The Kremlin in the city of Moscow is known simply as the Kremlin. Triangular andsurrounded by a crenellated wall, it occupies 90 acres (36.4 hectares) in the historic core ofMoscow. It is bounded by the Moscow River (to the south), the Red Square (to the east), andthe old Alexander Gardens (to the west).The name Kremlin means "fortress", and is often used as a metonym to refer to thegovernment of the Russian Federation and the Russian President.
Cathedral Square was for centuriesthe symbolic heart of Tsarist rule. Thesquare is centered on the impressiveCathedral of the Assumption.Cathedral Square is famous as the siteof solemn coronation and funeralprocessions of all the Russian tsars,patriarchs, and Grand Dukes ofMoscow. Even today, the square isused in the inauguration ceremony ofthe President of Russia. The square isalso the scene of the daily changing ofthe Horse Guards. Clustered aroundthe square are a series of cathedrals,towers, and palaces that togetherconstitute almost the entire history ofthat period.
The Palace of Facets (Faceted Palace or Chamber) was commissioned by Ivan III. Its constructionstarted in 1487 and was completed in 1492. The palace is located in Kremlin Cathedral Square,between the Cathedral of the Annunciation and the Dormition Cathedral. It holds the imperialthrones. This brick building is made up of a single-pillared chamber atop a very high ground floor.Despite its minimal support, the main chamber covers an area of about 500 sqm; it is 9 m in height.The southern end of the chamber joins the famous Red Porch, where Russias rulers traditionallyappeared before their people. The chamber has a cross vaulted ceiling propped up by a massivepillar in the middle lavishly decorated with white-stone gilded ornaments representing dolphins,birds and beasts. Currently, it is an official ceremonial hall in the residence of the President of theRussian Federation and thus closed to the public. Only its eastern façade facing toward CathedralSquare can be viewed.
Close to the Facets Palace is the Small Golden Palacebuilt in the early 16th century. In the 1580s it became areception room of the Russian tsarinas and was thencalled the Tsarina’s Golden Chamber. The Gala Hallof the Palace was used by the tsarinas for largereceptions in connection with marriage ceremonies, forfuneral repasts when tsarinas died, and also forreceptions of members of royal families of foreignstates. The Golden Palace is less official and majesticthan the Facets Palace. The inside looks like a preciouspainted box and it seems to retain the spirit offeminism and kindness, which is so characteristic ofthe Russian women in Old Russia, whose names areremembered by their descendants. At present, theGolden Tsarina’s Chamber in the Kremlin GrandPalace is a hall of the President’s residence.
The Terem (Teremoy) Palace (Palace of Chambers) was commissioned by Ivan III, butmost of the existing palace was built in the 17th century. The new structure wassurrounded by numerous annexes and outbuildings, including the Boyar Platform,Golden Staircase, Golden Porch, and several turrets. On Mikhails behest, the adjoiningGolden Tsaritsas Chamber, constructed back in the 1560s for Ivan IVs wife, wassurmounted with 11 golden domes of the Upper Saviour Cathedral. The Palace servedas the Imperial residence until the removal of the capital to St. Petersburg in 1712. Itsname is derived from the Greek word τερεμνον (i.e., "dwelling"). The eastern side of theTerem Palace houses a group of home churches. Currently, the structure is notaccessible to the public, as it belongs to the official residence of the President of Russia.
Terem churches is a complex of churches build to the west of the Church of theDeposition of the Robe. It can be spotted by its 11 golden cupolas. These churches arelocated at different levels and connected with the passages.
The Grand Kremlin Palace was commissioned by Nicholas I.The construction started in 1837 and was completed in 1849(arch. Konstantin Thon). The largest structure in the Kremlin,it cost an exorbitant sum of eleven million rubles to build andmore than one billion dollars to renovate in the 1990s. Itcontains dazzling reception halls, a ceremonial red staircase,private apartments of the tsars, and the lower storey of theResurrection of Lazarus church (1393), which is the oldestextant structure in the Kremlin and the whole of Moscow. It islinked to the Palace of Facets and the Terem Palace.
