The Kremlin, the beating heart of Moscow, is surrounded by a brick wall with access through five gates. Inside are the most important representations of architecture and history, including Lenin’s tomb, various cathedrals and architecturally-outstanding buildings honoring czars and church luminaries. In this albumen photograph taken toward the end of the 19th century by an unknown photographer, and which is part of Haverford’s photography collection, the viewer can see a portion of this magnificent site. In the background one would normally see the amazing church and tower of Ivan Veliki (St. John the Great) with its bells collected from all over Russia, but in focusing on the “King of the Bells (Tsar’ Kolokol)” itself, the photographer pointed his camera away from the tower. The original King of Bells was forged in 1655 by decree of Empress Anna. As it was being hoisted for installation in the tower in 1674, it fell and broke apart. Some 30 years later, the empress decreed that a new bell be built using the bronze from the original bell. The result was the bell seen here, weighing some 200 tons, 6.14 meters in height and 6.6 meters in diameter, making it the largest bell in the world. Inscribed in the bell were images of Tsar Alexei and Empress Anna and atop, a Greek cross. While the bell was waiting for installation, a fire engulfed it, and when water was poured on, a chunk broke off. The photographer captured the dimensions of the bell and its chunk by positioning a man in front of it. Note: As of 2007, the author confirms that the bell is still as seen in this photograph.
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