Who else but Russia could claim that they have the largest bell in the world?
Moscow is home for the world’s largest bell – also known as Tsar Kolokol (Royal Bell), which stands over 6metres tall on the grounds of the Kremlin, between Ivan the Great Bell Tower and the Kremlin Wall. This great bell was however, never rung, as it was broken during casting (How cool is that? We can now boast of the largest bell in the world that was never rung and can never be rung again!).
Back to the main story. This bell was commissioned by Empress Anna Ivanovna. The earlier Tsar Bells were all destroyed by misfortunes – the First Generation Tsar Bell stood within the original Ivan the Great Bell Tower, but which crashed to the grounds in a fire. The pieces were maintained and used to build the Second Generation Tsar Bell – again to be destroyed in a fire. The bell that you see in these pictures are the Third Generation Tsar Bell, much heavier and larger than its predecessors. This third bell sees relief work on the exterior depicting Jesus Christ, Russian rulers and other patron saints. However, during its creation, overheating caused a fire and a series of attempts to put out the fire resulted in severe cracks. What we see henceforth, is a major crack in the bell and a 11,500kg broken segment of the bell resting by the main structure today. The bell remained in its crafting pits for centuries and Napoleon had even threatened to move it to France as a trophy in 1812. He failed to do so, because of the sheer size of the structure. Interestingly, the bell had once served as a chapel.
Another structure that stands nearby is the Tsar Cannon. While the cannon isn’t of real functional use, it stands as a grand symbol also on the grounds of the Moscow Kremlin. According to history of its original locations, the Tsar Cannon was planned to be used to protect the East of Kremlin, but was moved later to the Arsenal. The Cannon has never been used in war.
This short write-up doesn’t suffice to explain the beauty and historical value I saw in the Tsar Bell and Tsar Cannon – I got home and started sketching each of them on various occasions. If time permits, visit Russia and see this for yourselves!