The most interesting tower of Moscow Kremlin with chimes and Christ in icons
The tower was constructed in 1491 during the reign of Ivan III by Pietro Antonio Solari. This is recorded in memorial inscriptions on the white stone plaques installed on the tower. The Spassky Gate was the main of the Kremlin gates and people worshipped it as sacred. It was forbidden to pass through it on horseback and men had to take off their headwear in front of the image of Christ the Redeemer that was painted on the outside of the tower and lightened by an everburning icon-lamp.
Every procession went from Kremlin through this gate and every Russian ruler starting with tzar Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov (reign 1613-1645) solemnly passed through it before their coronation.
New clock on the Spassky Tower was made in 1625 under the guidance of Christopher Galloway, an English mechanic and watchmaker. At that time it played the music and measured the daytime and the nighttime though it didn’t have hands back then. The present clock was made in 1852 by Budenop brothers.
In 1996, during Boris Yeltzin’s inauguration the chimes played again after being silent for 58 Soviet years. Now, at 12 and 6 o’clock they played ‘Patriotic Song’, and at 3 and 9 o’clock — ‘Glorify’ choir melody from opera ‘Life for Tzar’ (both by Mikhail Glinka).
The image of Spas Smolensky (or 'the Saviour from Smolensk' in English) is considered to be the first Russian icon of ‘the Savior with his adepts falling down’ type. It was painted in gratitude for conquering Smolensk and placed above the Frolovsky Gate of Kremlin in 1514. In 1521 it was replaced by a fresco painted on the wall facing the Red Square to commemorate the rescue from the siege of Mehmed-Giray’s army.
On the August 25, 2010 it was reported that restoration of Spas Smolensky icon was finished and it was ready for opening. The restorers found out that the older image had been painted against the yellow (ocher) background while the newer one was painted on golden background.
The tower was crowned with a figure of two-headed eagle till 1935 when it was replaced with a red star. The first Spassky Tower Star, bigger than the present one, was made of copper, coated with gold and encrusted with Ural gems.
The Tower was named Spassky after its icons of Spas Smolensky and Spas Nerukotvorny (literally from Russian 'The Saviour Not Made By Hand') which were placed above the gates at the both sides of the tower. The icons on the tower had been considered lost for the long time after the 1917 Revolution until they were found under the plaster during restoration.
Another name of the Spassky Tower is Frolovsky (after the church facing the Kremlin Gate).
The tower’s height is 67 m or 71 m with the star.
The clock-face exceeds 6 m in diameter. Its minute and hour hands are 3.27 m long and 2.97 m long respectively.
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