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Ivan the Great Bell Tower

Located between Palace square and Cathedral square
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Today the bell tower houses a museum dedicated to the history of the Moscow Kremlin architectural complex throughout nine centuries.
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The Ivan the Great Bell-Tower was formed for two centuries. The Bell-Tower was constructed of brick and white stone in 1505-1508 by Italian architect Bon Friazin on the site of the dismantled church of St. Ivan Climacus in1329, so called «under -the Bell» type. A century later, in 1600, on the order of Tsar Boris Godunov, the Bell Tower was raised to its present height and finished with a gilded dome, as commemorated by the gilded inscription on the blue background just under the dome's base. At the same time, a tier of carinated kokoshniks (arch vaults) was created to connect the third-floor octahedron with the dome drum, thereby emphasizing the rocket-like projection of the bell tower. As a result, the height of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower grew to 81 meters (while the white-stone basement of the bell tower remained upon its original octahedral shaped base at a diameter of 25 meters, sunk but 4,3 meters from the surface of Cathedral Square).

In 1532-1552, a new church was built near the Bell-Tower on the project of Italian architect Petrok Maliy. In the late XVIIth century it was dismantled and transformed into a belfry named Uspenskaya . In 1624 Bazhen Ogurtsov added to the Uspenskaya another one belfry with a marquee-top — the Filaret's Annex.

In 1812 the Napoleon's Army blew up the Ivan the Great Bell-Tower ensemble. However, the pillar of the bell-tower survived. The Belfry and the Filaret's Annex were completely destroyed and restored in original dimensions in 1814-1815. At present, 24 bells of XVI-XVII centuries are located on the bell-tower and belfry.

The belfry of Ivan the Great contains 21 bells, among which the Assumption bell is the mightiest of all Kremlin bells. The bell itself weighs 4000 «poods» (a XIXth century measurement weighing approximately 65,5 tons).The ground floor of the Assunmption Belfry houses an exhibition hall of Moscow Kremlin Museums. Artworks both from the Kremlin's collections and those of other Russian and foreign museums are exhibited in the hall.

Today the bell tower houses a museum dedicated to the history of the Moscow Kremlin architectural complex throughout nine centuries. The historical and architectural exposition, occupying three floors of the bell-tower, is performed on a base of advanced multimedia technologies, incorporating real and electronic video series.

Text and photos provided by The Moscow Kremlin State Historical and Cultural Museum and Heritage Site.

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