In the Ivanovskaya Square of the Moscow Kremlin one can see a curious piece of the Russian artillery and foundry work – a giant cannon cast by Andrei Chokhov at the Pushechny (Gun) Dvor in 1586. In the late Middle Ages such cannons were used for bombing the besieged towns with stone balls.
In the time of their active use such cannons were called bombards. Actually, they replaced catapults, which were known from the time of Ancient Greece. They were brought to the besieged town, put on the earthen ramps, and supported from behind by a wooden anti-recoil stockade; stone balls were used for bombing. Surely, there was no question of aimed fire.
The biggest gun in Russia weighs about 40 tons. Its length is 5.34 m., external diameter of the barrel is 1.2 m and internal diameter of the barrel is 890 mm. When the Tsar Cannon became the monument, a gun carriage was cast at the Baird foundry in St. Petersburg in 1835.
The cast-iron balls of impressive size are at the foot of the Tsar Cannon, but they are also decorative. Because of their weight, 1.97 tons (twice as heavy as stone balls), the Tsar Cannon couldn’t shoot with the balls. Nevertheless, the examinations of the gun`s barrel prove that the Tsar Cannon made at least one shot and that it was successful.
The name of the cannon is related with the image of the tsar Fyodor Ivanovich on horseback, the last of the Ryurik dynasty ruling over Russia for more than seven hundred years. Beneath the image is the inscription «By the grace of God, Tsar, Grand Duke Fyodor Ivanovich, the sovereign of All Russia.»