The bell is currently the largest bell in the world, weighing 216 tons, with a height of 6.14 m and diameter of 6.6 m. It was founded from bronze by masters Ivan Motorin and his son Mikhail in 1733–1735. Ornaments, portraits, and inscriptions were made by V. Kobelev, P. Galkin, P. Kokhtev, P. Serebryakov and P. Lukovnikov. The bell was never rung — during a fire in 1737, a huge slab (11.5 tonnes) cracked off while it was still in the casting pit.
After the fire, the bell remained in its casting for a century. In 1836, the Tsar bell was placed on a stone pedestal next to the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in the Moscow Kremlin. The slab is nearly three times larger than the world's largest bell hung for full circle ringing, the tenor bell at Liverpool Cathedral.
There were, in fact, two earlier bells with the same name, cast in the early 17th century and in 1654 (approx. 130 tonnes). The latter shattered during the fire of 1701. Its remnants were used to create the Tsar bell. The present bell is sometimes referred to as Kolokol III (Bell III), because it is the third generation.
For a time, the bell served as a chapel, with the broken area forming the door. There has apparently been some talk of recasting it.
According to a National Public Radio special on the bell, some Old Believers believe that on Judgement Day, it will be miraculously repaired and lifted up to heaven, where it will ring the blagovest (call to prayer).