Overlooking the other religious buildings on Cathedral Square, this bell tower stands out with its size, striking design and historical significance.
Ivan the Great Bell Tower held the title of Moscow’s tallest building for more than 400 years, before it was usurped by a Stalinist skyscraper in the 1950s. Despite attempts to have it destroyed, the tower has survived Moscow’s turbulent history and is now a symbol of the city. Learn about its historical significance in the museum and take pictures of the city from its lofty viewing platform.
See the Church of Ioann Lestvichnik under the Bells, which was erected under the orders of Ivan I in 1329. The church was given a new belfry in the early 1500s, but it was architect Boris Godunov who raised the tower to its current height of 266 feet (81 meters) in the 17th century. Napoleon later tried to dynamite the bell tower but failed, an event that helped perpetuate the commonly held belief that as long as the bell tower stands, so too will Russia.
Walk toward the bell tower and you’ll immediately be struck by the scale of the huge bells decorating the white façade, as well as by its regal golden dome. Compare the Ivan the Great Bell Tower with its neighbor, the 16th-century Assumption Belfry. The two buildings have a pleasingly similar design. Both have golden domes crowning their white exteriors and designs that become progressively more elaborate as they head skyward.
Step inside and browse the bell tower’s museum on three stories of the building. Learn more about the Kremlin’s past with multimedia exhibits, which include videos and old plans of the area. Ascend to the viewing platform to get uninterrupted views of Moscow from the air.
Ivan the Great Bell Tower is located on Cathedral Square in the Kremlin, alongside other important religious monuments, such as the Church of the Annunciation and the Cathedral of the Archangel. Ride the metro to Alexandrovsky Sad station to get here. The bell tower has an entry fee and is open every day except Thursdays.