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Nestled comfortably inside the high walls of Kremlin in Moscow, is the city’s oldest museum The State Armory. An ode to Russia’s powerful and aristocratic history, the State Armory displays priceless antiquities and royal artifacts dating back to the 14th Century. Established in the year 1808, the Armory has its own eccentric story to tell.

The origin of the State Armory dates back to the year 1508, when it was used as the State Arsenal and was in many ways a workshop where traders and merchants of various goods conducted their business. It was here that items of household use, utensils, jewellery, weapons for the use of the Tsar and the Royal family were made, sold and stored. Many Russian and foreign artisans came to the arsenal looking for work and it was here that noted Muscovite gunsmiths the Vyatkin Brothers and Russian jeweler Gavrila Ovdokimov worked for a long time. The State Arsenal was also used as a store house of the all the Imperial paraphernalia including royal gems and jewellery, royal clothes and robes, and weapons. In the year 1711, when Peter the Great made St. Petesburg the capital of Russia, he made many of these artisans and traders shift to the new capital, thereby rendering the armory lackluster. It was not until 1806, that the State Armory was converted into a museum open to public by Alexander I of Russia. The final building in which the armory came to be housed was not constructed until the year 1844, when the Russian Tsar Nicholas I commissioned his favourite architect, Konstantin Ton to design a new building. Ton designed the new building in a pseudo Russian style to make it fit in with rest of the architecture in Kremlin, and incorporated some Byzantine elements into the structure. The magnificent building with its shining white stone pillars and elaborate carvings is a sight to behold.

Today, the State Armory is a veritable treasure of Russian antiquity. Housing artifacts and exhibits dating from the 14th Century to early 20th Century, the museum has it all imperial crowns, robes, thrones, weapons and armors, and ambassadorial gifts which amaze today’s visitor with their richness and perfection. The museum is efficiently divided into sections and floors based on their themes

The rooms at the ground floor of the museum some eye-popping items of personal use by the Tsar and the Imperial family. Rich robes, crowns, thrones, carriages and other artifacts adorn these sections, and it is here that you can find the magnificent ivory throne of Ivan the Terrible with carvings of war and hunting on it. You can also see the coronation gowns of some of Russia’s most famous Tsars including Peter the Great and wedding dress of Catherine the Great. The ground floor also has a dedicated section for the crowns and royal emblems of the Russian Tsars, chief amongst which is the Crown of Monomakh, which is said to have been gifted to Vladimir of Kiev in the 11th Century by Constantine IX Monomacus, the great Byzantine ruler who was Vladimir’s grandfather. The carriages and coaches displayed in another room are also a sight to behold with its jewel encrusted saddles and seats said to have been ambassadorial gifts to the Tsars from their allies.

The upper floor rooms contain royal treasures and memorabilia like Russian Gold and Silver including the gold gilded Bible Covers and life size gold dome cover from the shrine of Tsarevich Dmitry, the famous Faberge Eggs, and European gold and silver including a Polish banquet set and French golden toilet seats; and weapons like the sabers used by Kuzma Minin and Dmitri Pozharski and the helmet of Yaroslav II

A part of the State Armory is also dedicated to the Russian Diamond Fund where visitors can witness some of the most breathtaking valuable gems & jewels in the world. The infamous Orlov diamond gifted to Catherine the Great by her lover Count Grigory Orlov can be seen encrusted in the Imperial Spectre at the museum, along with the Great Tsarina’s Coronation Crown. The Russian Diamond Fund also houses some of the most impressive jewellery, including the 12th Century necklaces from Ryazan and world’s largest Sapphire.

The State Armory in Kremlin Moscow is a place one must visit to experience the lavish lifestyles of the Tsars. The richness of the artifacts and articles on display at the museum are an echo of the rich cultural heritage of Russia. Looking at the valuable items kept at the armory, you might find yourself wondering what it is like to lead a Tsar’s life.

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The State Armory

The State Armory

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