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Prof. Dr. S.V. Zagraevsky


To the question of reconstruction of Alexey Mitropolit Church of 1510s

in Alexandrov Sloboda


 Published in Russian: Заграевский С.В. К вопросу о реконструкции церкви Алексея митрополита 1510-х годов в Александровской слободе. Электронная публикация: электронная научная библиотека «РусАрх», 2007 г.





The article focuses on the original form of Crucifixion bell-tower (before 1710 - the church of Metropolitan Alexei) in Alexandrov Sloboda. The graphic reconstruction of the monument on the date of construction (1510-s) is offered.


The following text was translated from the Russian original by the computer program

and has not yet been edited.

So it can be used only for general introduction.




Pillar-shaped building within existing Crucifixion bell Alexander Settlement (Fig. 1) it was in the 1940-ies discovered Psalomschik1. In 1980-1990-ies study of this building continued Kavelmaher2.



Fig. 1. Crucifixion tower. General view.


Crucifixion tower (up to 1710, is the Church of Metropolitan Alexei) dates from 1570 mi. Accordingly, revealed inside pillar-shaped building researchers attributed to the first construction period Sloboda and dated 1510-years - a time when the Settlement was built Palace of Grand Prince Vasily III3. For simplicity, we will continue to call Crucifixion tower in its present form, and the Church of Metropolitan Alexis - pillar-shaped building 1510-s, located inside it.

In the early 2000-ies of the architectural and archaeological study of the author of this article confirmed the significant time lag (several decades) between the construction of the bell tower and its restructuring.

First, masonry and mortar, and style, and execution of the decoration of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei Crucifixion and the bell totally different. In the Church of Metropolitan Alexis (as in the Church of the Intercession, Trinity and assumption of Alexandrov Sloboda), we see a soft, warm stonework, typical brick buildings of the Moscow Kremlin of the turn of the XV and XVI centuries, and for the Cathedral of St. Peter the Metropolitan of vysokopetrovsky monastery (1514-1517 years). Characteristic and mortar - with extremely high binding capacity, with a negligible content of lime sand and other impurities. Numerous white-stone ornaments and Settlement, and the Kremlin were carved so that seems like a stone "breathes". Brick decoration of churches Sloboda, like St. Peter the Metropolitan, was covered with gesso "a white stone. Unlike all the listed buildings, Crucifixion tower built of "dry" bricks, crumbling easily to a solution with a high admixture of sand.

Second, as we shall see, the Church of Metropolitan Alexei had added a belfry to the big bell, so the version on the necessity of rigging under taken in 1570 from Novgorod the great bell is very doubtful. Large bells could not fit and the sound of the bell tower of Crucifixion (there was no place for them to mount), and still housed in more belfry.

Third, the survey author of this article upper tiers of the surviving Church of Metropolitan Alexei showed the Windows of this stage was made (and very carefully) is another form prior to the rigging walls of the future Crucifixion bell. It is doubtful that shortly after construction would require considerable work to give the Windows a fundamentally new form.

Fourthly, familiarization with the soundings Astroscope and Kavelmahera made in places of an adjunction of pylons Crucifixion bell to the facades of the Church of Metropolitan Alexis, shows that at the moment of rigging the pylons of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei had time to take root in the earth" about half a metre. Theoretically it could happen in a few years (in the case of targeted sprinklings of soil), but it is extremely unlikely. The usual time so significant "growing" buildings in the ground - at least several decades.

Fifth, by probing Astroscope and Kavelmahera inside stair corner Crucifixion bell shows that in places of an adjunction of the walls and pylons Crucifixion bell on detected by probing the fragments of the white-stone basement and obliviscence brick decor of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei there are traces of weathering, which could have time to appear in only a few decades.

Thus, we can confidently date the Church of Metropolitan Alexei 1510 ties. Accordingly, this building is the basis for Dating constructed simultaneously with it4 temples protection, Trinity and of the Dormition in the Alexander Suburb also 1510 ties5.

In this article we will not pay attention to the hypothesis that the architect of the Grand-Ducal Palace and the first temple of the Settlement, including the Church of Metropolitan Alexei was Aleviz New. You can read about this in a special study of the author of this article6.

So the Church of Metropolitan Alexei was octagonal pillars of the building. In the middle of the first stage took place outside the gallery, which led the stairs, arranged in a triangular extension to the South-West face octagon (as a result from ground level to the level of the vaults of the bypass gallery octagon turned into defatigante - see Fig. 8).

The first variant of reconstruction of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei suggested p. Polonsky (Fig. 2)7. Researcher rightly believed that the Church played the role of bell Settlement. This conclusion followed and from stolpoobraznosti temple, and of its explicit purpose "under the bells" after rigging 1570-ies. But inevitably the question arose: where on the building 1510-ies was located bells?



