architectural complex is dominated by the Belfry of Ivan
the Great. Together with the adjoining bell tower and the
Filaret Tower it forms the ensemble of the east part of
Belfry was built
by the architect Bono Friazin in 1505-1508 and originally
consisted of two lower tiers and part of a third tier. It
was 60m tall. It was named “Ivan” after St. John the
Climacus to whom the church in the first tier was
consecrated, and “The Great”- because of its unusual
height. It used to be the Kremlin’s watchtower in olden
times because of its view of 25-30 km.
1600, by order of Tsar Boris Godunov, the belfry was
brought up to the height of 81m. An inscription in golden
letters under the cupola testifies to this fact.
1532-1543 the architect Petroch the younger built a church
with a bell tower on the north face of the belfry. In 1624
the Filaret tower was added to the second building. All
these structures joined to create an integral
Bell Tower and the Filaret Tower were blown up by the
retreating Napoleonic army in 1812. The Belfry of Ivan the
Great was not destroyed but it cracked. It was saved by
the craftsmanship of its builders who had erected an
exceptionally solid structure.
1819 the Bell Tower and the Filaret Tower were restored by
the architect D.I.Gilardi.
are several staircases leading to the Belfry’s upper
sections. First, an inner stone staircase of 83 steps,
then a spiral staircase of 149 steps and, lastly, a spiral
metal staircase (97 steps), which leads up to the cupola.
are 21 16th-19th cc. Bells in the
belfry and the bell tower. These bells are both ancient
musical instruments and highly artistic examples of
monumental casting associated with the names of Russian
founders such as Fyodor and Ivan Motorin, Andrei Chokhov,
Filip Andreyev and Vassily and Yakov Leontyev.
contemporaries named the most popular bells, for instance
there are bells called “Novi”, “Reut” and “Uspensky”.
The Uspensky bell is the largest, it weighs 70 tons.
Square immediately behind the Belfry of Ivan the Great has
been called Ivanovsky (Ivan’s) Square since olden times.
This is where the buildings of the prikazes (state
judicial departments) used to stand. Therefore, the
tsar’s decrees were announced here. The dyaks (the
prikaz’s officials) shouted very loudly so that they
could be heard throughout the square. Since then there has
been a saying in Russia: “To scream at the top of your
lungs so that all of Ivanovsky could hear”.
There is an exhibition hall on the first floor of
the bell tower where the works of art from the Moscow
Kremlin collections are on display.