JUN 20,2014 - JUN 20,2014 (1 DAYS)
Moscow Kremlin (Moskovsky Kreml) (Московский Кремль):
Attractions: The Kutafiya Tower, The Trinity Tower, The State Kremlin Palace, The Arsenal, The Senate, Tsar Cannon, The Patriarch's Palace, The 12 Apostles' Church, The One-Pillar Chamber, The Archangel's Cathedral, The Ivan-the-Great Bell Tower, Belfry Assumption, The Filaret Annex, The Tsar Bell, The Annunciation Cathedral, The Terem Palace, The Assumption Cathedral, The Faceted Chamber, The Church of Laying Our Lady Holy Robe, The Grand Kremlin Palace, The Secret Tower, The Water-Supplying Tower, The First Nameless Tower, The Armoury Museum, The Diamonds Fund, The Borovitskaya (Saviour) Tower, The Secret Garden, The Tsar Cannon, The Saviour Tower, Alexander Gardens, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Tip 1: General instructions.
Tip 2: from the Kremlin entrance to the the Annunciation cathedral in the Cathedrals' Square (Sobornaya Ploshchad).
Tip 3: from the Faceted Palace or Faceted Chamber in the Cathedrals' Square (Sobornaya Ploshchad) to the Diamonds Fund.
Tip 4: The Armoury Museum.
Tip 5: The Kremlin Gardens, from Spaskaya Tower to Borovitskaya Tower and back to Alexander gardens.
Tip 6: Tourist Hotel Complex "Izmailovo" (Gamma-Delta).
The Moscow Kremlin (Russian: Московский Кремль) is a historic fortified complex at the very heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River (to the south), Saint Basil's Cathedral (often mistaken as the Kremlin) and Red Square (to the east) and the Alexander Garden (Alexandrovsky sad) (to the west). It is the best known of Kremlins (Russian citadels) and includes four palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. The complex serves as the official residence of the President of Russia. WOW, there is just so much to see and steeped in history - if you're in Moscow you need to take the time to visit !
Transportaion: The nearest subway stations are "Arbatskaya" (Dark Blue line) (see photo below), “Borovitskaya” (Боровицкая) (Grey line), “Biblioteka imeni Lenina” (Red line) and "Alexandrovsky Sad (Light Blue line)". They are all, actually, one big station - subdivided into four stations - according to their correspondent Metro line.
From Arbatskaya station (see photo below) (the Dark Blue line):
Head northeast toward Vozdvizhenka St, 95 m. Turn right onto Vozdvizhenka St, 550 m. You see the Lenin National Library of Russia and Dostoyevsky sculpture in front of it - on your right.
Pass through the subway tunnel and you face the Moscow Kremlin.
From Biblioteka imeni Lenina” (Red line) and "Alexandrovsky Sad (Grey line) - exit to Vozdvizhenka street, pass the tunnel and you face the Moscow Kremlin.
From Borovitskaya (Боровицкая) TO Kutafya tower (the main entrance / Ticket office): From Borovitskaya Metro station head north on Mokhovaya ulitsa (Мохова вул./ул. Моховая) toward Vozdvizhenka street (ул. Воздвиженка) and Biblioteka imeni Lenina Metro station, 500 m. Turn right, pass the tunnel and you face the Moscow Kremlin.
The Kremlin Visitors Centre courtyrad. On the right side are the tickets cashiers:
there is vast garden opposite the tickets cashiers and the visitors centre:
Without online tickets reservation - it might take time to purchase entrance tickets:
• Both of the queues - might be chaotic. The personnel does not speak English.
Opening hours: TOURIST CENTER TICKET OFFICES:10.00 - 17.00. MUSEUM SHOP (Alexander garden): 09.30 to 16.30 except of Thursdays.
May 9 - closed. Note: The Kremlin is sometimes closed to the public during state visits, and other important ceremonies. Check with the Kremlin web site, your hotel or tour guide before you go.
Prices: In the tickets office / Kremlin web site you can buy tickets for: the Kremlin grounds and Cathedrals (500 Rub.), for the Armoury (700 Rub.) and for the Museum of History of the Kremlin architecture in the Ivan the Great Bell-Tower (500 Rub.).
What you CANNOT BUY - either, online or through the tickets office, are the tickets to the famous Diamond Fund (500 RUB/person), the small two-room museum with the Catherine the Great's diamonds crown and the collection of jewelry, biggest ever mined uncut diamonds and platinum and golden nuggets in the country. For that, you'll need to go inside the very building of the Armory Museum and buy tickets right in there in front of the Fund's entrance, because both of the museums are in the same building OR outside the armoury through an outside cashier - a few metres from the Armoury entrance.
Types of tickets:
-Ticket for visiting the architectural complex of the Cathedrals Square and Kremlin grounds (ACTUALLY, THE MAIN ENTRANCE TICKET) - 500 RUB (available online). For persons under the age of 18 the visit to the architectural complex of the Cathedrals Square is free of charge. The ticket for visiting the architectural complex of the Cathedrals Square allows free access to: several museums, cathedrals, the Church of Laying Our Lady’s Holy Robe, the Patriarch's Palace, museums' permanent expositions: "Russian wooden sculpture" in the cloister of the Church of Laying Our Lady's Holy Robe, "Treasures and antiquities of the Moscow Kremlin" in the Annunciation Cathedral, "Ancention convent" in the South annex of the Archangel's Cathedral. Cost of the guided tour (for a group under 20 persons): 4000 RUB.
-Ticket to the Armoury Chamber - 700 RUB (available online). For persons under the age of 18 the visit to the Armoury Chamber is free of charge. Exhibit sessions in the Armoury Chamber start at 10.00, 12.00, 14.30 and 16.30. The Armoury Chamber is open for visitors till 18. 00. Cost of the guided tour (for a group under 20 persons): 4000 RUB. Audio guides in English are available and worth the 150 ruble price tag if you're not with a group.
-Ticket to the Museum of History of the Kremlin architecture in the Ivan the Great Bell-Tower - 500 RUB (available online). NO DISCOUNTS. Exhibit sessions in the Ivan the Great Bell-Tower start at 10.15, 11.30, 13.45, 15.00 and 16.00. Not more than 10 visitors are admitted for one single session. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to visit the Bell-Tower. You can climb to the top of the the tower - 137 steps.
-Ticket to the Diamonds Fund - 500 RUB. You must have a ticket to the Armoury Museum in advance (on line or purchased in the Tickets booths). NO ONLINE TICKETS - just in the tickets offices. This price is ON TOP of the Armoury Museum ticket. You can enter the Diamonds Fund after entering the Armoury Museum or outside of it. It is a museum into another museum. They don't accept credit card.
Kremlin entrepreneurs recently reintroduced the centuries-old changing of the guard on Cathedral Square -- but for a fee. The elaborate and carefully choreographed ceremony, which involves 12 horses, 45 soldiers in czarist-era uniforms, and the presidential orchestra, is held every Saturday at noon for visitors who pay 700 rubles for a special ticket. In addition to the guard-changing ceremony, the ticket includes tours of the churches on Cathedral Square (but not the Armoury or Diamond Fund).
There are 2 entrances.
Buying tickets through the Automatic (Vending) Machines:
The big white machines are at the farthermost side behind the queuing lines. The first thing you need to know about it - is if the machine is out of tickets. These machines are for locals with Cyrillic instructions. First of all, check out if the top button is sensitive or "clickable". If it is pale and transparent -, the station is out of tickets. Try another machine. Next click the middle one of the three. Next press as many times, the brown button "Увеличить" (more) as many people you want to add to your single ticket chosen by default. Press the button on the bottom-right part of the screen "Далее" (next). Insert the amount of money written on the display - to the narrow green-lit slot on the right (accepts 100, 500 and 1000 RUB, gives change). Count down 25 seconds and take your ticket and change behind the brown glass, above which you actually can see the only thing translated here: Tickets and Cash.
Bags must be deposited at the Left-luggage office just north of main ticket office. The Left-Luggage Office is open daily from 09.00 till 18.30. On the occasion of religious services, held in the Kremlin cathedrals, the Left-Luggage Office is open from 07.30 till 18.30. During cultural events, celebrated in the State Kremlin Palace, luggage can be stored from 09.00 till 23.00. The baggage storage service is provided on presentation of the entrance tickets. The baggage storage service is free of charge. Big bags or backpacks are not allowed inside.
Show your ticket, climb the steps, put your mobile and metal things on the narrow brown table on the right side of the metal detector, your bag on the X-Ray moving belt and yourself through the detector's arch.
Taking photos is forbidden inside the Armoury or the Diamonds Fund. It is allowed into the Cathedrals but without flash.
This routine can be done in any weather - even in sporadic rain day. In case of rain - you miss the Kremlin gardens and, probably, small-scale military parades into the Kremlin territories.
Facilities for tourist inside the Kremlin are very poor. There is a busy WC in the entrance of the Visitors Centre. There is one near the Armoury entrance (near the end of our route). The problem is around the Cathedrals' Square. There you can find a modest WC near the souvenirs shop. You have to pay 30 Rub. for using it. It is always busy and concerned with a long queue of patient-waiting persons.
Just sausages and sandwiches in a sporadic stall(s) here and there. Bring sandwiches and drinks with you.
Allow, at least, 4-5 hours (including the gardens and the armoury). With the Diamonds Fund - allow additional 1-2 hours. Paying for permanent or temporary exhibitions in the Kremlin museums will add 1-2 hours more. With its five palaces, four cathedrals, vast array of governmental sites, the wall, the towers and its gardens - allow 1 day.
The Kremlin route - from the Kremlin entrance to the the Annunciation cathedral in the Cathedrals' Square (Sobornaya Ploshchad).
FINALLY, step out off the security booth. After passing the security check at Kutafya Tower, visitors of Moscow Kremlin walk over to the Troitsky Bridge connecting it with Troitskaya Tower, the main public entrance to the Kremlin. Look around, embrace all the grandeur of the walls and prepare to enjoy the most important site on your trip in Moscow and the oldest survived Moscow's structure. You are standing on the Troitsky Most (Trinity Bridge). This bridge, you stand on, is the only one preserved out of multitude previously surrounding the walls. The Kremlin was protected from flooding water from all its sides with walls and bridges.Behind - is the main entrance.
The Trinity bridge is furnished with two towers of both sides: the short (white) and the tall (dark red).
Here, you deserve a break. Walk forward to the middle of the bridge and do some great pictures with the Trinity Tower - the highest tower of the Kremlin of 80 meters in front of you - one of the nicest and most famous views on this route. Turn backward and take another photo with the Kutafya Tower and the visitors centre.
Kutafya Tower from the Trinity Bridge:
Trinity Bridge and Trinity Tower:
The Kutafya Tower:
This rather squat tower (its height on the outer side is just 13.5 meters), was built in 1516 by Aliosio de Carcano, in order to defend the bridges to the Kremlin. The Kutafya Tower, which forms the main visitors’ entrance today, stands apart from the Kremlin’s west wall, at the end of a ramp over the Alexander Garden. In the 16th and 17th centuries the water level of the Neglinnaya River was high enough that water surrounded the tower on all sides, thanks to a system of dikes. The ramp was once a bridge over the Neglinnaya River and used to be part of the Kremlin’s defences; this river has been diverted underground, beneath the Alexander Garden, since the early 19th century. It is the only bridgehead watchtower to survive to the present day, and was previously surrounded by a moat and a river. In times of enemy attack, the gates were tightly shut, and the tower became a formidable obstacle to those besieging the citadel. It is said that the tower got its name from its heavy, ponderous form. The word "kutafya" in Russian once meant "ugly, clumsy woman". In 1668 a causeway leading through the tower to the Troitskaya Bridge was built. The building was thoroughly restored in the 1970s.
Both the bridge and the tower received their current names in the middle of 17th century from the Troitskaya Coaching Inn in the Kremlin and dedicated to the Trinity (Troitsa). The Trinity (Troitskaya) Tower or the Troitskaya Tower, built in 1495, is remarkably similar to the Spasskaya Tower. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, its gate was second in importance only to that of the Spasskaya. People would enter the Kremlin through this gate on their way to the courts of the Patriarch, the Tsaritsa and the princesses. Beneath the ground is a deep, two-level cellar with very thick walls, once used as a prison. The tower was built from bricks in 1495-1499 by an Italian architect Aloisio da Milano (known in Russia as Aleviz Fryazin Milanets). The tower was originally called Bogoyavlenskaya, then Znamenskaya, and later Kuretnaya. It became the Troitskaya (Trinity) Tower by the decree of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in 1658, after the mission (belonging to the Trinity Monastery) beside which it stood. In 1516 a stone bridge was built across the Neglinnaya River between the Troitsky and Kutafya towers. Atop the tower are miniature decorative towers with weathervanes and lancet arches. A clock was mounted on the tower in 1585, but following the great fire of 1812, the chimes were damaged, and were only restored in the late 20th century. On the wall of the tower, right above the entrance gate, was an icon of the Holy Trinity served to protect the gate and the city, but it was removed in Soviet times, because this tower was the formal entrance for the huge Communist Party Congresses. The Trinity Tower is the tallest tower of the stronghold of Moscow city with, its current height on the side of the Alexander Garden, if you count the star, being 80 m.
