Russian Bells of Suzdal

Russian Bells of Suzdal

The ringing of bells in Russia is like no other bell-ringing.

But why?

For Whom the Bell TollsFor centuries, bells have been calling the faithful to church – Russian Orthodox Church. They ring on holy holidays, and at high moments in a service such as a baptism. They are town criers, announcing the arrival of an important visitor, and tolling the death of a faithful believer. It’s a musical emergency broadcast system, warning locals of natural disasters or fires.

The haunting bells of Suzdal, Russia ring in rhythms, not melodies <br>Photo credit: Marina Arkhipova

The haunting bells of Suzdal, Russia, ring in rhythms, not melodies
Photo credit: Marina Arkhipova

Ringing the BellsRussian bells sound different because they don’t swing back and forth (as they usually do in U.S. churches). Rather, the clappers strike against the stationary bell using a series of ropes pulled by hand or by foot.

There are no bell-ringing melodies of familiar Russian hymns, like the famous – “Rejoice Now Heavenly Powers.” Instead you hear individual sounds in complicated rhythmical patterns, according to sets of ancient instructions, called zvon, which were rung for different occasions. They can inspire joy, sorrow, or contemplation.

Suzdal bells have been calling the faithful to prayer since the early 1110s <br>Photo credit: Marina Arkhipova

Suzdal bells have been calling the faithful to prayer since the early 1110s
Photo credit: Marina Arkhipova

Pealing bells call believers and visitors inside Suzdal's Church of the Nativity, a UNESCO site first built in 1102Photo credit: Jonathan Irish

The sound of bells welcomes all inside Suzdal’s Church of the Nativity, a UNESCO site first built in 1102
Photo credit: Jonathan Irish

The Bells of SuzdalMIR’s Tour Specialist Marina Arkhipova, who was born in Turkmenistan and grew up in Ukraine, recently visited Suzdal and recorded the sounds of bells at the 14th century Savior Monastery of St. Euthymius.

“The bells of Suzdal are soothing, and unforgettable.When I hear them ringing, I can’t help but think back to history, and how so many have listened to these bells for centuries.”

— Marina Arkhipova


Travel to Russia with MIRYou can listen to Russian bells ringing on many of MIR’s scheduled tours to Russia, including Russia’s Imperial Capitals & Ancient Villages, which circles the Golden Ring with its 12th and 13th century churches. You can hear the bells of Irkutsk in Siberia on Mongolia to Moscow: A Trans-Siberian Railway Adventure, Siberian Odyssey: Legends of Lake Baikal & Tuva, and Siberian Winter Escapade. You can also book a custom private journey to these destinations.

(Top photo credit: Jonathan Irish – Churches, cupolas and bell towers of Suzdal, Russia) 

PUBLISHED: September 8, 2014

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