Cathedral of the Assumption (or Dormition)Built 1475-1479. It is located on the north side of the Cathedral Square. It was theplace for coronation of the Russian emperors and tsars. It stands on the site of a smallcathedral erected by Ivan I around 1330 to mark Moscows new status as the seat ofRussian orthodoxy.
Cathedral of the AnnunciationThe golden-domed Cathedral of the Annunciation served as the private chapel of theTsars. It was raised by Ivan III in the late 1440s on the foundations of a much earlier andmore modest church and has been damaged, repaired, enlarged, and altered on numerousoccasions since then.
Cathedral of the Archangel MichaelIt is located in Cathedral Square ofthe Moscow Kremlin, between theGrand Kremlin Palace and the Ivanthe Great Bell Tower. It was themain necropolis of the Tsars ofRussia until the relocation of thecapital to St. Petersburg. It wasconstructed between 1505 and 1508on the spot of an older cathedral,built in 1333.
Cathedral of the Archangel (left) and baseof Ivan the Great’s Bell Tower (right)
Ivan the Great Bell Toweris the tallest of the towers in the MoscowKremlin complex, with a total height of 81metres (266 ft). It was built in 1508 for theRussian Orthodox cathedrals in CathedralSquare, namely the Assumption, Archangeland Annunciation cathedrals, which do nothave their own belfries. It is said to markMoscows precise geographic center. The BellTower is an ensemble with three components.All of the buildings are made of brick, and arewhitewashed in accord with the neighboringbuildings of Cathedral Square. The toweritself consists of three octagonal drums,narrowing towards the top, and surmountedby a golden dome and seven-meter high cross.Each section has cut-out windows for thebells, and the upper third has a series ofkokoshnik ornamentation.
The Tsar Bell is located between theIvan the Great Bell Tower and theKremlin Wall. Made of bronze, the bellwas broken during casting and has neverbeen rung. The bell is currently thelargest bell in the world, weighing201,924 kg (445,170 lb), with a heightof 6.14 m (20.1 ft) and diameter of 6.6m (22 ft), and thickness of up to 61 cm(24 in). The broken piece weighs 11,500kg (25,000 lb). The bell wascommissioned by Empress AnnaIvanovna, niece of Peter the Great.The bell is decorated with relief imagesof baroque angels, plants, ovalmedallions with saints, and nearly life-size images of Empress Anna and TsarAlexey, who was reigning at the timethe previous Tsar Bell was cast.
The Tsar CannonThe Tsar Cannon, located nearby the Tsar Bell, was cast in 1586 and weighs 40 tons.
Church of the Twelve Apostles and Patriarch’sPalace
The Patriarch’s Palace was built in 1653-1655 by Russian craftsmen for PatriarchNikon. On the palace’s ground floor there were household services, the second floorhoused living quarters of the Patriarch. The ceremonial chambers were located onthe first floor. Nowadays, the Patriarch’s Palace houses a museum of applied art andlife-style of 17th-century Russia. This occupies the first floor of the building.
Church of the Twelve Apostlesis a minor cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin,commissioned by Patriarch Nikon as part of hisstately residence in 1653 and dedicated toPhilip the Apostle three years later.
Church of the Deposition of the RobeIts construction began in 1484 by mastersfrom Pskov and was completed in 1488.Its name is said to refer to a festivaldating from the 5th century AD,celebrating when the robe of the VirginMary was taken from Palestine toConstantinople, where it protected thecity from being conquered.
The Kremlin Senate construction began in 1776 and was completed in 1788. It is located in thenorthern part of the Kremlin grounds, between the Kremlin Arsenal and Kremlin Presidium. It isshaped like an isosceles triangle with each side approximately 100 m (330 ft) in length, and withone side directly adjacent to the Kremlin Wall parallel to Red Square. It is a graceful neoclassicalSenate building, commissioned by Catherine the Great. Particularly interesting is the famouscircular hall of the Senate, which has a diameter of almost 25 m, and is an incredible 27 m high.Imposing colonnades run round the perimeter of the space, and it is topped by a dome containing24 windows. Sculptured bas-reliefs fill the space between the columns and the windows. Since1991, the building has been the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation.