The lane to the right (south) immediately inside the Trinity Gate Tower, runs between the 17th century Poteshney Palace (Poteshny dvorets) where Stalin lived (on your right with your face southward), and a great glass monolith of a building, the 20th century Palace of Congresses (on your left). All of these buildings (and the Arsenal, see below) are off limits to visitors, and there are plenty of guards to whistle down any trespassers. Poteshny Palace was built by Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich and housed the first Russian theatre. Here Tsar Alexey enjoyed various comedy performances; however, in keeping with conservative Russian Orthodox tradition, after the show he would go to the banya (Russian bathhouse), then attend a church service to repent his sins:
Poteshny Palace into the Kremlin from (outside the Kremlin) Alexandrovsky Gardens:
Opposite, the bombastic marble, glass and concrete Kremlin Palace of Congresses (Kremlyovksy Dvorets Syezdov) (State Kremlin Palace), built in 1960-61 for Communist Party congresses, is also a concert and ballet auditorium which holds 6000 people. The building was built at the initiative of Nikita Khrushchev as a modern arena for Communist Party meetings. Although the architecture of the projected building contrasted sharply with the historic milieu, building work started in 1959. The structure was opened along with the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on October 17, 1961. In 1962 the architects of the project, headed by M.Posokhin were awarded the Lenin Prize for their work:
Military parade in front of the State Kremlin Palace of Congresses:
Return northward along this lane. In its end (your face to the north) you face the 18th-century Arsenal, commissioned by Peter the Great to house workshops and depots for guns and weaponry. An unrealized plan at the end of the 19th century was to open a museum of the Napoleonic Wars. Now housing the Kremlin Guard, the building is ringed with 800 captured Napoleonic cannons. Most of the time - you don't get access to the Arsenal:
We return to the point where the Congresses Palace is on your right and the Arsenal (the southern facade) is on your left and your face to the east. We continue eastward, see and tree-lined avenue on our left and behind it - the Senate. The ultimate seat of power in the modern Kremlin, the offices of the president of Russia, are in the yellow, triangular former Senate building, a fine 18th-century neoclassical edifice, east of the Arsenal. Built in 1785 by architect Matvei Kazakov, it was noted for its huge cupola. In the 16th and 17th centuries this area was where the boyars (Russian nobles) lived. The building was commissioned by Empress Catherine the Great to house meetings of the Moscow branch of the Senate, an advisory body that she had set up in 1711, and has been the official residence of the Russian President since 1991. After its construction, the commandant of the Kremlin doubted the stability of the building's large green dome, which is clearly visible from Red Square, and the architect was forced to climb up onto the cupola and stay there for more than an hour before he was convinced of its integrity. The cupola sits above the building's impressive grand hall, which was used formerly for meetings of the USSR Council of Ministers. The building also used to contain the former quarters of Lenin and Stalin's study, under which a secret passage was discovered that may have enabled the Director of the Secret Police, Beria, to overhear the dictator's conversations. Unfortunately, the Senate is, frequently, a restricted area:
Next (more eastward) to the Senate is the 1930s' Supreme Soviet (Verkhovny Soviet) building:
President's Office is under the flag:
South to the Senate is the Senate Square with its police booth - where in February 1905 the terrorist Ivan Kalyaev, a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, threw a bomb at the carriage in which the uncle of Tsar Nicholas II, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, was traveling.
Nearby is the The Tsar Cannon (Russian: Царь-пушка, Tsar'-pushka) is a large, 5.94 metres (19.5 ft) long cannon on display on the grounds of the Moscow Kremlin. It was cast in 1586 in Moscow, by the Russian master bronze caster Andrey Chokhov. Mostly of symbolic impact, it was never used in a war. However the cannon bears traces of at least one firing. It is the largest bombard by caliber in the world and it is a major tourist attraction in the ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin:
A collection of small cannon north of the Tsar Cannon:
South to the Senate complex - you head to the Sobornaya ploshchad in the Kremlin centre, where the main sights are located. Cathedrals Square (Sobornaya Ploshchad) forms a monument to Russian architecture of the 15th and 16th centuries, and its cathedrals deserve a thorough tour inside and out. Cathedral Square or Sobornaya Square (Russian: Соборная площадь, or Sobornaya ploshchad) is the central square of the Moscow Kremlin where all of its streets used to converge in the 15th century. The square owes its name to the three cathedrals facing it - Cathedral of the Dormition, Cathedral of the Archangel, and Cathedral of the Annunciation. Apart from these, the Palace of Facets, the Church of the Deposition of the Robe and the Church of the Twelve Apostles are placed there. The tallest structure on the square (and formerly in all of Russia) is Ivan the Great Bell Tower, which also separates Sobornaya Square from Ivanovskaya Square. Cathedral Square is famous as the site of solemn coronation and funeral processions of all the Russian tsars, patriarchs, and Grand Dukes of Moscow. Even today, the square is used in the inauguration ceremony of the President of Russia. The square is also the scene of the daily changing of the Horse Guards (a spectacular imperial tradition restored in the 21st century). Occasionally, operas (such as Boris Godunov) are performed in the majestic setting of the historic cathedrals as well. Since the late 14th century, a church has stood at the southwest corner of Sobornaya Ploshchad. The first was a wooden church, constructed by Vasily I, which was rebuilt over five years in the late 15th century by Ivan III. Initially, the Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral was the personal chapel of the royal family. After Ivan the Terrible took power, it was extended and the Archangel Gabriel Chapel was added. This was so he could watch services in the main church, which he was forbidden to enter under Orthodox rules. These rules stated that a person who had married more than three times was not allowed to enter the main body of a church. The venerated icons of Theophanes the Greek, the great artist, are housed here:
Left: Assumption Cathedral, Right: Ivan the Great Bell Tower:
Moscow Kremlin: Left - Ivan the Great Bell Tower. Right: the Archangel Cathedral:
Left - the Annunciation Cathedral. Right: the Faceted Chambre:
Cathedral Square is also definitely worth of visiting from April to October, when the demonstration of the ceremonial of the equestrian and pedestrian procession of the President regiment takes place on Saturdays, at 12.00, in the very heart of the Moscow Kremlin. A hint: try towards sunset when the crowds have disappeared.
The Sobornaya Ploshchad hosts the following buildings - clockwise:
North - the Patriarch's Palace, the 12 Aposteles church and the one-pillar chamber.
East - the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, the Assumption Belfry and the Filaret Annex.
South-East - the Archangel's Cathedral.
South-West - the Annunciation cathedral.
West - the Faceted Chamber, Church of the Deposition of the Robe (Church of Laying our Lady's Holy Robe).
North-West - the Assumption cathedral.
The Patriarch's Palace was erected in 1653-1655 by Russian masters on Patriarch Nikon’s order on the place of more ancient constructions of the Metropolitan and later Patriarch's Estate in the Moscow Kremlin. The Patriarch's Palace is one of the best and rarest monuments of Moscow mid XVII century's civil architecture. The palace and the domestic church of the Twelve Apostles adjoining it make an integral architectural set. The white-stone decoration of the walls of the Patriarch’s Palace is in perfect harmony with the décor of the other architectural monuments in Cathedral Square. The Palace’s numerous halls are connected by vestibules and passages. In keeping with tradition, the ground floor was used for household needs and services; gala halls (chambers) and the domestic church were on the first floor, and the patriarch’s living apartments on the second. In 1721, the palace became the seat of the Moscow Holy Synod. The palace was repeatedly rebuilt in the 18th-19th centuries and the medieval decoration of its interior has not been preserved. The museum, which has been opened here, is based on the Moscow Kremlin collection. It contains objects, which characterize the 17th-century life-style of the top layers of Russian society (both secular and religious).
The Patriarch's Palace and the Twelve Apostles' Church - Southern facade:
1. Entrance to the Patriarch's Palace
2. Small anteroom
3. Front anteroom
5. The Twelve Apostles' Church
7. Altar vault
8. Living Quarters
9. Cross Chamber
10. Furnace for preparing chrism
The Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles (церковь Двенадцати Апостолов) forms part of the same building as the Patriarch's Palace. The small five-domed Church of the Twelve Apostles was built in 1635-1656 by Russian craftsmen Antip Konstantinov and Bazhen Ogurtsov on the orders of Patriarch Nikon whose tenure as head of the Russian Church was marked by the schism that separated the Old Believers from the official church, and by ongoing conflict with Tsar Aleksei. Patriach Nikon summoned the best architects, painters, goldsmiths and stone-carvers to do the job. In two years the palace of the High Priest was not inferior to the Tsar’s residence as regards its size, architectural aspect and exuberant decoration. This was consistent with the Patriarch’s political credo declaring the superiority of “Priesthood over Tsardom”. The site of the Palace dates back further, however. Since the early 14th Century this plot of land had been the Metropolitan's, and then the Patriarch's estate. The Cathedral forms the grand entrance to the luxurious Palace, and was built on Nikon's own initiative - the atrium of the church led directly to the Patriarch's stone cell. The design of the Cathedral is based on the old churches of Vladimir and Suzdal, with four supporting columns, five cupolas, and a high, two-tiered porch on the northern face. Although the smooth, somewhat austere exterior of the building is unobtrusive, the original interiors of the Palace were reportedly astonishingly lavish, rivaling the Tsar's own Terem Palace in luxury and wealth. The church is almost as prominent as neighboring grand cathedrals of the 15th century, due to its placement upon a high podium, pierced by two large arches allowing passage from the Cathedral Square to the patriarch's courtyard. The exterior walls are decorated with two belts of columned arches which reference both the neighboring cathedrals of the Cathedral Square and the great churches of the 12th-century Vladimir-Suzdal school which had been their inspiration. The rigorous outline of five helmeted domes, in keeping with Nikon's conservative architectural tastes, serves to accentuate the church's Byzantine pedigree. The patriarchal residence was seriously damaged when the Bolsheviks shelled the Kremlin in October 1917. Subsequently the church was restored in order to accommodate the applied arts museum. Very little subsists of its original murals, yet there is a delightful 17th-century iconostasis, salvaged from the Ascension Convent cathedral upon its demolition by the Bolsheviks and displaying many fine old icons, notably those by Fyodor Zubov and Simon Ushakov (see below).
The Twelve Apostles' Church - Eastern facade:
Nowadays, the Cross Chamber, the Front Anteroom, the refectory and the Twelve Apostles' Church house the exposition, exploring the history and peculiarities of the Russian culture through the XVIIth century. Precious housewares, jewelry, ceremonial hunting equipment, ancient furniture and items of ecclesiastical embroidery presented here were created by masters of Russia, European and Eastern countries. The majority of items were made in national traditions by Russian masters of Moscow Kremlin Workshops and masters from Jaroslavl, Kostroma and other towns. They represent one of the most important periods of the Russian history that was marked with changes in the outlook and way of living of the Russian people before Peter the Great's reforms.
The exhibition in the Small Vestibule (Inner Porch) shows how the metropolitan’s, and later the Patriarch’s, residence appeared in the territory of the Kremlin.
In the Gala Vestibule, religious and every-day articles which used to belong to the heads of the Russian church in the 17th century are on display: Patriarch Nikon’s sakkos, domestic caftan and Klobuk (headgear); Patriarch Philaret’s bratina (loving-cup), the bratina and the plate belonging to Patriarch Joseph, a silver walking stick adorned with precious stones, etc.
These precious possessions reflect the tendency of the time the attributes of ecclesiastical and secular power vying with each other come closer with regard to the splendor and sumptuousness of their decoration.
The huge hall, 230 square meters in area, has no supporting pillars and is remarkable for its new architectural design and the beauty of the interior decoration. The floor of the chamber was first laid with colorful tiles and the windowpanes were of multicolored mica. Contemporaries said, “The hall strikes the imagination, there is no equal to it in the whole tsar’s palace”.
Today, this unique specimen of civil and religious architecture of the mid-17th century houses a museum of applied art and life-style of 17th-century Russia. This occupies the first floor of the building.
This hall contains articles of everyday use which were designed for various purposes: Old Russian household utensils, articles made by silversmiths and goldsmiths from both East and West, jeweler, a collection of table clocks and pocket watches, some items of the tsar’s gala horse tackle and hunting gear, etc.
The exhibits shown here are interesting as the typical examples of works of art and everyday articles of the 17th century. Hence one can acquire a better knowledge of Russia’s material and spiritual culture and its customs and traditions.
The two other rooms of the palace which have retained their old architectural forms give an idea of the décor of rich living apartments of the 17th century. These are rather small rooms with low vaulted ceilings and narrow windows; the windowpanes are of colored mica. Their decoration was usually bright and multicolored: the walls were upholstered in colorful cloth, foreign fabrics, or leather stamped with gold, the floor was upholstered in colorful felt. Multicolor glazed tiles covered the stoves. Icons were given an important place in the interior decoration. They were usually placed in the “front”, or “red”, corner. Examples of traditional furniture are the broad benches covered with colorful cloth, and the big chests in which kitchenware and other household utensils were kept.
With the changes in the traditional “patriarchal” way of life in the second half of the 17th century, the interior of rich houses also altered. As one of the contemporaries aptly said, there “the old and the new met and mixed”. In a single room, alongside traditional Russian furniture, one could find a Dutch dresser and a German cupboard; portraits of Tsar Alexia Mikhailovich and courtier P.I.Potemkin could be seen on the walls next to icons. A study could have a collection of manuscripts and printed books of the 17th century (among them the hand-written ABC book by Karion Istomin, and the book entitled “A Medicine for the Soul”, and the printed Grammer Book and the Gospel), as well as some pieces of furniture.
