On August 13 I visited the Trinity Lavra Monastery in Sergiyev Posad north of Moscow to see the largest bell in Russia which is in use. It was cast in 2003 by Igor Savelev in St. Petersburg and hangs in the 289 feet high 18th century monastery belltower. It is an exact copy of the Tsar Bell cast by Mikhail Motorin in 1748 and destroyed by the soviets in 1930. It weighs 79 tons and is 14 feet 7 inches tall. The Trinity Lavra Monastery was established in 1337 by St. Sergius of Radonezh.
Hierodeacon Gerasim showed us the bell tower. The clapper of the Tsar bell weighs 2.2 tons and four men are needed to swing it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kczGx7S4b4Q The bell is richly ornamented with figures of Christ, the saints and Russian priests. Five rows of inscriptions completely encircle the bottom of the bell, a band with figures of angels encircle the top. In spite of the bell’s weight, its strike tone is the G a fifth higher than the low C of the 20 ton bourdon bell of the Riverside Church in New York.
The Tsar Bell is flanked by two other bells, the Evangelist and the First-born weighing 39 and 30 tons. Their clappers weigh 1.4 tons and 0.88 tons respectively. They were cast in 2002 at AMO ZIL, the Moscow Automotive Society – Likhachov Plant. The rest of the tower’s zvon is hung on the next level. It is played by pressing on cables connected to a post in front of the window or to a set of seven pedals at its base.
Nine smaller bells hang in front of the post, three each hang in the eastern and western windows. The latter includes the Miracle Worker Bell, which dates from 1420 and is the oldest extant bell in the Moscow region. The largest bell in the chamber was donated by Tsar Boris Gudonov in the 16th century. Below the bellchamber there is a series of panels with texts and pictures with information about the history of the monastery and belltower and its bells.
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