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The Kremlin


The Kremlin directions
A monument which signifies strength, power and resilience, The Kremlin in Moscow is an awe-inspiring place. The best known amongst all other Russian and Moscow must-see destinations, Kremlin has defied the wear and tear of the centuries that it has stood there, guarding the city of Moscow like a sentinel against all harm. Some would say that the Kremlin is a physical example of the Russian spirit itself – Bold, beautiful, serene and individualistic. The rising onion shaped domes of the many cathedrals enclosed within the Kremlin, are a sight which has become synonymous with the Russian architecture and heritage.

The name Kremlin essentially means citadel, and the one at Moscow is the most well known in the entire world. Kremlin at Moscow too served as a citadel in the medieval times; it was a self-contained city which had its own cathedrals, armories, palaces. The history of the Kremlin goes back to the 11th Century, when the first records of a fortress on a hill overlooking the confluence of Rivers Neglinnaya and Moskva have been discovered. At that time the Kremlin was more of a hunting lodge for Prince Yuri Dolgoruky; it was Prince Yuri who was responsible for the expansion of his place of residence into a growing, thriving fortress city in the 12th Century. The Kremlin came to acquire its name in the year 1331, and at that time the citadel was largely made up of wooden structures. It was not until mid 14th century, that the Kremlin became the center for the Russian Orthodox Church. The reign of Grand Prince Ivan III in the 15th Century brought about a series of renovations in the Kremlin, as he invited a number of architects and designers from Italy. By this time, the rule of Muscovites had extended all over Russia and the Kremlin was catapulted into a place of prominence as the chosen seat of power for the Russian rule. It was an ideal place for a ruling government; it was very strategically located, had two rivers guarding its entry, along with moats and high walls. The Kremlin enjoyed glory days till the time Peter the Great ascended the throne, as he shifted the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg, thereby bringing about a temporary halt in the Kremlin’s popularity. It was not until the year 1918, when the Bolsheviks shifted the action back to Moscow that Kremlin regained its lost glory.

The Kremlin which lies in the heart of Moscow today serves as the residence and office of the Russian Federation President, Vladimir Putin. Ever since the capital has shifted back of to the city, Kremlin has been enjoying a prestigious fate, which a monument of its stature deserves.

It would be safe to say that Kremlin is the epitome of all things Russian – it preserves ancient Russian history and heritage, arts and crafts, and Russian monuments dating back to the 15th Century. Kremlin which is triangular in shape and covers an area of 68 acres within its walls encloses within them some of Russia’s most striking tourist destinations. This includes numerous palaces, cathedrals, government offices, museums and armories, which made up this self-sufficient citadel in the olden days.

Right at the centre of the Kremlin is the Cathedral Square, surrounded by the famous monuments of the Kremlin; it is the Cathedral Square which serves as the focal point for this walled city. The Square served as a forum for public speeches, coronations, assemblies, and announcements for centuries together. Even today, when a visitor beholds the Cathedral Square, he gets transported back into the days when the Tsars ruled Russia.

One of the oldest and largest structures built around the Cathedral Square is the Assumption Cathedral, originally commissioned to be built by Ivan I in 1330 to serve as the seat of Russian Orthodox Church. It was much later during the reign of Ivan the Great, that the cathedral got redesigned to its current beauty. Restructured by a team of Italian designers, the Assumption Cathedral is known for its spectacular frescoes, images, icons and the magnificent Throne of Monomakh. In addition, the Assumption Cathedral has also seen a number of coronations, victory celebrations as well as funerals. It was here, standing on the Cathedral’s steps that Ivan the Great tore the pact concerning Russian princes’ allegiance to the Mongols.

The second oldest Cathedral edging the square is the Cathedral of Annunciation. Having an interesting history, this nine golden domed and gilded cathedral, was once upon a time only a three domed structure. The Cathedral served as the private worship place for the Russian Tsars. In the year 1572 a porch was built in the cathedral for the use of the then Tsar Ivan the Terrible. Following the church’s ban on his entry into the cathedral due to a fourth marriage, a compromise in the form of this porch was struck, from where the Tsar could pay his respects to Gods without actually entering the church.

Ivan the Great Belltower is another landmark in the Kremlin, and it is said that it marks the exact centre of the city of Moscow. Reaching a soaring height of 81 meters, the Belltower was the tallest monument in the whole of Russia for a long time. Due to its height and its shining golden cupola, Ivan the Great Belltower dominates the landscape at Kremlin. The Kremlin also houses the largest bell in the world, the Tsar Bell which at 200 tons of weight and a height of 20 feet is a sight to behold. The Tsar Cannon, which is world’s largest cannon is situated next to the Czar Bell and measures a good five meters in length and has the caliber of 890 mm.

The Cathedral of Archangel Michael is the place where the tombs of Russian Tsars and princes lay. This Italian architecture wonder in the heart of Kremlin served as the burial ground for the royalty for many years. Another noteworthy monument is the Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles and The Patriarch’s Palace. This single structure constituted the seat of the Patriarchs of Russian Orthodox Church, built by Patriarch Nikon in the 17th Century; this building now serves as a Museum of 17th Century Art and Royal memorabilia.

Amongst other monuments enclosed within the Kremlin walls are the Armory. Built in the 16th Century to serve as a storehouse for the Russian weapons, the Armory grew into becoming a workshop and warehouse for all kinds of precious items. Today, the Armory serves as a Museum displaying beautiful articles from the Russian past including the Faberge eggs, and chalice of Yuri Dolgoruki. Next door to the Armory is the Diamond Treasury which plays host to the notorious 190 carat Orlov Diamond. Serving as the headquarters for the Kremlin Guard, is the Kremlin Arsenal which commissioned by Peter the Great. The Arsenal was supposed to function as a store house and workshop for Russian weapons; following Napoleon’s hasty retreat from Moscow, the Arsenal became a museum displaying the victory of the Russians over Bonaparte’s men.

There are a number of palaces situated within the Kremlin, out of which Terem, Faceted and the Great Kremlin Palace are the most noteworthy. These glorious palaces, though not very magnificent from the outside, present some of the most spectacular interior design. The Terem Palace was the residence of the Royalty, whereas the Faceted Palace, ordered to be built by Ivan III was used as a place to hold gatherings, social functions and feasts. Today the Faceted Palace holds the Imperial Thrones of Russia. The Great Kremlin Palace on the other hand links the other two palaces and was commissioned to be built by Nicholas I in the 19th Century and sports an ornate décor with lavish reception halls, a magnificent red staircase, and private residence of the tsars.

With so many sights to behold and things to see, the Kremlin in Russia becomes one of the most intriguing, historically and culturally rich places in the world. Taking a tour through Kremlin is like witnessing the turn of the centuries in Russia, and the changes it brought along with it. Overlooking the Red Square, the Kremlin with its glistening gilded domes forms the heart of Moscow. It is from this citadel that the city of Moscow was born and grew into the global power it has become today.

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The Kremlin

The Kremlin

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