This five-tier construction towers of the Kremlin walls are like a white monolith. For the first time the belfry of this type was constructed in Novgorod under Euphemius the Second, the Archbishop. At the foot of the tower there are five ancient monumental bells and the belfry itself houses bells of modern casting. It is the chimes of the bells of this belfry that appeared to be one of the brightest childhood memories for Sergei Rachmaninov, a great Russian composer born in the Novgorod region. Now the belfry houses the exhibition «Ancient Bells of Veliky Novgorod». The largest bell exhibited weighs over 20 poods (about 705 pounds, or 320 kg), and the smallest one is over 1.5 poods (about 53 pounds, or 24 kg). The viewing point provides a picturesque panorama of Veliky Novgorod. In summer time it is open daily, except Tuesday.
This grandiose construction stands over the Kremlin in the wall with five spans form in the upper part. This type of construction was invented during the reign of Novgorod Archbishop Euphemius II and then was duplicated only twice in Russia. There are five ancient monumental bells at the foot of the bell tower; the bells of modern casting hang above. Every day the sound of the bells is spread far away above the city.
The first mention of the preserved building of the bell tower refers to 1437, when the spring flood of the river Volkhov brought down this construction. Two years later Archbishop Euphemius II built a new bell tower on the old place.
It was rebuilt many times, and only the architectural and archeological research and the images on the ancient icons give the opportunity to picture its original shape. But such reconstructions didn’t change the essence of this construction as the «main bells» of Novgorod.
Once Sofia bells were heard for 50 miles and were noted for a special melody. These very bells were always in a memory of the great composer Sergey Rakhmaninoff, who was born in Novgorod region. Unfortunately, nowadays the bells stand on the ground. During the Second World War they tried to evacuate the bells on a barge, but the ship engine was hit, so the attempt to evacuate it failed, the bells were damaged. But maybe one day the sound of the bells will be heard again over Novgorod: recently open technology allows to «cure» such unique instruments.
Now there is an exhibition «Ancient bells of Veliky Novgorod» in Sophia bell tower, which is represented by 14 bells. The biggest one weighs more than 20 poods (320 kg), and the smallest one is more than 1.5 poods (about 24 kg). Sightseeing platform which is located in the bell tower is open daily for visitors during the warm season. It opens a spectacular panoramic view of Veliky Novgorod.
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