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The history of the Kremlin chimes

Запись от Про искусство размещена 29.03.2019 в 14:26

looked Like Kremlin clock in the time of Ivan the terrible and Catherine II: the signs of the zodiac, letters, Sun and Moon.




One arrow and the letters-цифры

To the Spassky tower, formerly known as Frolovskaya, from time immemorial in Russia was a special case. The front pass-gate, the townspeople believed the saints. It is no coincidence that it was running the main clock state.

To date, historians have not come to a consensus when just appeared on the Spasskaya tower watch. Most likely, it happened right after the tower was rebuilt on the orders of Ivan III at the end of the XV century. The first written mention of the main clock of the state dates back to 1585 the company of contemporaries indicated that the Kremlin was working watchmakers.

According to historians, at that time on the clock used old Russian (Byzantine) way of counting time. Day in Russia in old times were divided into" daily" hours and" nonye", and because the duration of daylight throughout the year has varied, this was taken into account when calculating time.


Clock of the Spasskaya tower. N. Avvakumov.

the appearance of such watches for the modern man strange and unusual: one fixed arrow located not on the dial and a little higher. The dial is rotated under the arrow. It was a picture of the old Church Slavonic letters, all of which meant his figure, for example," A" is" 1", —" 2" and so on. Such letters was only 17 – so many hours, according to the observations of our ancestors, lasted the longest day of the year.



Preserved the image of the old 17-часового dial Frolovskaya (Spasskaya) tower.

Curious the clock mechanism, consisting of gears, levers, ropes and rollers. Watchmakers, who served at the Spassky chimes, closely followed the work of the mechanism and to regularly adjust the clock. With the coming of dawn, and at sunset they manually turned the dial so that the arrow, depicting a sunbeam, pointed to the first letter ("A"). To make it easier to navigate, they were given a special table showing how many light hours in a given day. Thus, these caretakers for chimes was not only repairmen-часовщиками – they are in fact responsible for during the Moscow time.

Alas, due to frequent fires the Spassky clock, as if carefully to him or treated periodically fell into disrepair and broke. Particularly hard hit mechanism chimes in a fire in 1624, so that restore them and sold for scrap Yaroslavl monastery.

To replace the first watch in 1625 came the new – larger in size (with a diameter of about five meters), with a beautiful battle. They were instructed to produce the English mechanic by the name of Christopher Galova, and helped him Russian кузнецы-часовщики.


A. Vasnetsov. Red square under Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich.

On an oak dial of the new watch was displayed in the same way the old Russian variant of counting time. The inner circle was azure-голубого color, representing the sky. It was painted gold and silver stars and also the moon and the Sun. The letters on the dial was of brass, gold plated.


Kremlin chimes of those years (modern reconstruction).

at the Top of the tower wall there was another circle in which was located the text of the prayer and the signs of the zodiac. By the way, their fragments still preserved under the modern clock.

To set the new hours had to build a tower, increasing it to four tiers. She had beautiful arched edging of brick with carved ornaments. The dial is placed in the upper part of the tent, 7-9 tiers, and the small bells chime – 10-м. In certain periods they were ringing melody. These watches considered to be the prototype of the modern chimes.


a Few years ago the dial was lower than it is now (modern reconstruction).

I Must say, the new watch also suffered from fires, and they also had to periodically repair, but, nevertheless, they have served for decades. When Peter I issued a decree on the transfer of Russia into a new era, the need for" legacy" hours anymore. The king was brought from Holland new, with 12 numbers and told me to hang them instead of the old. Now beat chimes every 15 minutes and also ringing melody.

To serve new hours the Kremlin contained the staff-часовщиков, moreover, most of them were foreigners.


before the transition To the modern daily the Kremlin chimes were. The reconstruction of image A. meyerberg (Museum in town of Aleksandrov Vladimirskoj.)


From Catherine"s times to our days

And again in the fate of the clock on the Spasskaya stepped in a fire. In 1737 he hurt not only them, but also wooden parts of the Kremlin towers, including the shaft chimes. Bell music is the main Russian hours ceased to sound on the red square, and after the transfer Peter of the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg against the chime has not been so careful – they were not wanted. The clock is constantly breaking down and repairing their bad.

When ascended the throne of Catherine, she decided to give the watch a second life. But it turned out that by this time they were in such a bad condition that the repair they just did not make sense. Then the Empress ordered to replace the clock on Peter"s other" English" (that"s how they wrote about contemporaries), who was able to find in the Palace of facets. They established domestic master Ivan Polyanskiy and German engineer-часовщик, Fats.

In 1770 chimes rang his first tune, and it was" Oh, my dear Augustin." Why did you choose it? Yes, just this song really liked the alien Fatzo. Melody about Augustine regularly sounded in Moscow for almost a year, and none of the Russian nobility was not discouraged.

In the middle of the XIX century, as a result thorough examination of the chimes, it turned out that they are in" complete disarray". Watches have undergone major renovation, was the company" Brothers Butenop".


F. Alekseev. Red square in Moscow. 1801

Masters replaced the gear and wheel (this time using a special alloy, resistant to sudden temperature drops), the chimes has a new swingarm and a more modern course. Were also made other dials (6 m diameter) for each of the four sides of the tower – black with gold plated trim and brass numbers with minute tick marks. The clock hands are also covered with gold.

as for the musical part of the chimes, to existing bells were added extra that had to be removed from other Kremlin towers. Bells just turned 48. The musical mechanism is completely altered.

1917-м, as a result of shelling of the Kremlin chimes was seriously injured: a shell landed right in one of the arrows and damaged the mechanism of their rotation.



Modern chimes look approximately as in the nineteenth century.

Only a year later Lenin ordered to recover the clock. The Kremlin chiming clock, new pendulum, the mechanism of rotation arrows working again. With musician Mikhail Cheremnykh (better known in Soviet times as an artist-график) managed to understand the bell system...

In the last century chimes have undergone two major restoration in 1974 and 1999-м. In our time chimes take from 8 to 10 tiers of the tent of the tower. Externally the dial is exactly the scenario that produced in the nineteenth century, the brothers Butenop.

Text: Anna Belova
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