Fig. 2. The Church of Metropolitan Alexei. Reconstruction P. Polonsky.


Theoretically, the bells were placed on the 2nd floor of the building, the cloister 1-tier or more belfry.

P. Polonsky believed that the existing body between the 1st and 2nd tiers of the building is secondary, i.e. was built in 1570-s (Fig. 3)8. Consequently, the 2nd tier, Postolovska, in the Church of Metropolitan Alexei was not. Bypass gallery is too narrow (and, as later shown Kavelmaher, intercepted two belts proemnyh links9), that is, it could be only very small bell. The question of the location of medium and large bells remained open.



Fig. Z. Crucifixion tower with the Church of Metropolitan Alexis on the inside. The section on North-South. Drawing P. Polonsky.


Believing that the famous engraving on drawing Danish Ambassador Aullville, who visited the Settlement in 1578 (Fig. 4), shows the Church of Metropolitan Alexei up the rigging, p. Polonsky suggested that on the axis of North-South was another similar pillar, and between them there belfry (Fig. 2). In total on reconstruction p. Polonsky we see dual building, which has no analogues in ancient architecture. However, no archaeological evidence of the existence of the second pillar, neither in 1940-e years, or in the future could not be obtained10.



Fig. 4. Figure Aullville.


Kavelmaher also denied the existence of the Church 1510-ies of the second tier. In the cloister, according to the researcher, the bell could not be11. After the 1980-ies of the excavations around the Crucifixion bell, Kavelmaher revealed the foundations of the belfry, and showed that a similar belfry was available and the Church of Metropolitan Alexei12. This belfry was bordered on the West side to the triangular projection, in which there was a staircase to the cloister.

Reconstruction V. kavelmaherom Crucifixion bell is shown in Fig. 5, and the Church of Metropolitan Alexis on Fig. 6, 7 and 8.



Fig. 5. Crucifixion tower. Reconstruction Kavelmahera.



Fig. 6. The Church of Metropolitan Alexei. Reconstruction Kavelmahera. The Northern facade.



Fig. 7. The Church of Metropolitan Alexei. Reconstruction Kavelmahera. The Western facade (conventionally depicted without adjacent belfry).



Fig. 8. The Church of Metropolitan Alexei. Reconstruction Kavelmahera. The plan.


As figure ulfeldta, Kavelmaher speculated that it represented not the Church of Metropolitan Alexis, and the existing Crucifixion tower13. Further conclusions Kavelmahera were as follows: since the belfry was visually separated from the main volume, under the second "tower" Ulfeldt meant exactly the belfry14.

Although this is primarily concerned with the Crucifixion bell and, accordingly, is beyond the scope of our study, tell a different point of view: it is unlikely Danish Ambassador could take extended horizontally behind the belfry tower. Most likely, the second tower figure ulfeldta - topped by a cupola Church of the South-Western corner block existing Crucifixion bell.

And if the engraving still shows the Church of Metropolitan Alexei up the rigging, the most probable following option: the bell-tower could be completed not a flat roof and a turret or cupola, and this cupola found hypertrophied reflected in the figure as the second tower.

Regardless of the result of discussions that meant Ulfeldt, that the Church of Metropolitan Alexei belfry for large bell is archaeologically sound and doubt.

Note that Kavelmaher introduced in the reconstruction of the temple 1510-ies two rows of corbel arches on the basis of their architectural and archaeological research15and a huge octagonal dome - by analogy with the Church of Peter the Metropolitan of Moscow vysokopetrovsky monastery (1514-1517 years, Fig. 9)16.



Fig. 9. St. Peter the Metropolitan of vysokopetrovsky monastery.


About the form of the completion of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei we have yet to speak, and now pose a more fundamental question: strictly speaking, in the reconstruction of the temple 1510-ies p. Polonsky and Kavelmahera we are the Church "under the bells" is not visible. Almost all the bells are located on more belfry, which could be to attach to any Church - even to the neighboring Pokrovsky (now Trinity) Cathedral.

The Church of Metropolitan Alexis on Postolovska and VV kavelmaheru - pillar-shaped building of unknown purpose with the space in the form of a "well" width about 6 m and a height of about 22 m, it "dysfunctional" terms and installation of the iconostasis, and holding services, and acoustics. Problems with "kolodtseobraznostyu" interior, does not solve any shallow wall niches or profiled cornice about half the height of "well".

The closest possible analogue of such a Church - St. Peter the Metropolitan is not perceived as "mlodzeevskii" thanks to surround the temple, "the wreath chapels". The Church is Metropolitan Alexei wall niche "wreath chapels" can be called only very tentative.

If the Church of Metropolitan Alexei was tall dominant of the ensemble of the Settlement, it stolpoobraznost (and, accordingly, "kolodtseobraznost" interior) could be considered a self-contained architectural phenomenon. But its height in the reconstruction p. Polonsky and Kavelmahera about 22 m17, i.e. it is lower and the Pokrovsky Cathedral (29 m), and the tent of the Trinity (now Pokrovskaya) Church (23 m).  

