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Massive Masterpieces of the Kremlin

The Kremlin in Moscow is a popular attraction for tourists visiting Russia. Its history and various noteworthy buildings lure thousands of travelers to its location on the Moskva River. Within the intimidating walls of the Kremlin, the residence of the Russian President, await four breathtaking cathedrals and four magnificent palaces. It is a reminder of Russian heritage and the rule of the Tsars. But, there are no greater monuments to the Tsars than the Tsar Cannon and the Tsar Bell, which are on display in front of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.

Many people would wonder how a bell can be listed as an attraction. The simple answer is that it is the largest bell in existence, in the world. Visitors are often awestruck at the sight of the Tsar Bell, as it is indeed an impressive feat of engineering, for its time. A cast pit had to be dug in the ground to accommodate the molding process, and casting was done between 1733 and 1735 by a father and son foundry team, Ivan and Mikhail Motorin. Immensely detailed work was put into the representations on the outside of the bell. Piotr Kokhtev, Vasily Kobelev and Piotr Serebriakov worked tirelessly to adorn the Tsar Bell with five icons, two inscriptions and the figures of Empress Anna Ioannovna and Romanov Tsar Alexei Mikahilovich.

While the superheated bell was taking its form in the casting pit, a fire broke out in the Kremlin. Water was used to douse the raging fire, but as water fell onto the bell, an eleven ton piece of the bell broke off. The Tsar Bell weighs approximately two hundred tones and is twenty feet in height, with a twenty-two foot base diameter. Due to the damage caused to the bell, it has never rung, but visitors can stick their heads in the broken area to view massive bell clappers. While the eighty percent copper bell and its broken piece stand on a stone pedestal to be marveled at by visitors, another gigantic attraction of the period stands close by, the Tsar Cannon.

As with the Tsar Bell, visitors will not find a larger cannon anywhere else on the planet, and it holds the record in the Guinness Book of Records to support this fact. In 1586, Andrei Shchokhov, a foundry master, cast the Tsar Cannon from bronze on commission from Tsar Feodor. The finished project was a massive cannon that weighs approximately forty tons and has a seventeen foot barrel. Its original wooden carriage was destroyed by fire and later re-made from pig iron in 1835. When looking at the one ton cannon balls on display next to the unfired cannon, one has to wonder if the cannon was deliberately made for exhibition purposes only. The cannon’s barrel diameter clearly indicates that it was made to fire 800 kilogram grapeshot, and not the enlarged cannon balls which are larger than the diameter. No matter what its original purpose was, the Tsar Cannon is still a masterpiece, complete with decorative images of Tsar Feodor Invanovich on horseback and a wrestling snake and lion.

Both the Tsar Bell and Tsar Cannon are noteworthy attractions at The Kremlin in Moscow and visitors might have to be patient, as many see the two gigantic works of art as the perfect photo opportunity.


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