The interior of rich people’s living apartments has been recreated on the basis of documentary evidence; genuine articles have been used.
The refectory of the Patriarch’s Palace houses a collection of Old Russian decorative and pictorial embroidery. Works of this original art produced by Russian seamstresses and gold embroideresses had different uses; among them were covers for church vessels, the palls for tombs of saints, and pelenas (altar-cloths) for the icons. All of these used to decorate church interiors at one time. Pearl embroidery and precious stones were very popular. A remarkable piece of fine embroidery work is the pelena “The Virgin of Vladimir” from the vestry of the Cathedral of the Assumption. Made by seamstresses of the Tsarina’s Kremlin Workshops, it looks more like an icon in a gold frame studded with pearls and precious stones than a piece of embroidery.
A collection of icons showing the development of icon-painting in the XVII century is placed in the church. The works of the leading tsar's isografs (icon-painters) Simon Ushakov and Feodor Zubov present the new tendencies in painting. The museum's exposition shows the new artistic taste of the Russian society in the XVII century and the singularity of the spiritual life of Rus on the edge of the modern history.
The five-tier iconostasis in the 12 Apostels' Cathedral was transferred here from the Ascension Monastery, which was destroyed in the 1920s. The Cathedral also contains images of Saints Peter and Paul drawn in the 12th Century, which were a gift to Peter the Great from the papacy. The Cathedral was closed down in 1918, and the ground floor of the Palace and Cathedral now houses the Museum of 17th Century Life and Applied Art, which contains a number of icons from various of the Kremlin cathedrals, as well as furniture and ecclesiastical costumes from the time.The gilded iconostasis of the XVII-XVIII centuries made of carved wood in the home church of Twelve Apostles is of particular interest. It is a wonderful example of carving:
We move south-east to the Ivan the Great Bell Tower (Колокольня Ивана Великого), which shows selected pieces from the Armory Museum. The Ivan the Great Bell Tower is an ensemble with three components. All of the buildings are made of brick, and are whitewashed in accord with the neighboring buildings of Cathedral Square. The tower itself consists of three octagonal drums, narrowing towards the top, and surmounted by a golden dome and seven-meter high cross. The tower was built in three stages over 3 centuries, starting in 1505, giving it a rather inconsistent appearance. is the tallest of the towers in the Moscow Kremlin complex, with a total height of 81 metres. Its heaviest and lowest bell is a staggering 64 tons (compared to Big Ben's 13.5 tons), but it is still dwarfed by the Czar Bell. This church was erected by Grand Duke Ivan Kalita, and was one of the first to be built in Moscow out of stone, rather than wood. During Grand Duke Ivan III’s major renovation of the Kremlin, he hired an Italian architect to replace this church. Construction was begun in 1505, the year of Ivan’s death, and was completed three years later under his son Vasily III. Vasilly also ordered that a new and unprecedentedly large tower be erected on the foundations of the old tower as a monument to honour his father. The new bell tower, completed in 1508, originally had two belfries on different levels and a height of around 60 meters. Because of its height, the tower also served as an observation point against fires and the approach of enemies. A new church, the Church of the Resurrection, was built next to the tower from 1531 to 1543, but already by the end of the 17th century it was used as bell choir stalls to supplement the hanging bells, rather than as a place of worship. In 1600 on the orders of Boris Godunov the tower was raised to its present height. Until the building of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in 1883, it was the tallest building in old Moscow, and it was forbidden to put up any building in Moscow which was taller than the Bell Tower. There's a popular yet disputable legend, that when Napoleon captured Moscow in 1812 after the Battle of Borodino, he heard that the cross on the central dome of the Annunciation Cathedral had been cast in solid gold, and immediately gave orders that it should be taken down. But he confused the cathedral with the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, which only had a gilded iron cross. This cross resisted all attempts of French equipment and engineers to remove it from the tower. During the retreat Napoleon attempted to blow up the tower. The blast destroyed the former Church of the Resurrection, but the tower itself proved to be extremely stable and suffered only a few cracks in the foundation walls. The Ivan the Great Bell Tower today contains 22. Of these, 18 small bells hang in the base and in the middle of the bell tower. Of the four large bells, one is named the Upsensku Bell, and weighs 65.5 tons. It rings traditionally among the largest religious festivals such as Easter, and was made in the early 16th century. Today the bell tower houses a museum dedicated to the history of the Moscow Kremlin architectural complex throughout nine centuries. The historical and architectural exposition, occupying three floors of the bell-tower, is performed on a base advanced multimedia technologies, incorporating real and electronic video series:
Ivan the Great Bell Tower and the Great Bell from the Moskva river direction:
Ivan the Great Bell Tower adjoins the Assumption Belfry, which was built between 1523 and 1543 by the Italian immigrant architect Petrok Maly Fryazin (who converted to Orthodox Christianity and settled in Russia). The belfry of Ivan the Great contains 21 bells — among which the Great Assumption bell (cast by the 19th century masters Zavyalov and Rusinov) is the mightiest of all Kremlin bells. The bell itself weighs 4000 «poods» (a XIXth century measurement weighing approximately 65,5 tons). The ground floor of the Assumption Belfry houses an exhibition hall of Moscow Kremlin Museums. Artworks both from the Kremlin's collections and those of other Russian and foreign museums are exhibited in the hall:
The first tier of the Bell-Tower housed the ancient Church of St. John Climacus. In1532-43, the master builder Petrok Maly added a belfry to the Bell Tower; in the 17th century, the so-called Filaret Annex was added to the tower's northern side:
The Tsar Bell is located opposite the Ivan the Great Bell Tower. Made of bronze, the bell was broken during metal casting and has never been rung. The bell is currently the largest bell in the world, weighing 201,924 kilograms with a height of 6.14 metres and diameter of 6.6 metres, and thickness of up to 61 centimetres. The broken piece weighs 11,500 kilograms. It's believed that if the bell rang, it would be heard at a distance of 50-60 kilometers. The bell is decorated with relief images of Baroque angels, plants, oval medallions with saints, and nearly life-size images of Empress Anna and Tsar Alexey, who was reigning at the time the previous Tsar Bell was cast. The history of Russian bell founding goes back to the 10th century. In Russia bells were used not only for the church service, they played a great role in everyday life, announced important ceremonies, coronations, or were used as an alarm during enemy attacks or fires. People could always understand the language of bells. One of the largest of the early bells was the original Tsar Bell, cast in the 15th century. Completed in 1600, it weighed 18,000 kg and required 24 men to ring its clapper. Housed in the original wooden Ivan the Great Bell Tower in the Moscow Kremlin, it crashed to the ground in a fire in the mid-17th century and was broken to pieces. The second Tsar Bell was cast in 1655, using the remnants of the former bell, but on a much larger scale. This bell weighed 100,000 kg, but was again destroyed by fire in 1701. The bell was commissioned by Empress Anna Ivanovna, niece of Peter the Great. After becoming Empress, Anna ordered that the pieces be cast into a new bell with its weight increased by another hundred tons, and dispatched the son of Field Marshal Münnich to Paris to solicit technical help from the master craftsmen there. However, a bell of such size was unprecedented, and Münnich was not taken seriously. In 1733, the job was assigned to local foundry masters, Ivan Motorin and his son Mikhail, based on their experience in casting a bronze cannon. However, before the last ornamentation was completed, a major fire broke out at the Kremlin in May 1737. The fire spread to the temporary wooden support structure for the bell, and fearing damage, guards threw cold water on it, causing eleven cracks, and a huge (11.5 tons) slab to crack off. The fire burned through the wooden supports, and the damaged bell fell back into its casting pit. The Tsar Bell remained in its pit for almost a century. Unsuccessful attempts to raise it were made in 1792 and 1819. Napoleon Bonaparte, during his occupation of Moscow in 1812, considered removing it as a trophy to France, but was unable to do so, due to its size and weight. It was finally successfully raised in the summer of 1836 by the French architect Auguste de Montferrand and placed on a stone pedestal. The broken slab alone is nearly three times larger than the world's largest bell hung for full circle ringing, the tenor bell at Liverpool Cathedral. For a time, the bell served as a chapel, with the broken area forming the door... Today the biggest working bell is in Sergiev Posad. It's much smaller than the Kremlin giant, weighing only 72 tons, but you can hear its vigorous boom during the tour to The St. Sergius Monastery:
The Archangel Cathedral is at the southeastern corner of Soborny ploshchad. The Archangel Cathedral, built in 1505-08 by Alevis Novi, was the burial church of the Tsars. By the early 16th century it fell into disrepair and was rebuilt between 1505 and 1508 by the Italian architect Alevisio Novi. The Italian architect Alevisio Novi introduced the Corinthian capitals and Venetian shell scallops in the gables. Here all the Russian princes, grandprinces and Tsars from Ivan Kalita onwards had their last resting-place. The cathedral holds the tombs of Russia's rulers from Ivan I (1328-41) to Tsar Ivan V (1682-96), Peter the Great's predecessor. Absent is Boris Godunov, whose body was taken out of the grave by the order of a False Dmitry and buried at Sergiev Posad in 1606. The bodies are buried underground, beneath the 17th-century sarcophagi and 19th-century copper covers. Tsarevich Dmitry, a son of Ivan the Terrible who died mysteriously in 1591, lies beneath a painted stone canopy. It was Dmitry's death that sparked the appearance of a string of impersonators, known as False Dmitrys, during the Time of Troubles. Ivan's own tomb is out of sight behind the iconostasis, along with those of his other sons: Ivan (whom he killed), and Fyodor (who succeeded him). From Peter the Great onwards, emperors and empresses were buried in St Petersburg; the exception was Peter II, who died in Moscow in 1730 and is here.
Exterior: For more than a century the Archangel Cathedral attracted everyone's attention with its appearance. Thus sometimes people said that it was more elegant than two other Kremlin cathedrals and its architecture was even better. Its crown made of the huge ribbed white-stone shells, is amazing. In whole, the significant architectural five-domed mass of the building, the big area of the interior and high arches – all of these were supposed to express the dignity, force and fame of early XVI century's Russia. Unlike the other Kremlin cathedrals, the Cathedral of the Archangel has silver domes, apart from the recently gilded central dome. Like the Assumption Cathedral, it has five domes and is essentially Byzantine-Russian in style. However, the exterior has many Venetian Renaissance features, notably the distinctive scallop-shell gables and porticoes.
The entrance to the Archangel Cathedral:
The Archangel Cathedral from the Moskva river direction:
View of the Archangel Cathedral from Ivan the Great Bell Tower, with the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the background:
The Tsar Tower opposite the Archangel Cathedral:
Interior: Note: NO PHOTOS ALLOWED. THE RESTRICTION IS TOUGHLY KEPT. Inside the Archangel Cathedral - the interior of the church is fittingly somber. The interior is entirely covered with holy icons. Its hall of coffins surrounded by small shrines. It was for centuries the coronation, wedding and burial church of Tsars. It was built by Ivan Kalita in 1333 to commemorate the end of the great famine, and dedicated to Archangel Michael, guardian of the Moscow princes. Though built at the beginning of the 16th century, the Archangel Cathedral was painted only in the second half of that century. Only part of this painting has survived - in the altar and on the west portal. In 1652-66, a large team of artists from Yaroslavl, Kostroma, and Vologda painted the cathedral's frescoes, repeating the motifs of the sixteenth century painting. The 17th-century murals were uncovered during restorations in the 1950s. The south wall depicts many of those buried here; on the pillars are some of their predecessors, including Andrey Bogolyubsky, Prince Daniil and his father, Alexander Nevsky.
1. Western portal
2. North-western portal
3. South-western pillar
4. North-weatern pillar
5. South-eastern pillar
6. Burial place of Prince Ivan Kalita (Money-bag)
7. Shrine of Tsarevich Dmitry
9. The King's Gate
11. Burial places of Tsar Ivan the Terrible and his sons
12. Annexe of the XIXth century
The Annunciation Cathedral is at the southwest corner of Sobornaya ploshchad, where it connects directly to the main building of the complex of the Grand Kremlin Palace, adjacent to the Palace of Facets. The Cathedral of the Annunciation (Благовещенский собор, or Blagoveschensky sobor), the smallest of the three main Kremlin cathedrals, was built in 1482. It was built on the spot of an older 14th-century cathedral of the same name, which had been rebuilt in 1416. This older cathedral in turn had replaced a previous wooden church from the 13th century that had fallen victim to the frequent fires in the Kremlin.It was where the Czars (Tsars) were christened and married. The Cathedral of the Annunciation was built by architects from Pskov in 1484-1489 as part of Grand Duke Ivan III's plans for a large-scale renovation of the Moscow Kremlin.It was originally the personal chapel for the Muscovite Tsars, and (as we said before) its abbot remained a personal confessor of the Russian royal family until the early 20th century. From the time of Ivan the Terrible’s coronation as Tsar, the members of the royal family worshiped at the Annunciation Cathedral, got married and baptized their children there. Even after the relocation of the capital to St. Petersburg, the Annunciation Cathedral remained one of the most important churches in Russia. Construction work began using the existing foundations in 1484, and was completed in August 1489. A number of the early 15th-century icons were re-used in the new building. Due to its proximity to the palace, the church was chosen by Ivan III to be his personal chapel, and a staircase connecting the church directly to his personal chambers in the palace was constructed. Initially, today's Annunciation Cathedral just three domes. After being badly damaged in a fire again in 1547, the then Grand Duke and (the first Russian Tsar) Ivan the Terrible began a restoration of the church, which was completed in 1564. Two additional domes were added on the western side. Many of the church treasures were lost during the occupation of Moscow by the armies of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1612. It was also damaged by the great Kremlin fire of 1737. During the French occupation of Moscow in 1812, the cathedral was used as a barracks and was mostly robbed. It was restored in 1815-1820. During the 1917 Russian Revolution, the cathedral was damaged during the fighting. Afterwards, it was closed by the Bolshevik regime. During the 1950s, along with the other surviving churches in the Moscow Kremlin, was preserved as a museum. After 1992, occasional religious services resumed, including a service on the Feast of the Annunciation, conducted by the Patriarch of Moscow. The church building underwent a restoration in 2009.