It would be much more logical to assume that the Church of Metropolitan Alexei was still "under the bells" in the literal sense, i.e. had a stage (or stages) ringing. Then it could be on small and medium-sized bell, and great evangelists could be brought to the belfry.

But where the Church of Metropolitan Alexei could be a bell? In the cloister, as we have said, could accommodate only a very small, and where there were large and medium?

First of all it is necessary to consider the dome set between the 1st and the 2nd stages (Fig. 3). As we have said, the researchers considered it secondary. But the question immediately arises: why, in the building up of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei 1570-ies could be required to erect? Gallery Crucifixion bell - outside, the bells is much higher. Received a "loft", which, according to Kavelmahera, served as the beginning of kettlebell lifting boxes for hours Crucifixion bell.

Another question arises in connection with the technology of construction of the arch. On the white stone cornice, located just below, to put it would be impossible - cornice would not survive. So, for the device set in a pre-existing octagon was required deep shtroblenie walls, which could not leave traces.

Bottom traces are absent (Fig. 10). Until recently, remained the probability of finding traces of shtrobleniya top. But in 2004, clearing and study the author of this article one of probing Kavelmahera18 revealed: brickwork above junction body is completely smooth and in no way impaired (Fig. 11).



Fig. 10. Set between the 1st and 2nd tiers of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei. Bottom view.



Fig. 11. Set between the 1st and 2nd tiers of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei. Top view (folding "meter" is on the junction of a body to the wall). It is seen that the clutch is completely smooth and in no way impaired.


Consequently, the body between 1st and 2nd tier is primary. Height of internal space of the 1st tier floor-to - lock set - 12 m, i.e. it is not "well", and the room of normal proportions, with normal acoustic.

And since the Church of Metropolitan Alexei 2nd tier existed before to solve the issue on its purpose is to understand which was the entrance to it. After all, between the 1st and the 2nd level there are no flush stairs, no holes in the roof.

The answer to this question gives a close acquaintance with another probe VV Kavelmahera - about the existing entrance on the 2nd floor of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei with galleries Crucifixion bell. Under the threshold of the existing entrance clearly visible remnants of the old entrance, a little shorter (Fig. 12). More precisely, it was not even log in as "hole", as its threshold was located in the lower grades of the code, and then the overlap of the 2nd tier had to climb the arch.



Fig. 12. The remnants of the hole under the threshold of the entrance on the 2nd floor of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei.


The output from this "hole" is "hanging in the air over the Western edge of the Church of Metropolitan Alexis on the height 12 m (Fig. 17). As there was from the earth?

No trace of stair towers had not been found. Even if there was it like on the stairs in a triangular extension to the South-West face, then to move from it needed a "bridge". This design is seen too complex, and more logical then it would make a "hole" is not in the West and South-West face of the 2nd tier.

This is a counterargument can be put forward against transfers of wooden stairs to the "hole" in the belfry roof: it was easier to make a "hole" in South-West face, just above the belfry.

The answer is much more simple: to hit a "hole" used the help of a wooden staircase from the ground. For example, it was made to access the chimes spirit Church of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, and the height of the necessary ladder there is practically the same.

Perhaps the door is closing "hole", for aesthetic purposes settled icon, and then its location on the Western portal receives an additional explanation.

Now we can proceed to the appointment of the 2nd tier of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei.

Theoretically it can be assumed that it was a "loft". But, first, the Church was not "warm" and, accordingly, in the "attic" is not needed. Second, the window of the 2nd tier before rigging in 1570-ies were shortened and greatly expanded, and very neatly and evenly (Fig. 13). Hardly anyone would spend such forces and means to improve the coverage of "loft".



Fig. 13. The remains of the primary (top) and secondary (bottom) Windows of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei.


The version at the 2 nd floor of the "upper house" we can not accept: the story is not permanent and convenient entrance.

There remain only two choices, logically derived from the purpose of the Church "under the bells": 2nd tier was a belfry, or "technical" tier, which, again, is located ringing.

The bells in the XVI century were "ochadnyi"19 they called from the earth, not rocking the language, and the bell (such ropes for casting bells in motion we see even around the Ivan the Great in the famous image of Kremlinand" - Fig. 14). Therefore, often up to the ringing was unnecessary. "Manhole" in the 2-nd layer could use once in several months - to monitor the state of the bells, sockets and ecapov, replacement peretershihsya ropes.



Fig. 14. The image of the bell tower of Ivan the Great "Kremlingaz".


Now let's try to clarify, hung if the bell is in the 2nd tier of the Church of Metropolitan Alexis, or above were more tiers ringing.

