in this block.
On the second floor of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, you can now see a unique monument of the 15th century – a plate with an inscription in Latin, which once adorned the Spasskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin from the side of Red Square. The caption reads: “loannes Vasilii, Dei Gratia Magnus Dux Volodimeriae, Moscoviae, Novogorodiae, Tferiae, Plescoviae, Vetigiae, Ongariae, Permiae, Buolgariae, Et Alias Totiusque Raxie Dominuitus Anno 30 Imperde Sui Has Turres Antonius Anno Nativitatis Domini 1491. Kalendis Martiis Imposuit.
One of those immortalized in this inscription is the Grand Duke of Moscow Ivan III Vasilyevich, as he was sometimes called, the Sovereign of All Russia, who destroyed the hated yoke of the Golden Horde and subjugated vast territories that belonged to Novgorod the Great, the lands of the Tver principality, the eternal rival of Moscow, and many others … He can rightfully be called the founder of a unified Russian state with its center in Moscow. Another is the Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solari, who came from a family of Milanese architects and sculptors who came from Piedmont. His father and grandfather led the construction of the Milan Cathedral. He also took part in it and built a lot in the city (some of his creations have survived to this day).
Solari arrived in Moscow in 1490, where he soon became, according to him, the chief architect of the Grand Duke. The master was mainly engaged in the construction of the walls and towers of the Kremlin, including Borovitskaya, Konstantino-Yeleninskaya, Frolovskaya (Spasskaya), Nikolskaya, Sobakina (Uglovaya Arsenalnaya), and, most likely, Senate and Beklemishevskaya (Moskvoretskaya) towers. In addition, he probably completed the construction of the Faceted Chamber or was engaged in its decoration. Unfortunately, such a successfully started activity was interrupted by the sudden death of the architect in 1493.
“By God’s grace We are the Great Sovereign Tsar and Grand Duke Alexei Mikhailovich, all the Great and Small and White Russia autocrat: Moscow, Kiev, Vladimersky, Novgorod, Kazan Tsar, Astrakhan Tsar and Siberian Tsar, Tsar of Pskov and Grand Duke of Lithuania, Smolensk, Tver Volynsky, Podolsky, Yugorsky, Perm, Vyattsky, Bulgarian and others, the sovereign and Grand Duke of Novgorod, Nizovsky lands, Chernigov, Ryazan, Polotsky, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Belozersky, Udora, Obdorsky, Kondiysky, Vitebsky and all the countries of Mstislavsky and the sovereign of the Iversk lands, the Kartalin and Georgian kings, and the Kabardian lands, the Cherkassk and Mountain princes and other many states and lands of the Eastern and Western and Northern Fathers and Dedich and the heir and the sovereign and the owner. ”
This title belonged to the father of Peter I, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. After the destruction of the Reserve Palace in the second half of the 18th century, during the construction of a grandiose building designed by architect V.I.Bazhenov, the plates with the inscription were thrown to the foot of Borovitsky Hill. And two centuries later, they were found there in a garbage dump, now some of them are on display at a new exhibition in the bell tower.
The weight of the Novgorod bell is 430 poods (about 7 tons). For the “Ivan the Great” bell tower in 1731 it was cast by Ivan Fedorovich Motorin, a representative of the famous dynasty of bell-makers. Together with his son Mikhail, he created the famous Tsar Bell standing at the base of the bell tower, the Seven-hundredth bell hanging nearby on the Filaretovskaya belfry, and the Nabatny bell located on the tower of the same name, and after the Plague Riot moved to the Armory, where to this day.
The “Novgorod” bell was transformed from an old evangelist made in 1556 by the Mikhailovs for the belfry of the ancient St. Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod the Great and later transported to Moscow. Not only is there an inscription on it, which, as is often practiced, refers to the casting, but also the text that was placed on the old bell. It stands out for its unusual decoration: in the upper part there are five relief belts, two of them are occupied with an inscription, which is framed by stripes of floral ornament.
The lowest tier is formed by figures of cherubs. Above them, among flowers and leaves, there are four identical cartouches, supported on both sides by the Apostles Peter and Paul, enclosing the view of Petersburg with the Neva and the Peter and Paul Fortress. Below, also in cartouches, are the composition “The Dormition of the Virgin” and the name of the master.
When visiting the new museum located in the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, visitors to the Kremlin for the first time after a long break have the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent view from its observation deck, located on the first tier of the once tallest building in Moscow. From here you can clearly see the motley buildings of Zamoskvorechye and the Moskva River, walls, some towers and the most interesting monuments that make up the architectural ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin.
The buildings surrounding Cathedral Square appear from a different angle: the Grand Kremlin Palace, the Assumption, Archangel and Annunciation Cathedrals, the Patriarchal Chambers with the Church of the Twelve Apostles. The domes of the Terem churches, decorated with green glazed tiles, appear in all their splendor, behind them are visible almost indistinguishable from below the top of the Terem Palace. The Faceted Chamber with the recently restored Red Porch is clearly visible. This building, created in 1491 by the Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solari, like the Grand Kremlin Palace complex, does not belong to the architectural monuments occupied by the museums of the Moscow Kremlin, but is strongly associated with them.
Russian emperors descended the porch of the Faceted Chamber to go to the Assumption Cathedral for coronation, and then, leaving the cathedral after the end of the ceremony, in front of a jubilant crowd they crossed in full vestments with a crown on their head on the paved platform of Cathedral Square to visit the Archangel and Annunciation Cathedrals. The first day of coronation celebrations usually ended with a festive ceremonial dinner in the Faceted Chamber.
In the 18th century, food was given to the people right on the square at the same time. As a rule, fried bulls stuffed with game were exhibited and fountains were installed, gushing with streams of red and white wine. And even earlier, in the 16th-17th centuries, foreign ambassadors rushed through the Kremlin’s Spassky Gate to Cathedral Square, bringing gifts to the Russian tsars, many of which are now kept in the Armory. Dismounting on the square, the distinguished guests entered the Faceted Chamber or other ceremonial rooms located next to it. At the same time, the New Year, or, as it was then called, New Years, was celebrated on Cathedral Square every September 1. From here, from the heart of the Kremlin, religious processions went to Red Square, to the Kazan and Pokrovsky cathedrals (St. Basil’s Cathedral).