Many people have heard of the old Ural city of Nevyansk (85 km north of Yekaterinburg) only thanks to its leaning tower, which has a 1.85-meter slant that is visible from far away. Who built it and when is no longer known. According to some sources, in the 1720s an industrialist named Akinfiy Demidov commissioned a house for his family to be built here, along with a bell tower for the nearby wooden Transfiguration Church. The tower also housed his office. Nowadays, it is a museum that is open to all. If you happen to be in the area, check out the English tower clock, which is still in working order and plays 18 different melodies.
But why is Nevyansk’s bell tower leaning? No one knows exactly, but the main theory is that it was meant to be that way. The 57-meter tower has a square base with three octagonal sections, each smaller than the previous one, sitting on top of it. The tower ends in a cone with a weather vane that always shows the direction of the wind even when it is barely blowing. Had the tower merely slanted, the weather vane would have stood still.
As you might know, Moscow is not the only city in Russia that has a kremlin. And in Kazan’s kremlin, you can find a leaning watchtower from the 17th century. Just as with the Tower of Nevyansk, we do not know when it was built or who its architect was, but legend has it that the tower was named after the ruler of the Kazan Khanate, Suyumbike (which translates as "beloved mistress"). The story goes like this: Ivan the Terrible wanted to marry her, she rejected him and then he then presented her with an ultimatum that she either marry him or the city would be destroyed. Suyumibike gave in to save the city, asking only that a tower be constructed as a gift to her. A seven-tier tower was erected in seven days, and after the wedding she climbed to the top of it and jumped off.
Historians believe the 58-meter tower first began to lean because the oak piles at its base were not been driven deep enough and over time sank into the ground under its weight. As a result, the tower tilts almost two meters to the side. Its lower tier has since been reinforced with steel banding to prevent the tower from falling over. Today it serves as a minaret.
The ancient village of Kideksha is located next to Suzdal but attracts far fewer tourists than its famous neighbor even though there is a lot to see here! Wooden huts with carved platbands, an old white-stone church dating back to the mid-12th century and even a leaning tower built in the 18th century.
The tower’s slant is mostly likely caused by sinking ground under the tower. Unfortunately, entering it is not allowed due to safety concerns.
The 1,000-ruble banknote depicts John the Baptist Church in Yaroslavl, which was built in the late 17th century on the banks of the Kotorosl River. In the 1930s, there was a forge in the church’s bell tower. Historians believe this caused the foundation give in, and the building developed a one meter slant. Fortunately, the problem was spotted fairly early on. In the 1950s, the foundations of the building were strengthened, the 45-meter tower was (almost) restored to its upright position and the building was awarded the status of a heritage site.
The small merchant town of Solikamsk, located 200 km north of Perm, has an unusual 57-meter-tall building: the Cathedral Bell Tower with a tilt of about 1.5 meters.
Construction of the bell tower began in the fall of 1713 but went very slowly due to bad weather, and then the work was postponed altogether until spring. During that time, the soil beneath eroded, causing the tower to tilt, and this was how it was completed. Interestingly, the tower is built on top of different chambers with two-stories on one side and four-stories on the other. This made it possible to fit the bell tower into the hilly topography of the Solikamsk central square. Today it houses a museum and an observation deck.
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