Kremlin Presidium (also known as Building 14)is located in the northern part of the Kremlin grounds, next to the Kremlin Senate, formingone side of Ivanovskaya Square. It was built between 1932-1934. Currently, it houses various offices of the Russian presidential administration, the Kremlin Commandant’s office and offices of the FSO and is thus a highly secured and restricted area closed to the public. At present, only the southern corner façade, opposite the Tsar Bell, can be viewed.
Kremlin Presidium and Ivanovsky (Ivan’s) Square
IvanovskySquare is the largest Kremlin square.Its name comes from the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.
The ArsenalIt was commissioned by Peter the Great to serve as a weapons depot and manufactory.After Napoleons disastrous retreat from Moscow this building became a museumcommemorating the Russian victory. Most of the cannons arrayed along its side werecaptured from the fleeing, tattered remains of Bonapartes Grande Armee. The Arsenal isnow the headquarters of the Kremlin Guard.
The Armoury The Kremlin Armoury originated as the royal arsenal in 1508. Until the transfer of the court to St Petersburg, the Armoury was in charge of producing, purchasing and storing weapons, jewellery and various household articles of the tsars. The Kremlin Armoury is one of the oldest museums of Moscow, established in 1808.
The State Kremlin Palace, a modern glass and concrete structure, completed in 1961, isthe Kremlins most recent edifice. It was built during Khruschev administration to hostCommunist Party congresses and was executed in appropriately magnificent style. Thekey of the building is a 6000-seat hall, equipped either for performances or publicmeetings and congresses. The building houses 800 rooms. Nowadays, the palace is apublic building and a theatre.
The Amusement Palace (Poteshny Palace)The Poteshny Palace is situated at the western Kremlin wall, between the Commandant and Trinitytowers. It was built in 1651 as living quarters for Boyar I.D. Miloslavsky. After the owners death, theinterior of the building was reconstructed to form a theatre for comic performances that gave the palaceits current name - the Amusement Palace. Nowadays, the palace houses Kremlin CommandantServices.
The irregular triangle of the Kremlin wall encloses an area of 275,000 sq m (68 acres). Itsoverall length is 2,205 m, and the height ranges from 5 to 19 m, depending on the terrain.The walls thickness is between 3.5 and 6.5 m The wall is topped by swallow-tailedcrenellations. Running along the top of the walls is a walkway up to 4 meters in width. TheKremlin wall and towers were built by Russian masons under the supervision of Italianengineers and architects.
Spassky TowerThe Kremlin’s symbol is the slender ten-storeyedSpassky (Saviour’s) Gate-Tower named in honorof the Icons of our Saviour of Smolensk and theVernicle. The gate of the Spassky Tower has beenthe official entrance to the Kremlin for centuries.
Corner Arsenal St Nicholas Tower Senate Tower Konstantin-Elena Tower Tower (Gate-tower)Originally there were eighteen Kremlin towers, but their number increased to twenty in the17th century. All but three of the towers are square in plan. The height of the towers, whichhad wooden tents added to them in the 17th century, with stars crowning them, varies from 28to 73 m. The highest tower is the Troisky Tower (73.9 m), built up in 1495. The oldest toweris Tainitsky Tower which dates to 1485, whilst the newest one is Tsarsky Tower -1680. Fourgate towers exist, all crowned with ruby stars; they are Spassky, Vorovitsky (or John theBaptist’s), Troitsky, and Nikolsky. The distance between the towers was determined by theweapon range. The towers were built closer to each other on the most vulnerable south sideof the fortress. The Kremlin wall and towers were built by Russian masons under thesupervision of Italian engineers and architects.
The Secret Garden (Taynitsky Garden) is an urban park located within the walls of theMoscow Kremlin. The park is named after the Taynitskaya Tower in the Kremlin Wall,and is part of the portion of the Kremlin which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Images and text: InternetAndre Rieu : “Kalinka” Adriana