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The Tsar Bell

The Tsar Bell in Moscow Kremlin The Tsar Bell stands on a large pedestal in the Kremlin not far from the Ivan the Great Bell Tower. This is the largest bell in the world, weighing almost 202 tons and standing more than 6 metres high and 6.6 metres across. The story of its construction is marked by a series of almost supernatural misfortunes, as if this white elephant was cursed from conception. Empress Anna Ioanovna had wanted to entrust the making of the bell to a French royal mechanic, but was refused. Monsieur Germaine judged that it was impossible to make a bell that big. The work was therefore handed to the Motorin father and son team of Russian craftsmen.

The bell was cast in a large ditch dug in Ivanovsky Square. The craftsmen prepared for the casting for two years, but work had to be stopped when leaking metal caused a fire that burnt down the wooden derrick designed to lift the future bell. It is claimed that after this the elder Motorin "died of grief". However, his son began work again, and in 1735 the bronze was poured into the cast in only half an hour. But that was not the end of the disasters, and during a fire in 1737 overheating and uneven cooling caused a large chunk weighing more than 11 tons to crack from the bell. For another century the monster lay in its casting pit, and it was only in 1836, on a second attempt, that the bell was at last raised from the pit and placed on its pedestal.

Today visitors to the Kremlin can admire the rich relief work on the bell's exterior, depicting Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, Russian rulers and their patron saints.

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