Exterior: Compared with the other two major Kremlin cathedrals, the Annunciation Cathedral has slightly smaller dimensions. It is also built in a more traditional style, as it was created by local architects from Pskov, rather than Italian expatriate architects. Its nine domes covered with gold leaf look especially cool on a sunny day. Its tiers of tented gables and kokoshniki (pointed arches) are reflective of early Moscow architecture. The Cathedral was built of brick, with facades of white limestone that are dressed and decorated. There are entrances to the cathedral on the eastern and the southern side of the building. The bronze doors are decorated with gold foil. Tourists enter the cathedral via the eastern staircase, while the southern staircase is the one added in 1570 by Ivan the Terrible. The relatively high entrance is due to the fact that the building was built on the raised base of its predecessor:
The Annunciation Cathedral, the Archangel's Cathedral and Ivan-the-Great Bell Tower:
The Annunciation Cathedral, the Archangel's Cathedral from the Moskva river direction:
Interior: It is absolutely stunning inside ! The interior of the cathedral consists of the central prayer area and several surrounding galleries, with the additions of side altars in the 16th century. Faded frescoes line the stone walls and columns from marbled floor to painted ceiling, their enormous faces and curved figures gazing over the central chamber. The floor is made of uneven squares from extremely rare Jasper. In the basement of the cathedral there is a small exhibition "Archaeology of the Moscow Kremlin." (special ticket required):
1. Northern porch
2. North-western gallery. Temporal exhibitions.
3. Northern portal
4. Western portal
5. Staircase to the kliros
7. King's Gate
9. Southern portal
10. Southern gallery. Exhibition.
11. Southern porch
12. Former sacristy of the cathedral
The northern (facing towards the Palace of Facets) is the first gallery space, which is entered through the visitor entrance. This contains a famous Image of Edessa icon, attributed to the famous Russian icon painter, Simon Ushakov.
The main doors are covered in gold foil, and an internal door containing reliefs depicting some of the great literary figures of Ancient Greece ( see below) separates the Gallery from the Main Nave whose floor is richly covered by small tiles of Jasper and Agate. The gallery is separated by a doorway from the main room, created in the 16th century by Italian architects using a striking azure blue color with gilt floral ornaments. Many of the murals in the gallery date from the 1560s. Among them are the Capture of Jericho in the porch,
Jonah and the Whale in the northern arm of the gallery,
and the Tree of Jesus on its ceiling:
The door wings are decorated with figures of ancient poets and ancient Greek philosophers (including Aristotle, Diogenes, Euripides, Homer, Plato, Plutarch, Socrates and others - holding scrolls with their own wise words.
Detail of the Northern Portal:
Northern and Western galleries of the Annunciation Cathedral:
Southern gallery of the Annunciation Cathedral:
The small central part of the cathedral has a lovely Jasper floor. The 16th-century frescoes include Russian princes on the north pillar and Byzantine emperors on the south, both with Apocalypse scenes above them. Also striking is the altar area of the floor, consisting of sheets of agate yellow-red Jasper, which was brought from a cathedral in Rostov Velikiy in the 16th century and which may have originally come from Constantinople.
Emperor Constantine and his mother Helen Fresco. 1547—1551:
Emperor Michael and Empress Theodora - Fresco on the North-Western pillar - 1547—1551:
Fresco from the "Apocalypse" series of painting on the Northern wall -
1547-1551 - the earth and water gave up the dead:
Fresco from the "Apocalypse" series of painting on the Southern wall -
1547-1551 - procession of the righteous men to the hell's gate:
Framed icon "Mother of God Enthroned with the child Jesus and prophets David and Solomon Interceding" - from the iconostasis of the Archangel Gabriel's aisle in the Annunciation Cathedral:
Behind the altar (where once the sacristy was located) a large silver reliquary containing the remains are of about 50 saints from different places in the Middle East was discovered in 1894.
The following detailed icons are in the main Iconstasis:
Icon of King David:
Icon of King Salomon:
Icon of Prophet Micha:
But the chapel's real treasure is the iconostasis, where restorers in the 1920s uncovered early 15th-century icons by three of the greatest medieval Russian artists. Theophanes likely painted the six icons at the right-hand end of the deesis row, the biggest of the six tiers of the iconostasis. Andrey Rublyov is reckoned to be the artist of the most of the paintings at the left end of the festival row – above the deesis row – while the seven at the right-hand end are attributed to Prokhor of Gorodets. The fifth (lowest) row is pieced by a silver door, behind which is the old staircase to the Tsar’s personal chambers. The Iconostasis is a miracle of Russian art, and its gold ornamentation lights up a whole section of the church.
The main iconstasis from the western wall:
BTW - renowned icon painter Andrei Rublev is buried here. We add this remark - since the origin of the following icons (in the main iconstasis) are (presumably) Rublev himself:
Next door is the reconstructed Red Staircase mounted by centuries of Czars (Tsars) after coronation. Also from these stairs, a young Peter the Great watched relatives impaled during an uprising that prompted him to flee Moscow to found his own capital. It contains the celebrated icons of master painter Theophanes the Greek. They have a timeless beauty that appeals even to those usually left distant from icons.
The basement – which remains from the previous 14th-century cathedral on this site – contains a fascinating exhibit on the archaeology of the Kremlin. The artifacts date from the 12th to 14th centuries, showing the growth of Moscow during this period.
We continue to the Faceted Chamber or Palace and other attractions in the Cathedrals' Square - see Tips 2,3 ,4 below.
From the Faceted Palace or Faceted Chamber in the Cathedrals' Square (Sobornaya Ploshchad) to the Diamonds Fund.
The Faceted Chamber or the Palace of the Facets (Грановитая Палата) is a building located on Kremlin Cathedral Square, between the Cathedral of the Annunciation and the Assumption/Dormition Cathedral. It is separated by a narrow passage from the Assumption Cathedral. On the west side the building is directly connected to the central building of the Grand Kremlin Palace. Named after its distinctive stonework eastern façade with horizontal rows of sharp-edged stones,
The Palace of Facets is all that is left of a larger royal palace made of white limestone. It was used to be the main banquet reception hall of the Muscovite Tsars. It is the oldest preserved secular building in Moscow. Over the centuries, the Palace of Facets suffered repeatedly from major fires damage and was rebuilt several times in its history. However, it has continued to be used for state receptions even in modern times, including the 1994 state visit of Queen Elizabeth II. In June 2012, after an extensive restoration, the Palace of Facets was reopened to public, though in practice only organized prearranged tours are available.Currently, it is an official ceremonial hall in the residence of the President of the Russian Federation and thus admission is limited to prearranged tours only.
In 1487, Grand Duke Ivan III commissioned two Italian Renaissance architects, Marco Ruffo and Pietro Solario to build a stone palace after a series of fires that had ravaged by then predominantly wooden Kremlin. The new palace was completed in 1492 and served as the most important venue for formal receptions of the Tsar, coronation celebrations, feasts, and state ceremonies. Tsar Ivan the Terrible celebrated his conquest of the Kazan Khanate for three days in 1552. Likewise, Tsar Peter the Great celebrated his 1709 victory over Sweden at the Battle of Poltava and the end of the Great Northern War in 1721. It was also within the Palace of Facets that the Zemsky Sobor - the first Russian parliament of the feudal Estates type, in the 16th and 17th centuries - which resulted in the Treaty of Pereyaslav uniting the Russian Empire with the Ukraine was held in 1654.
Exterior: This brick building is made up of a single-pillared chamber atop a very high ground floor. Although from the façade, it appears to be a three-story rectangular building from the outside, it is actually a one-story building with a semi-basement. The Chamber itself was given the name 'faceted' thanks to the main facade, which looks out onto Cathedral Square. The technique known as "Brilliantovii rust" was used in its decoration: each facing block of white stone was dressed with four facets. This particular workmanship is typical of the architecture of the Renaissance era. The Baroque decorations which are visible around the windows of the building ("Solomon Pillars") appeared much later, at the end of the 17th century.
On the palace's southern facade is the Red Porch, where Russia's rulers traditionally appeared before their people. It is an external staircase decorated with stylized lion sculptures on the railings. It earned its name not from its color, but because the word "krasnyi", which in modern Russian means "red", once had the meaning of "beautiful". In the Streltsy Uprising in 1682 several of Tsar Peter the Great's rebellious relatives were hurled down the staircase onto the pikes of the Streltsy guard. The Tsars passed down this staircase on their way to the Assumption/Dormition Cathedral for their coronations. The last such procession was at the coronation of Nicholas II in 1896. The Red Porch was demolished by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s and replaced with a canteen for Kremlin workers, the staircase was rebuilt in 1994 at great expense.
Interior: The first floor of the Palace of the Facets consists of the main hall and adjoining sacred vestibule. Both are decorated with rich frescoes and gilded carvings. The splendid vaulted main hall has an area of about 500 m². The interior walls and vaults of the chamber are covered with murals painted by Palekh craftsmen between 1838 and 1849. The frescoes were copied from the works of 17th century craftsmen. The frescoes are with elaborate themes from the history of the Russian State and the Russian Orthodox Church. This was used as a throne room and banqueting hall for the 16th-century and 17th-century Tsars and is still used for holding formal state receptions. The paintings were restored in the 1880s by icon painters from Palekh by order of Tsar Alexander III.
Faceted Chamber Interior, South-east side, 1487-1491:
Grand Duke Vladimir Svyatoslavovych sons. Painting of the eastern wall of the Faceted Chamber. 1882. Detail:
The painting of the western wall of the Faceted Chamber. 1882:
Another painting of the western wall of the Faceted Chamber. 1882:
Tucked in the corner is the small Church of the Deposition of the Robe (Церковь Ризоположения). The name of the church, variously translated as the Church of the Virgin's Robe, The Church of Laying Our Lady’s Holy Robe, The Church of the Veil or simply Church of the Deposition. The name is derived from a a festival dating from the 5th century AD, celebrating when the robe of the Virgin Mary was taken from Palestine to Constantinople, where it protected the city from being conquered. Its construction began in 1484 by masters from Pskov, most likely by the same group of architects who built the adjacent Cathedral of the Annunciation. During the 16th Century the church was reconstructed many times over, and a side chapel was added. Originally, the church served as the private chapel of the Patriarch of Moscow, but during the mid-17th century it was taken over by the Russian royal family. The church was badly damaged in a fire in 1737 (the same fire that cracked the Tsar Bell). Only after the 1917 Revolution did architects return this building to its original shape. Restoration work began in 1919 and lasted more than 40 years.
Exterior: It was built in a more traditional style of the late 15th century, with narrow windows and stained glass, the latter a rarity in Russian churches. The church is built in Moscow architectural traditions. It is a small one-domed and four-pillared church with three apses, which stands on high ground floor (podklet). The small one-domed brick church stands on highpodklet. The main cube space's top is crowned with zakomaras (arched gables - semicircular termination of walls in Russian churches). The church's three sides were adorned with a frieze of terracotta balusters and ornamental plates. The terracotta ornamental frieze goes round the church's volume and the higher part of the altar apses.
