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The Spasskaya Tower was built in 1491 by an Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solari. Initially, it was named the Frolovskaya Tower after the Church of Frol and Lavr in the Kremlin (no longer there). The tower's modern name comes from the icon of Spas Nerukotvorny (The Saviour Not Made by Hands), which was placed above the gates on the inside wall in 1658 (it was removed in 1917) and the wall-painted icon of Spas Smolensky (Smolensky Saviour), which was created in the 16th century on the outside wall of tower (plastered over in 1937, reopened and restored in 2010). The Spasskaya Tower was the first one to be crowned with the hipped roof in 1624–1625 by architects Bazhen Ogurtsov and Christopher Galloway (a Scottish architect and clockmaker). 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 (Кремлёвские куранты) and they designate official Moscow Time.
On top of the gates of the tower there was inscribed the following inscription: IOANNES VASILII DEI GRATIA MAGNUS DUX VOLODIMERIAE, MOSCOVIAE, NOVOGARDIAE, TFERIAE, PLESCOVIAE, VETICIAE, ONGARIAE, PERMIAE, BUOLGARIAE ET ALIAS TOTIUSQ(UE) RAXIE D(OMI)NUS, A(N)NO 30 IMPERII SUI HAS TURRES CO(N)DERE F(ECIT) ET STATUIT PETRUS ANTONIUS SOLARIUS MEDIOLANENSIS A(N)NO N(ATIVIT) A(TIS) D(OM)INI 1491 K(ALENDIS) M(ARTIIS) I(USSIT) P(ONERE). (Ivan Vasiliyevich, by the grace of God Grand Duke of Vladimir, Moscow, Novgorod, etc. etc.)
In 1935, the Soviet government installed a red star instead of a two-headed eagle on top of the Spasskaya Tower. The height of the tower with the star is 71 m. In August 2010 the icon of Smolensk Saviour was uncovered and restored above the gate.
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- O.A. Belobrova. Latin inscription on the Frolov Spasskie gates of the Moscow Kremlin and its fate in the Old Russian literacy. GMMK. Materials and researches. New attributions. 1987, issue 5. p.51-57
- Moscow Kremlin Museum
- Website of President of Russia
- Spasskaya Tower on World-Art.ru
- Spasskaya Tower on Rusarh.ru
- Clock of Spasskaya Tower