Moscow Kremlin and Red Square

Moscow Kremlin and Red Square

The Moscow Kremlin is a big architectural ensemble, a fortress and a historical center of Moscow, which is located on the bank of the Moskva River. At the moment it is the residence of the supreme bodies of state power as well as one of the main histrorical and cultural complexes of Russia.

The first Kremlin appeared on this territory in the 12th century and served as a fortress to protect the settlement founded on the hill. The settlement was first mentioned in 1147. The walls were built out of wood, later in the 14th century it was rebuilt using white stone. In the 15th century the whole ensemble was rebuilt the second time by Italian architects and it received at great extent its modern view. The Cathedral square became the center of the Kremlin together with the Church of Assumption, the Cathedral of Annunciation, the Palace of Facets and the Cathedral of Archangel.

At the end of the 15th century under command of Ivan III the fortress of the Kremlin was rebuilt. New walls and towers became higher and thicker as well as were tiled with red bricks. A deep moat was also dug around the Kremlin. In the 17th-19th centuries sveral secular buildings, such as the Terem Palace, the Big Arsenal and the Building of the Senate, were added to the ensemble and the Kremlin becomes logically complete. During the war with Napoleon the kremlin was occupied by the French troops. When they were leaving Moscow Napoleon order to destroy the Kremlin. Though many cartridges didn't blow up the losses were great. It took about 20 years to rebuild different parts of the ensemble.

In the middle of the 19th century the building of the Armory was constructed in the southern part of the Kremlin. The Armory is one of the most famous museum on the grounds of the Kremlin, containg treasures, clothes, carriages, etc, which belonged to the royal families. Nowadays the Armory also hosts the Diamond Fund representing the collection of the most precious jewelry.

During the Soviet times the Kremlin became the symbol of new power. The double-headed eagles on the towers were replaced with big red stars and in the 1950's the building of the Kremlin Palace of Congresses was added to the ensemble. In 1955 the territory of the Kremlin was opened to the public becoming an open-air museum. In 1990 Kremlin and Red Square were included into the UNESCO's World Heritage List.

Red square is one of the most famous squares of Moscow and Russia. The length of the square is 330 meters and its width is 70 meters. The square appeared at the end of the 15th century and it was called "Merchant Place" and only in the 17th century it became "Red" square, but not because of the red bricks but from the Russian word "krasnaya" - which means beautiful. There are several structures in the square which form the ensemble of the place.

In the western part of the square there is Lenin's Mausoleum where the embalmed body of V. I. Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, is displayed. The first wooden mausoluem was built in 1924 after Lenin's death and was rebuilt in 1929-1930 using stone, marble and granite. Stalin's body after his death was also put into the mausoleum and stayed there till 1961. During the Soviet era the soldiers stood by the doors of the Mausoleum, and it was known as post #1. In the 90's of the 20th century the post was moved to the Alexandrovsky garden and is now near the eternal flame and the tomb to the unknown soldier. To the right of the mausoleum there is the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. Many Soviet leaders as well as famous foreign communists are buried in the Necropolis.

In the southeast end of Red Square one can observe the Cathedral of St.Basil the Bleesed, also known as the Church of Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat. It is a multi-tented church which also features distinctive onion domes. The cathedral is traditionally perceived as a symbol of the unique position of Russia between Europe and Asia. The church was built at the command of Ivan IV, known as Ivan the Terrible, in 1551-1561 to commemorate the capture of the town of Kazan. The interior of the cathedral is a collection of separate chapels, each filled with beautiful icons, medieval painted walls, and varying artwork on the top inside of the domes.

There is a statue to Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin near the main entrance to the cathedral. These men were the leaders of the people's volunteer army, which fought against the Polish invaders at the beginning of the 17th century during so called Time of Troubles. Nearby is the so-called Lobnoye Mesto, a circular platform where public ceremonies used to take place as well as the tsars' decrees were read to the public.

On the eastern side of Red Square there is GUM department store, which contains very expensive boutique shops in Moscow. Next to the store there is Kazan Cathedral, reconstructed in 1993 as it was destroyed in the 1930's at the command of Joseph Stalin. Originally the cathedral was constructed in 1630 to honour the victory over the Polish invaders during the Time of Troubles.

The northern part of the square is occupied by the State Historical Museum. The museum was founded in 1872 The collection of the museum contains the relics of the prehistoric tribes inhabiting present-day Russia, as well as priceless artworks acquired by the members of the Romanov dynasty. The total number of the exhibits counts in the millions. In 1990 Red Square was included into the UNESCO's World Heritage List.

Opening hours:
Kremlin territory and cathedrals from 10:00 till 17:00.
Kremlin Armory can be visited on fixed hours: 10:00, 12:00, 14:30, 16:30.
Closed: Thursday.
Timetable is subject to change without prior notice.

Highlights of Moscow and St. Petersburg

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