The Church of the Deposition of the Robe, cupolas of churches of the Terem palace and the Assumption Cathedral. The contrast silhouettes of the Church of Laying of Our Lady's Holy Robe and the Assumption Cathedral compose a harmonious complex which serve as a real decoration of the whole Cathedral Square:
The same small and narrow door is used for entrance and exit. It might be quite busy to pass through:
Interior: The small and intimate interior fully suits the purpose of the church. The interior walls, ceilings and pillars are covered with 17th-century frescoes. The frescoes devoted to the governing theme of the church - the Blessed Virgin. The artists Ivan Borisov, Semion Abramov, and Sidor Pospeyev depict scenes from the Virgin's life, while the fresco on the south wall depicts a miracle that occurred when Constantinople was saved from its enemies by the power of the robe. On the walls there is “The Akathistos” which glorifies the Virgin as the patroness of all people interceding with God for them, and also “The Life of the Virgin” showing her childhood, youth and death after which she became THE “Tsarina of the Heavens”. The fresco on the south wall shows how Constantinople was miraculously saved from the enemy siege when the Patriarch dipped the Virgin’s Robe into the waters of the bay. The small size of the church predetermined the composition of frescoes, which look like small icons. Frescoes are painted along the entire perimeter of the walls divided horizontally into five tires. At the bottom, the artists painted white draperies adorned with ornamental patterns. Frescoes on the pillars of the church are also noteworthy: on the south pillar the artists depicted the Moscow Tsar’s family tree, and on the north one they portrayed Moscow metropolitans, predecessors of the Russian Patriarchs:
fresco showing Byzantine emperor Michael III and Patriarch Photios putting the veil of the Theotokos into the sea:
The four-tiered iconostasis of 1627 has been preserved almost intact. The major part of its icons were painted by Tsar's icon-painter Nazary Istomin Savin (one of the most famous icon-painters of his day). The iconostasis and murals form the unique artistic ensemble. The scenes of the murals illustrate the life history of Virgin Mary and the solemn chant in honor of Our Lady - Acathistus. On the pillars, Russian Metropolitans and Moscow Princes are depicted. The interior is adorned with ancient items of cathedrals' decoration - the candelarium and so called "lean (gaunt) candles". This iconostasis is one of few iconostases created after the Time of Troubles. It was ordered by Patriarch Filaret, father of Michael Fyodorovich Romanov, the first Tsar of the new Romanov Dynasty. The patriarchal order was executed by eminent icon-painter Nazary Istomin Savin, a member of the family of Russian icon-makers. In 1627, together with icon-makers of his team, he painted icons for the three upper tiers: the Deisis, the Festival and the Prophetical row. In the lower, Local tier, the Old Testamental Trinity icon was painted by Nazary Istomin Savin. He might have created the icon of Our Lady Hodegetria, now hidden under the later layer. The artist’s drawing is calligraphically precise and truly virtuoso. The generally soft color scheme produces a festive effect, which is largely due to the use of pure red and white colors. This impression is enhanced by the gilded icon-frames. The lower, local tier of the iconostasis contains icons of the 16th-17th centuries. The main icons of the church are traditionally placed on both sides of the Tsar’s Doors to the altar. Among them are: the 17th-century icon “The Deposition of the Virgin’s Robe”, the 16th-century icon “The Virgin of Tikhvin” with border scenes painted in the 17th century, “The Trinity” by Nazary Istomin, and also the icon of the Virgin portrayed full-length in the 17th century:
The iconostasis and the fresco paintings from a single composition, which harmoniously balances the architecture.
The church houses (northern gallery) a rare exhibition of 14th- to 19th-century woodcarvings and wooden sculptures. The most ancient exhibit is the relief depiction of St. George of the late XIVth-early XVth century, one of the oldest Russian icons. Displayed here are big carved icons and small folded icons, which were usually used on journeys. These works would have come from Old Russian woodcarving centers such as Novgorod and Rostov Veliky and from Russia’s North. Such works as the sculpture of Moscow Metropolitan Jonah executed for his tomb which is in the Cathedral of the Assumption, or the monumental sculpture of Saint George of the late 14th- early 15th centuries, are proof of the high level of wood-carving. The 17th-century sculpture of St. Nicholas of Mozhaisk holding in his left hand a model of the city, and in his right hand a sword, is also most remarkable. Old Russian wooden sculpture displays distinct features of original folk art. Regrettably, very few works of this kind have survived, which makes the prospect of seeing them in one of the best architectural monuments of the Moscow Kremlin even more attractive:
Behind it you see the layered cluster of 11 domes that top Terem Palace, the oldest structure in today's Kremlin and the quarters of Russia's rulers until Peter the Great. Terem Palace or Teremnoy Palace (Теремной дворец) is a historical building which used to be the main residence of the Russian Tsars in the 17th century. Its name is derived from the Greek word τερεμνον (i.e., "dwelling"). Currently, the structure is not accessible to the public, as it belongs to the official residence of the President of Russia.
On the 16th century Aloisio the New constructed the first royal palace on the spot. This architecturally unique building was erected in 1636 by the Russian master-builders Bazhen Ogurtsov, Larion Ushakov, Antip Konstantinov and Trefil Shaturin. Only the ground floor survives from that structure, as the first Romanov Tsar, Mikhail Feodorovich, had the palace completely rebuilt in 1635–36. The new structure was surrounded by numerous annexes and outbuildings, including the Boyar Platform, Golden Staircase, Golden Porch, and several turrets. On Mikhail's behest, the adjoining Golden Tsaritsa's Chamber constructed back in the 1560s for Ivan IV's wife, was surmounted with 11 golden domes of the Upper Saviour Cathedral. The complex of the palace also incorporates several churches of earlier construction, including the Church of the Virgin's Nativity from the 1360s.
Exterior: From the outside, the palace resembles a vast, unusually ornate, Russian wooden house set in stone. Its three-tiered pyramid structure is topped by a golden-roofed 'terem' or tower-chamber. The building's facades are richly decorated with cornices, pilasters and triangular pediments, and tiles cover the intricately carved design. The palace consists of five stories. The third story was occupied by the Tsaritsa and her children; the fourth one contained the private apartments of the Tsar. The upper story is a tent-like structure where the Boyar Duma convened. The exterior, exuberantly decorated with brick tracery and colored tiles, is brilliantly painted in red, yellow, and orange.
The interior used to be painted as well, but the original murals were destroyed by successive fires, particularly the great fire of 1812. In 1837, the interiors were renovated in accordance with old drawings in the Russian Revival style. The second floor of the Terem Palace once housed the Tsarina's workshops, where clothing was sewed for the entire royal family. The private chambers of the Tsar were on the upper floors, and the ground floor was used for the storage of salted foods and other winter stores. Sadly, the old layout of the interior has not survived the ages, but in the 1830s the Russian artist, F. Solntsev restored the rooms in the style of the 17th century.
The cross chamber:
Iconstasis of Terem Palace:
North of this is a 15th-century Uspensky Sobor (Assumption Cathedral), focal church of pre-revolutionary Russia. It is located on the north side of Cathedral Square of the Moscow Kremlin in Russia, where a narrow alley separates the north from the Patriarch's Palace with the Twelve Apostles Church. Southwest is Ivan the Great Bell Tower. Separately in the southwest, also separated by a narrow passage from the church, is the Palace of Facets. The Patriarch's Palace and the Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles are next door, both part of one structure that is now a museum of 17th-century Russian life and art.
The Cathedral is regarded as the mother church of Muscovite Russia. It is the place where princes and Tsars were crowned, including the coronation of the last Tsar, Nicholas II, in 1896. The coronation lasted 8 hours and everyone was required to stand throughout the ceremony. Only the very few royal families could be seated.Royal births and royal weddings also took place here, as well as royal burials.Patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church were inaugurated and buried here -- the Patriarch's Seat is built into one of the pillars. The interior is a bit more open than most churches in Russia with more than enough points of interest to keep one busy for a good hour or so. Allow 10-15 minutes for the exteriors. Beautiful, haunting and unforgettable !!!
Tip: Time your visit in off-service-hours or non-busy (with tourists groups) hours. (my recommendation: SAT 13.00-14.00).
Archaeological investigations in 1968 indicated that the site of the present Cathedral was a medieval burial ground, supporting hypothesis that a wooden church existed on the site in the 12th century. This was replaced by a limestone structure built around 1326, which is mentioned in historical records. Construction of the cathedral began on August 4, 1326, and the cathedral was finished and consecrated on August 4, 1327. At that time Moscow became the capital of the Vladimir-Suzdal' principality, and later of all Kievan Rus. n 1472 the Moscow architects Kryvtsov and Myshkin began construction of a new cathedral. Two years later, in May 1474, the building was nearing completion when it suddenly collapsed as the drum of main cupola was being placed. In its present form it was constructed between 1475–79 at the behest of the Moscow Grand Duke Ivan III by the Italian architect Aristotele Fioravanti. The Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir was once again taken as a model for the building, and so Fioravanti travelled to Vladimir in order to study Russian methods of building. He designed a light and spacious masterpiece that combined the spirit of the Renaissance with Russian traditions. The design of the new church, with its five domes (symbolic of Jesus Christ and the Four Evangelists) proved immensely popular, and was taken as a template for numerous other churches throughout Russia. In 1547 the coronation of the first Russian Tsar, Ivan the Terrible, took place in this cathedral. From 1547 to 1896 it is where the Coronation of the Russian monarch was held. The cathedral suffered from many disasters in its history, including fires in 1518, 1547, 1682 and 1737, and looting under the armies of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Time of Troubles in 1612. Napoleon's cavalry stabled horses here during their brief occupation of Moscow in 1812. In addition, it is the burial place for most of the Moscow Metropolitans and Patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church. It was thoroughly restored in 1894-1895 and from 1910-1918. However, following the 1917 Russian Revolution, the new Bolshevik government closed all churches in the Moscow Kremlin, and converted the cathedral into a museum. Most of the church treasures were transferred to the Kremlin Armory, or were sold overseas. There is a legend that in the winter of 1941, when the Nazis had already reached the threshold of Moscow, Joseph Stalin secretly ordered a service to be held in the Assumption Cathedral to pray for the country's salvation from the invading Germans. The building was repaired also in 1949/50, 1960 and 1978. In 1990 the Assumption Cathedral was returned to the church for periodic religious services, only a few years before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It was restored to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1991.
Exterior: The Assumption/Dormition Cathedral is a huge 6 pillared building with 5 apses and 5 domes. Tombs of heads of Russian Orthodos Church are against North, West and South walls. The most prominent building on the square is the Cathedral of the Assumption, a white limestone building with scalloped arches topped by almost chunky golden domes.
The main door with its fresco:
Interior: The decoration inside the cathedral is absolutely amazing. This church is the most tourist-friendly of the cathedrals on the square, with detailed English labels on icons and architectural details, and plenty of room for groups. The church is light and spacious, unlike any of the other churches on the square -- or indeed of this period. Inside, the church decoration is dominated by its fresco painting. Most of the frescoes date from a later restoration, in the 1660s. The exhibit includes a goblet with no base, requiring drinkers to toss back a full cup of wine in one gulp. The huge stove was used for making holy oil (involving more than 50 ingredients) once every 2 or 3 years. Other personal effects include a 17th-century chess set with knights mounted on elephants. The sacred art inside is simply breathtaking.
1. Western portal. Entrance
2. Southern portal
3. Northern portal
4. Altar part and iconostasis
5. Tsar's gate
6. Burial place of Metropolitan Filip
7. Patriarchal Seat
8. Tsarinas' Seat
9. Tsar's Praying Seat
11.Marquee and shrine
of Patriarch Germogen
12. Burial place of Metropolitan Jonah
13. Burial place of Metropolitan Peter
Blessed Be the Host of the King of Heaven, the Assumption Cathedral's famous icon measuring 4 meters in width:
The huge iconostasis dates from 1547, but its two highest tiers are later additions from 1626 and 1653/1654 under Patriarch Nikon. It addition to its liturgical function, the iconostasis also served as a sort of collectors' wall, where Russian Tsars would add the most important icons from cities they had conquered to this collection. In front of the iconostasis you can see Tsar’s, Tsarina’s and Patriarch’s praying-seats. The Assumption Cathedral was the place to inaugurate Bishops, Metropolitans and Patriarchs, to read off statements, to hold church services before military campaigns:
You exit the Cathedrals' Square from its southern end, your face to the south and the Archangel Cathedral on your left and the Annunciation Cathedral on your right:
In front of you stands the The Secret (Tainitskaya) Tower. The Secret (Tainitskaya) Tower is the oldest of all the Kremlin's towers, its name is derived from the Russian word 'Taina', meaning 'secret', owing to the well and secret tunnel which were dug beneath the tower during its construction in 1485. The Taynitskaya Tower is 38.4 m in height. It was built in 1485 by Antonio Gilardi. In the event of siege, the tunnel provided a secret exit from the citadel (Kremlin) to the Moskva River. During the 16th century this tower was used to observe the land beyond the river, and it also possessed a bell which functioned as an alarm if a fire broke out. In the late 17th century, it was equipped with a tent roof. The Tainitskaya Tower has been reconstructed several times in its lifetime, and like many others in the Kremlin, it was badly damaged by explosions during the retreat of Napoleon's troops from Moscow in 1812, necessitating further repairs. In the 1930s its gateway was blocked up and the well and tunnel filled in by the Soviet government.
With our face to the towers (and to Moskva river or the Kremlin embankment) the next tower, to the LEFT of the Secret Tower - is the First Nameless Tower.It is also a 34-metre high gate-less defensive tower. It was used for storage of gunpowder until its destruction by fire in 1547. It lay in ruins for many years, and was rebuilt only in the 17th century. From 1770-1771, in order to clear a site for the construction of the Kremlin Palace (see below), the tower was pulled down. After the palace was completed, the tower was again rebuilt. In 1812, during Napoleon's occupation of Moscow, the First Nameless Tower was blown up, along with many other Kremlin buildings. It was reconstructed for the third time from 1816-1835:
The Archangel Cathedral from its southern side (near the 1st nameless Tower):
The annunciation Cathedral from its southern side (near the 1st nameless Tower):
The annunciation Cathedral from its southern side (near the 1st nameless Tower). On the left side is the Grand Kremlin Palace:
We turn right (WEST) and on our right is the Grand Kremlin Palace (Bolshoy Kremlyovskiy Dvorets) ((Большой Кремлёвский дворец). The Grand Kremlin Palace was formerly the Tsar's Moscow residence. Its construction involved the demolition of the previous Baroque palace on the site, designed by Rastrelli, and the Church of St. John the Baptist, constructed to a design by Aloisio in place of the first church ever built in Moscow. The Great Kremlin Palace, was built from 1837 to 1849 on the site of the estate of the Grand Princes, which had been established in the 14th century on Borovitsky Hill. Designed by a team of architects under the management of Konstantin Thon, it was intended to emphasize the greatness of Russian autocracy. Konstantin Thon was also the architect of the Kremlin Armoury (see below Tip 3) and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The exterior of the Grand Kremlin Palace incorporates many details characteristic of medieval Russian and Byzantine architecture. Thon's palace is 125 metres long, 47 metres high, and has a total area of about 25,000 square metres. It includes the Terem Palace (see above), nine churches from the 14th, 16th, and 17th centuries, the Holy Vestibule, and over 700 (!) rooms. The buildings of the Palace form a rectangle with an inner courtyard. The building has two stories - but the upper floor has two sets of windows (and it looks like three-storied). The west building of the Palace held state reception halls and the imperial family's private chambers.
