The Spasskaya Tower is the most famous and largest of all the Kremlin towers. It has 10 floors, its height is 67.3 meters without a star and 71 meters with it.
The Spasskaya Tower was erected under Prince Ivan III by the Italian architect Pietro Solari. Initially, the tower was called Frolovskaya, since nearby on Myasnitskaya Street, where the road from the Kremlin led, there was a temple of Frol and Lavra, which has not survived to this day.
In 1521, in memory of the liberation of Moscow from the siege of the army of Khan Makhmet-Girey, the image of the Savior of Smolensky appeared over the Frolovskaya gate from the side of Red Square. The image was considered unearthly in origin, and how it appeared, no one can say for sure. This image was placed in the icon case, and a lantern was hung in front of the icon case. The fire of the lamp was watched by the attendant of St. Basil's Cathedral.
In the second half of the 17th century, the image of the Savior Not Made by Hands was installed on the gates from the side of the Kremlin. At that time, an epidemic of plague took place in the central regions of the Moscow state, in which Moscow especially suffered, but one of the cities, Khlynov (Kirov, Vyatka), was bypassed, and rumors began to arise that the reason for this was the miraculous image of the Savior Not Made by Hands, to which they prayed townspeople. Upon learning of this, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich ordered to bring the icon to Moscow. Two copies were made from the icon, one of which was installed above the Frolovskaya gate from the Kremlin side. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, by a special decree of 1658, ordered to change the name of the Frolovskie Gates to Spassky, and the tower got a new name - Spasskaya.
Around the same time, an arched stone bridge was added to the Spasskaya Tower, and a two-headed eagle was installed on the tent.
After the Bolsheviks came to power, the gateway image of the Savior Not Made by Hands was lost.
The image of the Savior of Smolensky remained on the Spasskaya Tower even after the revolution, but in 1934 the two-headed eagles were removed from all the towers and the icons were closed. In place of the image of the Savior of Smolensk, only a white plastered rectangle remained. But in 2010, an icon was discovered under a layer of plaster, which was 80% preserved, and the image of the Savior of Smolensky was restored. There were traces of shrapnel received during shelling of the tower, and traces of pins holding the net.
The Spassky Gate was considered holy in ancient times. It was impossible to ride through them on horseback, and men passing through them had to take off their hats. If they did not, then they had to atone for their guilt with 50 bows to the ground. The Spassky Gate was a meeting place for Moscow princes with foreign ambassadors. Through these gates, troops went to battle, all religious processions from the Kremlin and all the rulers passed before their coronation.
One legend testifies to the holy power of the Spassky Gate. It was during the war of 1812. Napoleon, having seized Moscow, temporarily settled in the Kremlin. When he rode on horseback through the Spassky Gate, without taking off his hat, thereby violating all the prohibitions, a strong wind rose and blew the cocked hat off his head. His entourage regarded this as a bad sign, and this sign was justified. It is reliably known that Napoleon wanted to blow up this tower, but the Don Cossacks arrived in time and the explosion was prevented.
The legend has survived that the French tried to steal the precious setting of the icon, but in this case they were also unlucky. When the soldiers climbed the stairs, she collapsed with them, and they did not dare to climb a second time.
Chimes are installed on the Spasskaya Tower, which are a symbol not only of the Moscow Kremlin, but of the whole of Russia. The clock was constantly being modernized, and today we see the chimes made by Danish watchmakers - the Butenop brothers in 1852.
The history of the melodies played by the chimes is interesting. In 1770, the chimes began ringing the Austrian melody "Ah, my dear Augustine", because the German master watchmaker loved it very much. The melody sounded for almost a year, and this was the only time the chimes rang back a foreign melody.
At the behest of Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich, the chimes began to ring out the hymn "Our Lord is Glorious in Zion" (music by Dmitry Bortnyansky) and the march of the Preobrazhensky Life Guards Regiment.
After the revolution, in accordance with the wishes of V.I. Lenin at 12 o'clock the bells rang "Internationale", and at 24 o'clock - "You fell a victim ...." (in honor of those buried in Red Square).
In 1932, at the direction of I.V. Stalin's execution of the funeral march was canceled, only the "Internationale" remained.
In 1996, during the inauguration of B.N. Yeltsin, the chimes, which had been silent for 58 years, began to play again. At noon and midnight, the bells began to perform Glinka's Patriotic Song, and at 3 am and 9 pm, the chorus's melody, Glory, from his opera A Life for the Tsar.
The last major restoration of the chimes was carried out in 1999, and as a result, instead of the “Patriotic Song”, the chimes began to play the anthem of the Russian Federation. At noon and midnight the anthem of the Russian Federation is performed, and at 3, 9, 15, 21 o'clock - the melody of the chorus "Glory" from Glinka's opera "A Life for the Tsar".
Until 1935, a two-headed eagle flaunted on the Spasskaya Tower. In 1935, the first star appeared - a copper one, covered with gilding and with a hammer and sickle made of Ural gems. However, this star quickly faded, and moreover, it was very bulky. In 1937, the star was replaced by a ruby, luminous one, and the former copper star is now located on the spire of the building of the Northern River Station in Moscow.