Touristic Chisinau: How the Turks’ cannons turned into Bells for the Metropolitan Cathedral

Every day, thousands of Chisinau residents and guests of the Capital cross the Great National Assembly Square others rest and admire the view from the “Nativity of the Lord” Metropolitan Cathedral Square. However, how many of you know that the bells of the Cathedral were cast from Turkish cannons on the territory of the Ismail fortress and transported to Chisinau by oxcart? We will tell you about all this in a new edition of the “Tourist Chisinau” project.

The Nativity Cathedral was built between 1830-1836 in the Russian classicist style, according to the plans of St. Petersburg architect Avraam Melnikov.

“When the works were already nearing the end, Emperor Nicholas I donated part of the Turkish cannons, which were in the Ismail citadel, to cast the bells of the new cathedral in Chisinau. A craftsman from Kyiv was invited, who made an oven right on the territory of the fortress and cast five bells, the largest one weighing 400 pudus – approximately the equivalent of 6 and a half tons,” says the guide Andrei Smântână.

Each bell weighed twice as much as its predecessor: the second weighed 200 poods, the third – 100, the fourth – 50, and the last (smallest) – 25.

When they were brought by oxcarts from Ismail to Chisinau, it was found that the biggest bell could not be installed on the belfry as it did not fit. Looking for a solution, the authorities came up with the idea of ​​building a triumphal arch, which would symbolize the victory of the Russian Empire over the Ottoman Empire, the two warring Empires during the 18th – 19th centuries.

The 400 pud bell was installed on the Arc de Triomphe – a scaled-down copy of the Arc de Triomphe in Rome.

In 1962, the Cathedral was closed and turned into an exhibition hall, and the front bell tower was mined and blown up. It was restored from the ground up only at the end of the 90s of the last century. Then, the big bell from the Arc de Triomphe was transferred to the belfry.

Next, we invite you to watch the full interview, in which you will know why the Arc de Triomphe was called “The Holy Gates.”

Project financed and implemented by Chisinau City Hall through the Chisinau Civil Budget Program, 2023 edition.

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