While the Kremlin isn’t open to tourists who casually wish to visit, you can visit if you go through one of the many tourist agencies in Moscow. The trip will not be cheap, starting at around $1500 per person. The only agency with the tag price for admission of $1500, will get you into only a single area of the Palace. If you wish to see more, you will have to pay another $1500. Being Russia, all prices are negotiable, so be sure to to talk down the agent. It would also be a good idea to shop around. Several other agencies offer similar tours, but they don’t list their prices online. Unlike tours of the White House, expect to pay a hefty sum if you want to see some of the Palace’s more luxurious rooms. But, for those with the means, there is plenty to see.
Its five reception halls (Georgievsky, Vladimirsky, Aleksandrovsky, Andreyevsky, and Ekaterininsky) are named for orders of the Russian Empire: the Orders of St. George, Vladimir, Alexander, Andrew, and Catherine. Georgievsky Hall is used today for state and diplomatic receptions and official ceremonies. International treaties are signed at the Vladimirsky Hall. Such as the instance on June 1, 1988, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev signed the INF Treaty ratification. It also leads to the Palace of Facets, the Tsarina's Golden Chamber, Terem Palace, the Winter Palace, and the Palace of Congresses. Aleksandrovsky Hall and Andreyevsky Hall were combined in Soviet times to be used for meetings and conferences of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. They were restored in accordance with Thon's designs in the 1990s:
Vladimirsky Hall (source: www.kremlin.ru):
The tower opposite the Grand Kremlin palace is the Annunciation (Blagoveshchenskaya) Tower. The Blagoveshchenskaya Tower is one of the most ancient of the Kremlin towers built in 1487-1488. Inside the tower is a very deep dungeon, used as a prison during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. According to legend, the name of the tower comes from a miracle-working Icon of the Annunciation which was supposedly kept here at one time, and to which the needy came to pray. Later, in 1731, an Annunciation Church was built against the tower, although it was pulled down during the Soviet period:
The next tower to the west is the Water-supplying (Vodovzvodnaya) tower. Vodovzvodnaya Tower appeared a little earlier in 1488 at the corner of the Kremlin, just outside today’s Red Square. It stands next to the Moskva river and its name indicates “water-lifting.” A machine for drawing water was installed in 1633 in order to keep the Kremlin supplied with water without needing to expose anyone outside the walls:
On your right (north) is the Armoury Museum (see below Tip 3).
Splendid internal court east to the Armoury entrance:
The Kremlin Armoury Museum and the Diamonds Fund:
Opening hours: Daily except Thursday. Admissions at 10.00, 12.00, 14.30 and 16.30. Sessions last 1 hour 45 mins. Tickets can be bought in the museums' lobby or (better, save time) from the office in the Kutafiya Tower. Definitely no photography or video inside. They will NOT allow you in with a rucksack to the Armoury and/or the Diamonds Fund.
The Diamond Fund (Almazny Fond) holds the crown jewels, including Catherine the Great's coronation crown, the 89-carat Shah diamond presented to Nicholas I by the Shah of Persia in the early 1800s, and the 190-carat Orlov diamond that one of Catherine the Great's lovers gave her in an (unsuccessful) effort to keep her attentions. There are 2 halls with 14 showcases in which great luxurious gemstones and artwork can be seen. The fund can be visited only with a 30- to 40-minute tour, held every 2 hours and reserved ahead. If you want to visit this - make sure you get a ticket to the ARMOURY, as you can buy tickets for the Diamond Fund inside the Armoury. IN MY VISIT IN JUNE 2015 I FOUND THAT THEY SELL TICKETS TO THE DIAMONDS FUND OUT OF THE ARMOURY - WHICH SAYS, THAT YOU NEED A TICKET TO THE KREMLIN PREMISES ONLY. It costs 500 rubles on top of the ticket to the Kremlin grounds and/or the Armoury Museum. The tickets need to be purchased separately from the Kremlin entrance, and the visits are "timed" as are many of the Kremlin attractions. The Diamond Fund is a museum within a museum. If you're short on time or money, skip it. Please be aware, again, it is a small exhibit (2 rooms) and visitors are admitted at 20 minute intervals. A visit may take as little as 30 minutes. The best entrance is through the Borovitsky Gate of the Kremlin. Open Friday to Wednesday from 10.00 to 17.00. For those of you trying to figure out how exactly to get in here, maybe I can offer some tips. First of all, as you probably know you're going to need a ticket to the armoury. Your best bet is to visit the Diamond Fund before you visit the armoury itself. Enter to visit the armoury at your allotted time. You'll be using gate to the southwest to enter the Kremlin. Be prepared for a confusing search to find the Diamonds Fund. But, once inside the Kremlin Walks, turn right past the Armoury. It is in the back. Once inside, up the hill and to your left you will see two entrances. You'll want to enter the first one. The second door up the hill a bit more actually will say Diamond Fund, but I believe that's reserved for education and other groups that already have tickets to the Diamond Fund. You won't have your ticket yet so you can't enter there. Once you use that first entrance proceed to the coat check and go down the hall to your right. You'll pass through the souvenir area. At the end of the hall they'll take your ticket and you'll pass though the turnstile. Go up the stairs and at the top of the first level you will see a ticket counter where you buy your Diamond Fund ticket. You'll either be able to join in on a group or you may have to wait to enter. The entrance to the Diamond Fund is right next to the ticket counter. You'll easily see security there. If you do not want to visit the Armoury as well then you have to make yourself understood for them to let you through the turnstile as they share a common entrance. Try to avoid entering with a camera and/or a mobile. Better, deposit them in the cloakroom of the Armoury (you do get a tag and this is manned). The signs say no phones, but you can just show them while you turn off your phone off and they will let you keep it on you. Once inside, don't speak to anybody. School groups may be talking, but as an individual tourist you can't. Once inside enjoy the breathtaking collection! Once in life experience. BUT, once you are in the Fund it is like entering a guarded prison - all behind glass and patrolled by uniformed staff. The uniformed guards are very irritating and not tourist friendly. Whenever you are at a particular display that a Russian Tour group wants to see as well - you are asked to move so that they can see it. Equally, if you talk - you are told to be quiet or you would be asked to leave. Yet, the local Russians in their tour group(s) are allowed to talk !!! That's the reason it is difficult to get a guided tour to Diamond fund for foreign tourists - , but, anyway, it is better to watch than listen inside - the time allowed is SHORT.
Tip: most tour groups do not start here, so it is easier to get in with little to no wait first thing in the weekdays' mornings.
Nearly five centuries have passed since The Kremlin Armoury (Oruzheynaya Palata) treasures had been founded as the royal arsenal in 1508. The present Russo-Byzantine building, dating from the 19th century, occupies the spot where royal treasures were housed since the 14th century and offers a sweeping introduction to Russian history. A century earlier, the treasury items were already stored in the basements of Kremlin palaces and cathedrals. Until the transfer of the court to St Petersburg, the Armoury was in charge of producing, purchasing and storing decorations, tableware of precious metals, church vessels, clothes of beautiful fabrics, expensive weaponry, jewellery. The best Moscow gunsmiths worked there. In 1640 and 1683, the iconography and pictorial studios were opened. In 1700, the Armoury was enriched with the treasures of the Golden and Silver chambers of the Russian Tsars (Czars). By the end of the XV century, Moscow became the center of a highly artistic crafts, when Moscow court employed an enormous Russian and foreign artists. Their works of art and jewelry were included in the Armory. Numerous diplomatic delegates brought to Moscow elegant gifts: silver cups, precious fabrics, pearls, military equipment. During the reign of Ivan III princely treasury had grown enormously. In 1711, Peter the Great had the majority of masters transferred to the new capital, St.Petersburg. The Tsar Alexander I nominated the Armoury as the first public museum in Moscow in 1806. But the collections were opened to the public only seven years later. The current Armoury building was erected in 1844-1851 by the imperial architect Konstantin Thon. The director of the museum from 1852 to 1870 was the writer Alexander Veltman. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Armoury collection was enriched with treasures taken from the Patriarch sacristy, Kremlin cathedrals, monasteries and private collections. Some of these were sold abroad on behest of Joseph Stalin in the 1930s. In 1960, the Armoury became the official museum of the Kremlin. The Armoury Museum, despite its name, holds much more than guns. The Kremlin Armoury is also home to the Russian Diamond Fund (see below). It has unique collections of the Russian, Western European and Eastern applied arts of the period from the 5th to the 20th centuries.
Although the museum has been open to the public since the mid-19th Century, the current collection was established as recently as 1986, which means that display techniques are relatively modern, the layout is clear and coherent, and there is even plenty of labeling in English.
Summarized plan of the museum - see below the following text:
The Armoury and Diamonds Fund complex covers two floors, the lower (the Armoury itself) dedicated to artifacts directly linked to Russia's rulers. The first hall on the lower floor contains court dresses and religious vestments, including Catherine the Great's glorious coronation dress, the saccos (ceremonial robe) of Peter, Moscow's first Metropolitan, which dates back to 1322, and Peter the Great's high boots and cane. The next hall contains state regalia and ceremonial objects, which means thrones such as Ivan the Terrible's beautifully carved ivory throne and the exotic gold and turquoise throne given to Boris Godunov by the Shah of Persia, and crowns - most notably the Crown of Monomakh, purportedly a gift from the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomachus, and used to crown all the Tsars up until 1682.
The last two halls of the ground floor contain equestrian-related artifacts: decorative saddlery and state carriages. The most impressive pieces of tack are the two gold harnesses that were presented by the sultans of Turkey to Catherine the Great, and the carriages include one given by James I of England to Boris Godunov, and Empress Elizabeth's coach with paintings by the French artist Francois Boucher. Upstairs, the first two rooms contain Russian gold and silver from the 12th Century onwards, a sumptuous collection of jewelry, tableware, icons and decorative objects. The large case of Faberge eggs, presents exchanged between the tsar and tsaritsa every Easter, is probably the highlight of the collection, including the famous Siberian Railway Egg. However, the most beautiful items are those from earlier centuries, when Russian craftsmen developed their own techniques and styles, rather than taking their cue exclusively from Europe. Traditional Russian decorative art reached its peak in the late 16th and 17th centuries, and there are scores of examples in the collection illustrating the styles of the schools that developed in different cities of Russia. The collection of weapons, also divided by hall into Russian and foreign examples, is equally impressive, as befits the building. Mikhail Romanov's ornate, jewel-encrusted arms case and quiver, and the splendid dagger presented to him by the Shah of Persia, are particularly noteworthy.
First Floor (Diamonds Fund):
HALL 1. RUSSIAN GOLD AND SILVERWARE OF THE 12th TO EARLY 17th CENTURIES.
Showcase 1. Artworks from Byzantium, Serbia and Georgia
Showcase 2. Russian gold and silverware of the XIIth toXVth centuries
Showcases 3-4. Moscow jewelry of the XVth century
Showcases 5-6. Moscow goldsmiths' art in the XVIth century
Showcase 7. Artworks by Novgorod silversmiths in the XVIth - XVIIth centuries
Showcase 8. Covers on the shrines of Tsarevich Dmitri and St.Cyril of Belozersk.
HALL 2. RUSSIAN GOLD AND SILVERWARE OF THE 17th TO EARLY 20Xth CENTURIES.
Moscow jewellery in the first half of the XVIIth century
Showcase 10. Russian tableware of the XVIIth century
Showcase 11. Niello and carving of the second part of the XVIIth century
Showcase 12. Russian coloured enamels
Showcase 13. Silverware from the cities of the Volga region in the XVIIth century
Showcase 14. Artworks by Moscow makers of the second half of the XVIIth century
Showcase 15. Jewellery artworks of the first half of the XVIIIth century
Showcase 16. Gold and silverware of the 40-60s of the XVIIIth century. Moscow and Saint-Petersburg
Showcase17. Gold and silverware by local makers of the XVIII - XIXth centuries
Showcases 18 and 19. Gold and silverware of the last quarter of the XVIIIth and first third of the XIXth century
Showcase 20. Panagias of the XVIII - XIXth centuries. Jewellery articles by Faberge Firm
Showcase 21. Gold and silverware of the XIXth to early XXth centuries.
HALL 3. EUROPEAN AND ORIENTAL CEREMONIAL WEAPONS OF THE 15th TO 19th CENTURIES.
Showcase 22. European armour and arms of the XVth to XIXth centuries
Showcase 23. European armour and arms of the XVth to XIXth centuries
Showcase 24. European armour and arms of the XV to XIXth centuries
Showcase 25. Turkish weapons of the XVIth to XVIIth centuries
Showcase 26. Iran weapons of the XVIth to XVIIth centuries.
