|The Spasskaya Tower|
The Spasskaya Tower gleams in the mid-day sun.
|Height||71 metres (233 ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Pietro Antonio Solari|
The Spasskaya Tower was built in 1491 by the Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solari. Initially, it was named the Frolovskaya Tower after the Church of Frol and Lavr in the Kremlin, which is no longer there. The tower's modern name comes from the icon of 'Spas Nerukotvorny' (Russian: ? ?) translated as 'The Saviour Not Made by Hands', which was placed above the gates on the inside wall in 1658 and removed in 1917. The tower is also named for the wall-painted icon of 'Spas Smolensky' (Russian: ? ?) translated as 'Smolensky Saviour', which was created in the 16th century on the outside wall of tower, plastered over in 1937, but reopened and restored in 2010.
The Spasskaya Tower was the first tower of the many Moscow Kremlin Towers to be crowned with the hipped roof in 1624-1625 by architects Bazhen Ogurtsov and Christopher Galloway (a Scottish architect and clock maker). According to a number of historical accounts, the clock on the Spasskaya Tower appeared between 1491 and 1585. It is usually referred to as the Kremlin chimes ( ?) and designates official Moscow Time. The clock face has a diameter of 20 feet. The gate of Spasskaya Tower was used to greet dignitaries, and was also used during formal ceremonies or processions.
The tower gate was once the main entrance into the Kremlin. In tsarist times, anyone passing through the gates had to remove their headgear and dismount their horses.
"The Russians have always regarded the Spasskaya Tower with great reverence. According to old legends, the tower was possessed with miraculous powers and was reputed to protect the Kremlin from enemy invasion. People passing through the gates would always observe the custom of crossing themselves and doffing their hats to show their respect, and horses passing under the gates of the tower were said to shy. In fact, legend has it that Napoleon himself could not prevent his horse from taking fright as he rode through the gates, having failed to show his respect, and the French Emperor's hat was said to have fallen from his head."
On top of the gates of Spasskaya Tower, there appears the following inscription (it is inscribed in Latin):
In Latin: IOANNES VASILII DEI GRATIA MAGNUS DUX VOLODIMERIAE, MOSCOVIAE, NOVOGARDIAE, TFERIAE, PLESCOVIAE, VETICIAE, ONGARIAE, PERMIAE, BUOLGARIAE ET ALIAS TOTIUSQUE RAXIE DOMINUS, ANNO 30 IMPERII SUI HAS TURRES CONDERE FECIT ET STATUIT PETRUS ANTONIUS SOLARIUS MEDIOLANENSIS ANNO NATIVIT ATIS DOMINI 1491 KALENDIS MARTIIS IUSSIT PONERE.
In English: Ivan Vasiliyevich, by the grace of God the Grand Duke of Vladimir, Moscow, Novgorod, Tver, Pskov, Vyatka, Yugra, Perm, Bulghar, and for other reasons that of all of Raxis, the year of 30 their government, these towers he did [commission] a Pietro Antonio Solari of Milan in the first of March, in the year of the Lord 1491.
After the rise of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin replaced the two-headed eagle on top of the Spasskaya Tower with a red star because he wanted to remove all evidence of the former Tsarist time, the star is rotating in 360°. The height of the tower with the star is 71 meters.
The tradition of dismounting your horse and removing your hat ended during the Soviet reign. Cars approached the gate head on from the place of skulls and the road beside the GUM department store. All other traffic was routed through the Borovitsky gate.
Various cathedrals were demolished throughout the years to make room for other government buildings. It was not until 1955 during the rule of Nikita Khrushchev that the Kremlin was reopened to foreign visitors; the Kremlin was turned into a museum in 1961 and added to the World Heritage List in 1990. The daughter of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is the current director of the Kremlin Museums, Elena Gagarina. There are many cathedrals inside the Kremlin walls, and many of them hold church services, however irregularly because the cathedrals are still operated as museums.
The Spasskaya Gate posed an issue following the collapse of communism. In the new capitalist and market-based economy, the passage of vehicles disrupted the flow of pedestrians to GUM and other shopping centers, even though few vehicles actually passed through the gate each day. In 1999, the decision was made to finally close the gate to all traffic. The signal lights and guard platforms still remain. The gate is used occasionally when repairs must be made to the Borovissky Gate. However, in that case, all traffic is routed from Vasilyevsky Spusk. Nowadays, the gate opens to receive the presidential motorcades on inauguration day, for the victory parades, and to receive the new years tree.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin discussed building two monasteries and a church with the city's mayor, Sergey Sobyanin. Gromov would like to get the approval for demolition on one of the administration buildings. This administration building is not an "UNESCO World Heritage Site or an object that has any historical or cultural significance".
Spasskaya Tower is also home to the International Military Music Festival "Spasskaya Tower".
In August 2010 the icon of Smolensk Saviour was uncovered and restored above the gate (see picture below).