Ivan the Great Bell Tower

Moscow, Russia

On the eastern side of Cathedral Square stands the magnificent Ivan the Great Belltower, which, at a height of 81 metres, was the tallest building in all Russia for almost 400 years. It was the work of an Italian, Marco Bono, who was ordered by Ivan the Great to design a belltower for the Archangel, Assumption and Annunciation Cathedrals next to the 1329 Church of St. John Climacus-under-the Bells.

Between 1532 and 1543, architect Petrok Maliy built the four-storey Assumption Belfry, which stands next to the tower and houses the 64-ton Resurrection Bell, cast in the 19th Century. In 1624, the tent-roofed Filaret Tower was added.

In 1812, Napoleon's soldiers tore down many of the buildings of the Kremlin, and attempted to blow up the bell tower. Thankfully they failed, although the belfry and the Filaret Tower were badly damaged. They were restored in 1819 by the architect D.I. Gilardi.

There are 21 bells in the tower and belfry, of which the Assumption Bell, located in the central arch of the belfry, is the largest at 70 tons. It was always the first bell to ring on church holidays, a signal that started all the other church bells in Moscow. In 1918 the last Easter service in the Kremlin took place, and the bells of Ivan the Great did not ring again until 1992.

Wide scale restoration work was carried out in the 1950s, and an exhibition hall was created on the ground floor, which is still used for various temporary exhibitions.

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Founded: 1505-1508
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4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Pavan Rao (2 years ago)
Superb part of the Kremlin ensemble. Didn't get to cost inside this time round but still quite good especially with some historical background
Joseph Gilbert (3 years ago)
October 2018: There is currently an amazing Bulgary old jewelry and diamond exhibition which should not be missed!
BradJill Travels (3 years ago)
Ivan the Great's Bell Tower is a feature attraction within the Kremlin in Moscow. Entrance requires a separate ticket (250 RUB) to the rest of the cathedrals on Cathedral Square (500 RUB). The belfry was constructed in 1508 for the three main Russian Orthodox cathedrals (Assumption, Annunciation and Archangel) which don't have their own bell towers. It is 81 metres in height and topped with a golden doom with cross. Ivan the Great's Bell Tower is an important landmark and beautiful building to see and photograph even if you don't have time or intent to visit the inside. You can see the tower clearly from from pretty much everywhere within the Kremlin given its height over the churchs at Cathedral Square. In addition to the tower, you will also find Tsar's Bell and Tsar's Cannon situated just outside Ivan the Great's Tower. These are both enormous in size and fun minor attractions to view and take pictures of when visiting the Kremlin as well.
Vincent Lee (3 years ago)
Beautiful building and great view to buildings around it.
Roger Parrish (5 years ago)
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower is the physically tallest of the towers in the Moscow Kremlin Cathedral Square site, with a total height of 81m/266 ft. The Ivan the Great Bell Tower was built in 1508 for the Russian Orthodox Church. The tower was built in Cathedral Square, with belfries, because the Cathedrals of Assumption, Archangel and Annunciation. The chance to see the Ivan the Great Bell Tower was a fantastic experience, not only for its beauty, but its history in this magical place. Колокольня Ивана Великого башня является физически самая высокая из башен в месте Московского Кремля Соборной площади, с общей высотой 81 м / 266 футов. Ивана Великого Колокольня была построена в 1508 году для Русской Православной Церкви. Башня была построена на Соборной площади, с колоколен, потому что Соборы Успенского, Архангельска и Благовещения. Шанс увидеть Ивана Великого Колокольня был фантастический опыт, а не только своей красотой, но его история в этом волшебном месте. Le Ivan le Grand Bell Tower est le physique le plus haut des tours dans le site Kremlin de Moscou Place de la Cathédrale, avec une hauteur totale de 81m / 266 pieds. Le Ivan le Grand Tour de la Cloche a été construit en 1508 pour l'Eglise orthodoxe russe. La tour a été construite en place de la cathédrale, avec beffrois, parce que les Cathédrales de l'Assomption, l'Archange et l'Annonciation. La chance de voir le Ivan le Grand Tour Bell a été une expérience fantastique, non seulement pour sa beauté, mais son histoire dans ce lieu magique. Das Ivan der große Glockenturm ist die physisch von den Türmen in den Moskauer Kreml Domplatz Ort am höchsten, mit einer Gesamthöhe von 81m / 266 ft. Die Iwan der Große Glockenturm im Jahr 1508 für die russisch-orthodoxe Kirche gebaut wurde. Der Turm wurde in Domplatz, mit belfries, weil die Kathedralen von Assumption, Erzengel und Verkündigung gebaut. Die Chance zu sehen, die Iwan der Große Glockenturm war eine fantastische Erfahrung, nicht nur für seine Schönheit, aber seine Geschichte in diesem magischen Ort.
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.