The bell tower is located northwest of the “St. John” church and, together with it, is part of the architectural complex “Royal Court”. The tower has been preserved quite well, without significant changes which could depart it from its original form. It was built in 1499, one year after the consecration of the church – the date is recorded in the inscription on the eastern wall of the tower.
The tower is a high prism with a 5.80 m side and it has a square section to a height of 7 m; after this height the shape becomes octagonal, with unequal sides.
Ground floor with semi-cylindrical vault and two small windows on the south and west walls, has direct entrance on the south side. Access to the first cat was made through a mobile ladder (now replaced with metallic one) and on a fixed staircase from there up to the bell chamber.
In the bell chamber are four bells: the big one is from the seventeenth-century and has a unique sonority, another one since the nineteenth century and the other two are cast in 1979, in Targu Neamt.
By the mid-nineteenth century, the super-elevation of the tower is performed,over the last level being added a room for the fire watchmen. It is known that this room existed in 1861, the year when a public subscription list, for the purchase and installation of a large clock on top of the tower, was opened.
The first clock was apparently brought from Vienna and installed in 1861. The clock mechanism was changed, it seems, several times. The current one existing in the tower, which is not the original, was installed in 1920. The clock functioned continuously until WWII. It was repaired in the ’60s and operated until 1975. Through 1980 he was again repaired and functioned until 1989, after which it stopped. It was repaired again and restarted in 2006.
Today, though no longer the tallest building in the city, “Stephen the Great’s Tower” remained a symbol and a witness of undisputed sentimental value, finding its rightful place on the emblem of the ancient Romanian town.
- AddressStrada Vasile Alexandrescu Urechia, Piatra Neamț, Romania