One of the exhibits that attracts the attention of visitors to the Moscow Kremlin is undoubtedly the Tsar Cannon, a monument of the foundry art of Russian craftsmen of the 16th century. History has preserved the name of its creator - the foundry worker Andrey Chokhov, who worked at the Cannon Yard in Moscow for over 40 years. The cannon is richly decorated with ornaments and inscriptions, one of which reads: "The cannon was made by the cannon writer Ondrej Chokhov."
Master Chokhov has cast over twenty heavy weapons in his life. Among them, for example, the seven-ton "Troilus" pishchal. Later Chokhov also took up bell casting. He casted bells for the Trinity-Sergius Lavra and the Moscow Kremlin. But, the Tsar Cannon is the most famous work of Chokhov. The last time his name was mentioned in documents from 1629. Probably at this time he died or retired.
The cannon was cast in 1586 by order of Tsar Fyodor, the son of Ivan the Terrible. It was supposed to become not so much a real combat weapon as a symbol of the military might of the Russian State.
Indeed, the very appearance of the gun could not fail to command respect: the length of the gun is 5 meters 34 centimeters, the weight, as indicated on the barrel, 2, 400 pounds - almost 40 tons. She could shoot cannonballs weighing up to 1 ton. True, no information has survived that the Tsar Cannon was ever used in the course of hostilities.
However, it was initially assumed that the gun would be used for its intended purpose: Moscow received news that the Crimean Khan was preparing a campaign against the city. The Tsar Cannon was supposed to protect the Spassky Gate and the crossing over the Moskva River.
Currently, the Tsar Cannon is located on Ivanovskaya Square, next to the Ivan the Great Bell Tower and the Church of the Twelve Apostles. However, over four and a half centuries, the gun changed its location more than once. Initially, it was installed on the Execution Ground, then it was moved to the courtyard of the Arsenal, in the 19th century to the Armory Chamber. It was only in 1960 that it was moved to its present location - to the northern facade of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.
There are four cannonballs next to the cannon; they are decorative and made in the 19th century at the St. Petersburg plant of Byrd. It was simply impossible to shoot with nuclei of this diameter and weight. In the fire of 1812, the wooden carriage burned down, a new carriage and cannonballs were brought to Moscow from St. Petersburg in 1835.
Installing a cannon on a new carriage required a lot of effort and skill. It is interesting that the auction was won by the peasant Mikhail Vasiliev, who estimated the work at 1, 400 rubles. The cannon was safely installed in its intended place for 125 years.
In 1980, restorers worked on the Tsar Cannon and came to an interesting conclusion: the weapon simply could not be used for military operations, as it had significant flaws. For example, the inside of the barrel was not even thoroughly cleaned after casting, there were numerous nodules and irregularities.
However, one shot from the Tsar Cannon was fired. This happened after the overthrow of False Dmitry, posing as the son of Ivan IV. In 1606 he was killed and buried near the Serpukhov Gate. It happened in May, but, unexpectedly, severe frosts hit, destroying the crops. Rumors spread that the impostor's witchcraft power was to blame. They dug his graves and burned him. The ashes were mixed with gunpowder, loaded into the Tsar Cannon and fired.