A new bell weighing 16.5 tons has been installed at the Novospassky Monastery (at 10 Krestyanskaya Square, building 1) in Moscow. The bell tower, which is 80.4 metres tall, is the second highest bell tower in Moscow after the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in Kremlin, which is almost 81 metres high.
The restoration of the bell tower’s façade will be completed by the end of the year, while the restoration work inside the bell tower (namely, inside the Church of St Sergius of Radonezh on the first floor) will be completed in summer 2018. The Novospassky Monastery’s bell tower was designed by architect Ivan Zherebtsov and built out of bricks at the end of the 18th century. Its facades were covered with plaster and painted white and yellow. The building was designed in a classic style and has three floors. The main gates to the monastery can be found on the ground floor, while the Church of St Sergius of Radonezh, which was built back in 1787, can be found on the first floor. The second floor is currently empty, while the bell tower can be found on the third floor. Above the floor there is a clock that chimes and an octagonal gilded dome with a cross.
The bell tower will be equipped with 11 bells – one big bell and ten smaller ones. During Soviet times the bell tower was not used, and the bells were lost. Now a new big 16.5 ton bell has been installed, which, according to the Old Russian measuring system, weighs 1,000 poods (one pood equals 16.38 kilograms – mos.ru). In order to hoist it up to the third floor, workers had to build a special external platform – a metal construction attached to the outer side of the building. The bell was lifted up and installed on the platform with a crane, and then rolled inside the bell tower. Using winches, the workers then attached the bell to specially designated iron beams.
The bell was cast from bronze – a special alloy of copper and tin. Apart from the big bell, there will be ten smaller bells installed in the tower as well. They will toll for the first time next year, once the restoration work has been completed.
“The restoration of the 18th century bell tower began in December 2016. Its facades were collapsing, and we needed to prevent further dilapidation: water was leaking from the outside through the cracks and the walls were chipped. In winter the water froze, making the cracks even bigger. Moreover, some architectural and decorative elements had been partially lost. Experts reinforced the brickwork, restored some of the elements of décor, including the white stone flowerpots, columns and bowls; plastered the walls and covered the facades with fresh layers of paint. They also installed new forged cast iron gates at the entry arch (in November they will also paint the gates and open them); the dome and the cross have been restored and covered with gold leaf. The bell tower clock’s dial has been restored, and new works inside the clock will be made soon as well,” said Alexei Yemelyanov, head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage.
Experts are currently working on fragments of 19th century paintings, which were discovered under layers of paint inside the arch of the ground floor of the building. The arch was closed until the end of the restoration work, which is planned to be completed in October.
The restoration work is under way inside the bell tower as well. Workers are currently recreating the wooden ceilings, plastering the walls and working on the engineering communications (such as electricity, water, drainage, heating and ventilation systems).
Restoration is also being carried out inside the Church of St Sergius of Radonezh, where experts are using photos from the archives, and studying historical documents to restore the wall paintings, which had been completely lost.
The Novospassky Monastery is located on the Krutitsky Hill on the left bank of the Moskva River. It was founded back in 1282 by Moscow Prince Daniil Aleksandrovich. In 1330, Prince Ivan Kalita decided to move the monastery inside the Kremlin, where it became a chamber monastery. Following the Kremlin fire of 1488, the monastery was moved outside the city to the southeast, to Krutitsy (named after the steep left bank of the Moskva River), and was named Savior at the New Site, or Novospassky. The monastery was surrounded by a wall and could serve as a fortress, protecting Moscow against Crimean tatars’ assaults. The bell tower of the Novospassky stavropegial (independent from the local diocesan branch – mos.ru) monastery was built in 1785. The construction lasted for almost 30 years and was eventually completed due to the support of Catherine the Great and private donations.
During Soviet times, the monastery served as a women’s correctional centre, a juvenile detention centre and a detoxification centre. Since 1930, the monastery had served as a dormitory, and the eviction of tenants started only back in 1960. Once the eviction was over, the monastery was turned into a large centre for restoration. In 1990s, it was eventually given over to the Russian Orthodox Church.
In September, restoration of a 19th century Old Believer gravestone monument was completed in Moscow. A chapel serving as a memorial to merchant Vikula Morozov is located at the Preobrazhenskoye cemetery.