HALL 4. RUSSIAN ARMS OF THE 12th TO EARLY 19th CENTURIES.
HALL 5. WEST-EUROPEAN SILVER OF THE 13thH TO 19th CENTURIES.
Showcase 27. Russian arms of the XIIth to XVIIth centuries
Showcase 28. Russian warrior in suit of battle armour
Showcase 29. Russian arms of the XVIIIth - early XIXth century. Orders of the XVIIth - XXth centuries.
Ground Floor (Armoury):
HALL 6. PRECIOUS FABRICS, PICTORIAL AND ORNAMENTAL EMBROIDERY OF THE 14th TO 18th CENTURIES. RUSSIAN SECULAR DRESS OF THE 16th TO EARLY 20th CENTURIES.
Showcase 44. Secular dress in Russia in the XVIth to XVIIth centuries
Showcase 45. Secular dress in Russia of the XVIIIth to the XIXth centuries
Showcase 46. Precious fabrics of Byzantium, Iran, Turkey of the XIVth to XVIIth centuries. Precious fabrics of Italy, Spain, France, Russia of the XVIIth to XIXth centuries. Pictorial artistic embroidery
HALL 7. ANCIENT STATE REGALIA AND CEREMONIAL ITEMS OF THE 13th TO THE 18th CENTURIES.
Showcase 47. Thrones of the first Tsars of the Romanov Dynasty of the XVIIth century
Showcase 48. The Double throne of the late XVIIth century
Showcase 49. Thrones of the XVIIIth century
Showcase 50. Ancient state regalia and ceremonial items
Showcase 51. Thrones of the XVIth century
Hall 8. CEREMONIAL HORSE HARNESS of the 16th to 17th CENTURIES.
Showcase 52. Russian ceremonial horse harness of the XVIth to early XVIIIth centuries
Showcase 53. Turkish ceremonial horse harness of the XVIIIth century
Showcase 54. Turkish ceremonial horse harness of the XVIIIth century
Showcase 55. Persian, Turkish and European horse harness of the XVIth - XVIIth centuries.
Hall 9. ROYAL CARRIAGES of the 16th to 17th CENTURIES.
The Fabergé eggs (Hall III) exchanged by Russia's last royal couple, Czar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra, on Orthodox Easter for 3 decades - a collection of Fabergé eggs equal to the largest in the world. Only in the Kremlin Armoury Museum you will have a chance to see the finest and best known part of the Faberge heritage – the Imperial Faberge Eggs. The Faberge firm was founded by Gustav Faberge in St. Petersburg in 1842.The company got its worldwide recognition under his son Carl. The firm grew fast and accounted about about 500 people, including its most talented and famous master Mikhail Perkhin. Mostly all the Faberge presents were made at Perkhin's workshop. The jewellers made earrings, brooches, opera glasses, snuffboxes, powder-cases. Their items show great technical skill and artistic originality. Among them, a special place is occupied by Carl Faberge’s souvenirs in the shape of Easter eggs with a surprise inside. For 11 years Carl Faberge was commissioned to make Easter eggs for the Royal Family.
Egg with a model of the 'Memory of the Azov' Cruiser: It was a present from Emperor Alexander III to Empress Maria Fyodorovna. The heliotrope egg consists of two parts. The dark green heliotrope is decorated with diamond-studded gold scrolls.
Moscow Kremlin Egg: A present from Empreror Nicholas II to Empress Alexandra. This Imperial Faberge egg is a stylised model of the Moscow Kremlin and made of coloured gold and silver. It is a music box. In the center is the dome of the Assumption Cathedral which is located in the Moscow Kremlin in the center of the Cathedral Square. If you look through one of the windows in the church you'll see the iconostasis and icons of the Assumption Cathedral.
Alexander III Monument Egg: It was a present of Empreror Nicholas II to his mother Empress Maria for Easter. The egg is made of rock crystal and divided into two parts. A gold model of the monument to Alexander III fits inside the egg. The model is a copy of the monument by sculptor Trubetskoy that is in St. Petersburg.
Clock Egg: Another fascinating item by Perkhin which you can see in the Armoury is an egg in the shape of a clock - Clock Egg. It was a present of Emperor Nicholas II to his wife Empress Alexandra. This egg is remarkable for its elegance and technical perfection. On the top you'll see a bouquet of white lilies made of chalcedony and gold.
Alexandrovsky Palace Egg: The Easter Egg is decorated with five miniature portraits of Nicholas II children in diamond frames. The model of Alexandrovsky Palace is made of gold and silver with windows of rock crystal. The egg was also a present of the Emperor to his wife.
Steel Egg with Miniature Easel: It was also a present for Easter of Nicholas II to his wife. The egg is decorated with the gold Imperial Crown. In the middle of the steel egg you'll find the symbol of Russian Empire double-headed eagle. The miniature on the easel shows meeting Russian troops with Empreror Nicholas and his son.
Trans-Seberian Express Egg: Perkhin created a gold model of the first train to run along the Trans-Siberian Railway. It's very interesting that carriages are made of pure gold and each has an inscription: "Ladies only", "Gentlemen only", "Mail car" and "Church car". This egg was also a present of Nicholas II to his wife.
Standard Yacht Egg: It was a present for Easter of the Emperor to his wife Alexandra. The Egg represents a gold model of the royal yacht "The Standart" which belonged to the tsar's family. The gold setting is decorated with diamonds, enamel and two lapis-lazuli figures of heraldic double-headed eagles.
Clover Egg: A present from the Empreror to his wife. The open-work egg made of gold filigree leaves of clover, some of them filled with light-green transparent vitreous enamel and some of them filled with true pretty diamonds. This egg was symbol of a happy marriage of Empreror and his wife Alexandra, the symbol of union of two loving hearts.
Romanov Tercentenary Egg: Another beautiful example is the Easter egg in commemoration of the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty. And of course the egg is decorated with 18 portraits of representatives of the Romanov dynasty.
Golden Gospel (Bible) (1571): Manuscript and golden cover date to 1571. Gift of Ivan the Terrible to the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the Moscow Kremlin. Chased, engraved, and nielloed gold, with enamel, granulation and filigree, precious stones and pearls:
Monomakh's Cap (шапка Мономаха, shapka Monomakha), also called the Golden Cap (Shapka Zolotaya) is a symbol-crown of the Russian autocracy, and is the oldest of the crowns currently exhibited at the Kremlin Armoury. Monomakh's Cap is an early 14th-century gold filigree skullcap composed of eight sectors, elaborately ornamented with a scrolled gold overlay, inlaid with precious stones (ruby and emerald) and pearls, and trimmed with sable. The cap is surmounted by a simple gold cross with pearls at each of the extremities:
The Kazan Cap was made for Ivan the Terrible in 1553 after conquering the Kazakh khanate. It was not used to crown Ivan nor any other Tsars. Monomakh Cap and Kazan Crown:
Great Imperial Crown: largest of Russian crowns, it was made in SPb by G.F. Ekart and J.Pauzie in 1762, in 1797 crown was altered by L.D.Diuval: It has 4936 diamonds, 75 huge pearls and one huge red spinel in 398, 72 carat. naw crown saves in Diamond Fund:
Crown of Tsar Mikhail, the first Romanov Tsar, which was made by the Kremlin Armoury in 1627, long after his coronation in 1613. Right: orb and sceptre of Boris Godunov:
Crown of Empress Anna Ivanovna (1730-31): one of the first new-type Russian crowns was executed by Gottlieb Wilhelm Dunkel in St. Petersburg in 1731 for Empress Anna's coronation ceremony; in 1730-s it was altered. Crown is made of silver and adorned with 2536 diamonds, 28 other gemstones and one huge red tourmaline in c.500 carat. The form was to become traditional: two open-work hemispheres divided by a movable arc with a cross in the middle and a broad circlet. In 1826 it was used for personal coronation Emperor Nikolas I in Warsaw as the Polish king. Later, crown served as heraldic crown of "Tsardom of Poland":
Maltese crown of Emperor Pavel I: this crown was presented by Order to Pavel I in 1798 together with the Grand Master title and other Order's relics. This regalia is made by stamping of gilding silver, with golden sphere and golden enamelled "maltese" cross. Until 1803 it served also heraldic crown. In 1827 it was given to Kremlin Armory. Total weight - 1.753,00 kg.:
The Orlov Diamond is a large diamond that is part of the collection of the Diamond Fund of the Moscow Kremlin. Its origin – described as having the shape and proportions of half a chicken's egg – can be traced back to the second century Sri Ranganathaswamy Hindu temple, in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, India where it once served as the eye of the presiding deity, before being stolen and sold by a French soldier and Hindu convert in 1747:
Hall IV is devoted to the robes and raiment of the Tsars.
Coronation dress of Catherine I:
Catherine the Great coronation gown:
Tsar Peter's kaftan - the velvet kaftan Peter the Great wore while training in Holland's shipyards:
Hall VI displays the unusual thrones.
The Double silver throne of half-brothers Ivan V and young Peter I (future Peter the Great) (showcase 48): A unique historical moment, when two Tsarevitches were crowned together. Tsar Alexis died leaving three sons. After the death of the eldest one, Theodore, fifteen-year-old Ivan should have inherited the throne, but he was feeble-minded and in poor health. So it was decided to crown the two brothers together, Ivan and ten-year-old Peter (the future Peter the Great). The double-seated throne was executed specially for the occasion by the Kremlin craftsmen in the 1680s. Its formation includes open-work arch on twisted columns, silver steps below and a high back with two silver pillars on each side resembles elegant architectural forms. The shape of the throne is finished with a lavish ornamentation:
The 16th century Throne of Ivan the Terrible, carved out of ivory and gilded wood:
The Diamond throne of Tsar Alexis numbering 900 diamonds. The most elaborate of the Royal thrones in the Armoury collection, is reminiscent of the throne of Tsar Mikhail, his father. The throne was made by Persian makers in 1659 and granted to the Tsar by merchants Ichto Modovletov and Zakharia Saradarov from the Armenian Trading Company in 1660. The throne has been made of sandalwood faced with golden and silver plates with foliate ornamentation. Its bottom is decorated with a bold carved pattern depicting a procession of elephants and drivers on their backs. The whole surface of the throne is faced with an intricate mosaic of turquoise and diamonds. The precious donation was attached to the petition of tax-free trading in the Russian territory. The Armenian merchants got 4000 silver rubles and 19000 copper rubles for this throne. For the prevalence of diamonds the throne was named "Diamond Throne". In total throne has 876 diamonds and 1223 other gemstones. The back of the throne is covered with black velvet. On the back of this throne there is an embroidered Latin inscription: "Potentissimo et invictissimo Moscovitarum Imperatori Alexio, in terris feliciter regnanti, hic thronus, summa arte et industria fabrefactus, sit futuri in coelis et perennis faustum felixque omen. Anno Domini, 1659" ("To the most powerful and invincible Muscovy Emperor Alexis doth reign felicitously upon the earth the throne made with sumptuous art would be a token of future eternal bliss in heaven. In the Year of Our Lord. 1659"):
Golden throne (or Boris Godunov Throne) Is a throne of oriental workmanship executed in the late 16th century. Having been presented by Shah Abbas I to Tsar Boris Godunov it was called a "Persian throne with stones". The form of the throne with its low back flowing into sloping arm-rests, reveals features typical of Iranian furniture of the 16th-17th centuries. The back of the seat, the arms and the whole lower section of the throne were covered with gold Persian fabric, replaced by French velvet in 1742 for the coronation of Empress Elizabeth. In total this throne is adorned 552 rubies and pink tourmalines, 825 turquoises, 177 pearls and 700 halves of pearls:
In Hall IX is the world's largest collection of carriages. The museum possesses a truly impressive collection of Tsar’s carriages – one of the largest in the world. It began to be formed in the 15th century, having become part of the Armory exposition in 1834. The collection consists of 17 magnificent coaches that have survived to the present day practically in their original form. There’s virtually every kind of carriage used in Russia and Western Europe between the 16th and the 18th centuries built by the best masters of Moscow, St.Petersburg, Vienna, Berlin, London, and Paris.
Berlin carriage of Empress Catherine the Great (1769):
The carriage given by Prussian King Frederick II to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna in 1746. Austrian, Vienna, 1740:
The oldest in the Kremlin’s Armory collection is the English coach dating from the late 16th century, which was presented to Tsar Boris Godunov by King James I of England. Its structure and form are rather simple, for it is not yet equipped with an axle-pivot, crane-neck, springs, a bench for the coachman or foot boards for attendants at the rear. Despite its large size, the coach was intended to seat only two people. Its handsome body is suspended on straps. The roof is supported on eight pillars. The open upper part of the body is hung with curtains. Carriages did not have glass windows at that time. The almost rectangular coach is suspended on leather thongs, the open upper part is curtained, and instead of doors there are removable flaps. The carriage's ornament is worthy of particular attention and presents a high-relief wood carving depicting hunting scenes and battles between Christians and Muslims:
Of exceptional value are two children’s coaches made in the Kremlin workshops in the late 17th century. Such 17th-century 'amusement' coaches for children are not found in any other museum of the world. The covered winter sledge belonged to the children of Tsar Ivan, half-brother of Peter the Great. Another one is a summer wheeled coach made for 2-year-old Tsarevitch Alexei, son of Peter the Great. Both carriages were intended for children’s games. Such 17th-century ‘amusement’ coaches for children are not found in any other museum of the world.