In principle, small Windows are not a hindrance to the ringing of Church bells - so, in large Western chimes are often located in all tiers, including with small Windows (Fig. 15). But the sound in such cases, all is lost, so the bell is usually placed in the "deaf" tiers when they do not have enough space in the main, "open" sound.



Fig. 15. Bell tower of Cathedral in Landshut (Bayern).


Apparently, this situation has arisen in the village in the early to mid- sixteenth century, when it was necessary to expand the window of the 2nd tier. First, the bells were hung only on the belfry and "open" the top chime, and then place and at last began not to suffice, and under the ring had to adjust the 2nd tier.

So, there were "open" the top chime (at least one tier of bells). Otherwise, the expansion of the Windows of the 2-tier between 1510 mi and 1570 mi finds no satisfactory explanation.

Thus, we may say that the Church of Metropolitan Alexei was a classic "Church under the bells" with little room for service and bypass gallery on the 1st floor.

Then it becomes clear the necessity of dismantling the top of bells and strengthen the walls of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei pillars of the future Crucifixion bell in 1570-ies: dynamic loads swinging big okopnik bells, appeared to be too high and thin (not more than 1 m) the top of the pillars of the belfry, and for the wall of the 1st and 2nd tiers.

In conclusion, we give some comments on the proposed reconstruction of the original form of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei (Fig. 16 and 17).



Fig. 16. The Church of Metropolitan Alexei. The Northern facade. The original form (to make the Windows of the 2nd tier of the new form). Reconstruction of the author.



Fig. 17. The Church of Metropolitan Alexei. The Western facade (conventionally depicted without adjacent belfry). Original appearance. Reconstruction of the author.


We believe that over the 2-nd tier was at least one "open" circle ringing (option reconstruction with two "open" tiers ringing shown in Fig. 18). The height of the Church-bell from one tier of bells around 30 m, with two tiers - about 35 m.



Fig. 18. The Church of Metropolitan Alexei. The Northern facade. Original appearance. Option reconstruction with two "open" tiers ringing.


In the second case tower is uniquely becomes a high-rise dominant of the ensemble and, of course, there is a temptation to consider this option major reconstruction. But against this option, there is a serious counter-arguments. First pillar is too elongated, and the pillars of the upper tier is too thin. Second, in this case, it is unclear why the Crucifixion belfry was played only one tier of bells.

In connection with the foregoing, we accept the option of reconstruction with an "open" tier ringing (Fig. 16 and 17) for the principal.

It should highlight the reason for our choice of the completion of the Church of Metropolitan Alexei head with a dome on a drum. The fact that the construction machinery since XVI century tent or canopy (octagonal or round - not important) to put directly on the pillars of the open deck ringing was hardly possible: the pillars could not repay raspor dome. A drum is transmitted to the pillars is predominantly vertical load. The first in the ancient architecture, the example of the construction of the tent over the open call - Crucifixion bell 1570-ies.

Thus, the closest analogue typological Church-bell Metropolitan Alexei Alexandrov Sloboda is not St. Peter the Metropolitan, and the bell tower of Ivan the Great 1505-1508 years (Fig. 14).




1. P. Polonsky. Alexandrovskaya Sloboda. Special project-restoration workshop of Vladimir oberkotzau. As a manuscript. Volume 2: the Crucifixion Church-belfry of the XVI-XVII centuries, Vladimir, 1945. The manuscript is kept in the Museum "Alexandrovskaya Sloboda", the author expresses the Museum employees gratitude for the possibility to get acquainted with it.

2. Kavelmaher. Monuments of ancient Alexandrova Sloboda. Collection of articles. Vladimir, 1995. C. 75-110.

3. Ibid., C. 6-74.

4. This fact confirmed the research Kavelmahera (ibid., C. 6-74).

5. For more information, see: SV zagraevsky. To the question about the Dating and authorship of the monuments of Alexandrov Sloboda. In the book: Zubovsky reading. Vol. 3. Strunino, 2005. C. 69-92.

6. Ibid., C. 90.

7. P. Polonsky. The decree. cit., Fig. 65.

8. Ibid., Fig. 42.

9. Kavelmaher. The decree. cit., 91 S..

10. Ibid., C. 82.

11. Ibid., C. 92.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid., C. 84.

14. Ibid., C. 95.

15. Ibid., 96 S..

16. Ibid, 97 S..

17. Since the completion of the heads of churches was rebuilt several times, we consider the height of the temples not from the top of the cross, and from the top of the dome.

18. The author expresses his deep gratitude to the staff of the Museum "Alexandrovskaya Sloboda" for kindly providing the opportunity for architectural and archaeological research on the bell tower.

19. Kavelmaher. Methods of bells and old bell tower. In the book: The bells. History and modernity. Collection of articles. M., 1985. C. 36-50.



Moscow, 2005.


© Sergey Zagraevsky



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