The ceremonial carriage that belonged to Empress Anna Ioannovna, a niece of Peter the Great, was built by St.Petersburg craftsmen in 1739. It was intended for drives in the parks and on hunting trips. The coach has low wide wheels so as not to destroy the paths in the garden. Its windows and upper part of the doors have plate glass. The footstep is inside. Technically, it was more advanced. Iron springs disguised behind a bronze decoration, a turning wheel and a box for the coachman are its new features. It was decorated with gilding, relief carving, the crown, the emblem and the portrait of its owner:
Gondola style carriage of Empress Catherine II, English, 1770's:
Helmet of Yaroslav II:
The 12th-century necklaces from Ryazan: Necklace with pendants from Staraya Ryazan This necklace is part of a hoard of treasures found in 1822 in Staraya Ryazan—one of the richest finds in terms of gold and silver ware from pre-Mongol Rus'. It included an impressive set of gold jewelry and ornaments. The necklace, probably intended for a woman, is made of large openwork gold beads, between which hang five large medallions of cloisonné enamel on gold:
The sabres of Kuzma Minin and Dmitri Pozharski. Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who gathered an all-Russian volunteer army and expelled the forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from Moscow, thus putting an end to the Time of Troubles in 1612.
The Armoury gifts shop:
In case you are exhausted or it is too late - exit the Kremlin hill from the south-west entrance/exit. Walk west to the Borovitskaya Tower (Боровицкая башня), a corner tower with a through-passage on the west side of the Kremlin. It is named after Borovitsky Hill, one of the seven hills Moscow is standing on. The tower was constructed in 1490 on the spot of an old Kremlin gate by Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solari by order of the Tsar Vasili III of Russia. In 1658 by orders of Tsar Aleksey I of Russia the tower was renamed to Predtechenskaya (from the Russian word предтеча — Predtecha, the forerunner) after the Church of John the Forerunner, which was later destroyed during the construction of the Kremlin Armoury. The new name, however, never became popular. In 1812, the tower was damaged by an explosion staged by the retreating French army. In 1817-19, the tower was restored by architect Osip Bove. In 1935, the Soviets installed a red star on top of the tower. Following the closure of the Spassky Gate on red square to all traffic at the end of the 90's, the Borovitsky gate became the main vehicle passage way. Together with the star, its height is 54.05 m.
Otherwise, advance to Tip 5 - return from the Borovitskaya Tower and Kremlin Gate back to the Kremlin Gardens and exit the Kremlin (through Borovitskaya Tower) - continuing northward along the Alexander Gardens with its landmark attractions and the Kremlin walls.
The Kremlin Gardens, from Spaskaya Tower to Borovitskaya Tower and back to Alexander gardens.
The Ivanov Square is separated from the Cathedrals' Square by the Ivan the Great Bell-Tower. Walk from Borovitskaya Gate to the east. Turn LEFT (north) EITHER to the Cathedrals' Square (opposite the Secret Tower) OR behind the Archangel's Cathedral (opposite the 1st Nameless Tower). In the second (preferred) option, after the turn northward, you pass the Archangel's Cathedral and the Tsar's Bell to your left and the Secret Gardens - to your right. Taynitsky Gardens, named for the nearby Taynitskaya Tower. Taynitsky means “secret,” and the secret of the Tower was a hidden well and a passageway to the Moscow River (see Tip 3 about the Secret Tower). THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PART OF THE GARDENS IS EAST (BEHIND) THE TSAR'S BELL. HERE YOU CAN REST AND HAVE YOUR PICNIC. They were both done away with (filled up and blocked off, respectively) during the Stalin period. The Gardens themselves used to be the site of a church, though that too was demolished after the 1917 Revolution. The gardens are STUNNING during the spring, early summer with the tulips and lilacs blooming. In 1870, the Tainitsky (secret) Garden was planted on South slope of Borovitsky Hill, and in 1926, public garden was laid out in the square between Arsenal and the former Senate building. There, an obelisk was erected in memory of Kremlin red guards who fell in battle during the civil war (1918-1920). In 1940, Kremlin Large Public Garden was laid out in South part of Ivanovsky square. There, Yury Gagarin planted an oak named “Cosmos” to commemorate the first ever space flight.
The fountain here in the Tainitsky Gardens is new, erected in 2008. In fact it was the first fountain in the Kremlin:
The Kremlin walls from the its gardens:
In case you cross the Cathedrals Square (Sobornaya Ploshchad) pass the Ivan-the-Great Bell Tower and the Tsar Bell is behind (north-east) to it.
Take the road which leads from the Tsar's Bell EASTWARD and ends at the Saviour Tower. The Spasskaya Tower (Спасская башня) or Saviour Tower is most beautiful tower in the Kremlin. The main tower with a through-passage on the eastern wall of the Moscow Kremlin overlooks the Red Square (more to the east). The Spasskaya Tower was built in 1491 by an Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solari. Initially, it was named the Frolovskaya Tower after the Church of Frol and Lavr in the Kremlin (no longer there). The Spasskaya Tower was the first one to be crowned with the hipped roof in 1624–1625 by architects Bazhen Ogurtsov and Christopher Galloway (a Scottish architect and clockmaker).
The tower's modern name comes from the icon of Spas Nerukotvorny (The Saviour Not Made by Hands), which was placed above the gates on the inside wall in 1658 (it was removed in 1917) and the wall-painted icon of Spas Smolensky (Smolensky Saviour), which was created in the 16th century on the outside wall of tower (plastered over in 1937, reopened and restored in 2010).
The Russians have always regarded the Spasskaya Tower and Gate with great respect. According to old legends, the tower was possessed with miraculous powers and was reputed to protect the Kremlin from enemy invasion. People passing through the gates would always observe the custom of crossing themselves and doffing their hats to show their respect, and horses passing under the gates of the tower were said to shy. In fact, legend has it that Napoleon himself could not prevent his horse from taking fright as he rode through the gates, having failed to show his respect, and the French Emperor's hat was said to have fallen from his head. During the 16th and 17th centuries the tower was used by the Tsar and the Patriarch for ceremonial processions and for greeting foreign dignitaries, and even today world leaders on state visits are escorted through its gates on their way to an audience with the Russian President.
The tower is crowned by an illuminated ruby-red star, which replaced the double-headed Russian eagle in 1937, raising the tower's height to 71 metres. Day and night the star’s surface is illuminated from the inside by a lamp of 5.000 W. The star rotates under the wind like a weather vane.
According to a number of historical accounts, the clock on the Spasskaya Tower appeared between 1491 and 1585. It is usually referred to as the Kremlin chimes (Кремлёвские куранты) and they designate official Moscow Time. The present-day Kremlin chimes were made in 1851-1852 by the Butenop brothers. During the October Revolution in 1917, a stray shell hit the clock, seriously damaging its mechanism. A year later it was repaired by order of Lenin, who decreed that it should be equipped with new chimes capable of playing the Communist Internationale. This unique clock has four dials, each 6.12 in diameter. The numerals are 0.72 metres in height, and the hour hand is 2.97 metres long, while the minute hand measures 3.28 metres. Their accuracy is ensured by a 32 kilogram pendulum. The ringing mechanism is equipped with 10 quarter-hour bells and one bell to chime the hour. The clock was originally wound by hand, but since 1937 it has wound itself automatically twice daily. Today, just as 100 years ago, you can hear its ceremonial chimes, the sound of which rings out far beyond the surroundings of the Kremlin and Red Square below. You can hear the melodic chime every 15 minutes (in the Red Square or on the radio.
In 1999, the decision was made to finally close the gate to all traffic. The signal lights and guard platforms still remain. The gate is used occasionally when repairs must be made to the Borovitskaya Gate. However, in that case, all traffic is routed from Vasilievsky Spusk. Nowadays, the gate opens to receive ONLY the presidential motorcades on inauguration day, for the victory parades, and to receive the new years tree.
The Spaskaya Tower. There is an exit (no return) to the Red Square:
Ivan the Great Tsar Bell Tower. A view from Spaskaya Tower:
The Tsar Tower, south-west to Spaskaya Tower:
Ivan the Great Tsar Bell Tower, the Tsar Bell and the Archangelsk Cathedral from Ivanov Square:
From here you can visit the rest of the towers around the Kremlin wall. We recommend tracing back to the west side, to one of the entrances - and continuing your visit (beyond 17.00 closure time) in the Alexander Gardens (Александровский сад).
Borovitskaya Tower from Alexander Gardens:
The first tower, we see, along the Kremlin western walls, north to the Borovitskaya Tower - is the Armoury Tower:
The next northward tower is the Commandant Tower:
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia inaugurated a monument to Emperor Alexander I, in November 2014. This is the first statue, you see - walking from south to north along Alexander garden near the Moscow Kremlin walls:
Alexander Garden stretches along all the length of the western Kremlin wall about a kilometer between the building of the Moscow Manege and the Kremlin. This was one of the first urban public parks in Moscow. The park comprises of three separate gardens, which stretch along all the length of the western Kremlin wall for 865 metres between the building of the Moscow Manege and the Kremlin. After the Napoleonic Wars, Tsar Alexander I ordered architect Osip Bove to reconstruct parts of the city which had been destroyed by French troops. Bove laid out a new garden from 1819-1823, on the site of the riverbed of the Neglinnaya River, which was channeled underground. The Lower Garden was laid out in 1823. The Lower Garden stretches to the road leading to the Borovitskaya Tower, one of two vehicular and pedestrian entrances to the Kremlin (see Tip 3). The most prominent feature of the Middle Garden is the outlying Kutafya Tower (see Tip 1) of the Moscow Kremlin. There is an entrance to the park opposite the tower directly to the Moscow Metro system.
Fountain 'Four Seasons of the Year' and the Kutafya Tower at the Alexander Garden:
The middle section of the Upper Garden contains a ruined grotto built underneath the Middle Arsenal Tower. Although not constructed until 1841, this was part of Bove's original design. The garden's cast iron gate and grille were designed to commemorate the Russian victories over Napoleon, and its rocks are rubble from buildings destroyed during the French occupation of Moscow:
In front of the grotto is an obelisk erected on July 10 1914, a year after the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty was celebrated. The monument made of granite from Finland listed all of the Romanov Tsars and had the coats of arms of the (Russian) provinces. Four years later, the dynasty was gone, and the Bolsheviks (per Lenin’s directive on Monumental propaganda) removed the imperial eagle, and re-carved the monument with a list of 19 socialist and communist philosophers and political leaders, personally approved by Lenin. Originally in the Lower Garden, it was relocated to its present location in 1966. There is discussion to remove Lenin's and reinstall an obelisk duplicating the original.
The Alexander Garden, the Corner Arsenal Tower and the Arsenal of the Moscow Kremlin and the State Historical Museum of Russia:
The wrought iron grille, enclosing this part of the garden, has a design of fasces, which are intended to commemorate the military victory over Napoleon.
The Alexander Garden with the Monument to Patriarch Hermogenes, the Ruined Grotto and the Middle Arsenal Tower and the Arsenal at the Moscow Kremlin:
The Monument to Patriarch Hermogenes at the Alexander Garden:
More northward is the Upper Garden. Near its north edge and the main entrance to the park is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame brought from the Field of Mars in Leningrad. Created in 1967, it contains the body of a soldier who fell during the Great Patriotic War at the kilometer 41 marker of Leningradskoe Shosse, the nearest point the forces of Nazi Germany penetrated towards Moscow. The northern part of the garden is adjacent to the large underground shopping complex at Manege Square.
Inscription at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Alexander Garden:
Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Alexander Garden:
Fountain and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the north side of the Alexander Garden, and the Arsenal and the Corner Arsenal Tower at the Moscow Kremlin:
Alexander Garden and the east side of the Moscow Manege:
Tsar Alexander 1 commissioned the construction of this famous park as a commemoration of Russian victories over Napoleon in the famous Napoleonic Wars. The garden is a symbol of Russian pride, nationalism, patriotism and utmost sacrifice for the nation.
Fountain 'Four Seasons of the Year' (or: the Horses Fountain) and the Moscow Manege at the Alexander Garden:
Outer layer of the fountain 'Four Seasons of the Year' at the Alexander Garden:
Fountain with a bear, fish and dog at the Neglinnaya River at the Alexander Garden:
The fountain of the dog and the bird in Alexander Gardens:
Sculptures based on Pushkin fairy tales in Alexander gardens:
Neglinnaya River at the Alexander Garden:
We end our daily tour in the northern gate of Alexander Gardens - which opens to the Manege Square:
It is 850 m. walk to the giant Arbatskaya/Alexandrovsky sad/ Biblioteca Imeni Lenin/ Borovitskaya Metro station. Head north toward Manezhnaya street (ул. Манежная), 90 m. Turn left onto Manezhnaya street (ул. Манежная), 150 m. Turn right toward noisy Mokhovaya St, 45 m. Turn left toward Mokhovaya St, 25 m. Turn left onto Mokhovaya St, 270 m. Turn right onto Vozdvizhenka St, 190 m. Turn left onto per. Starovagankovsky perlouk (alley) (пер. Староваганьковский), 20 m. Turn left for 45 m. and you face Aleksandrovskiy Sad Metro station.
Tourist Hotel Complex "Izmailovo" (Gamma-Delta):
Overall: VERY GOOD hotel. Located 15 km. north of Moscow centre. It takes 5 minutes to walk from this complex to the Partizanskaya Metro station (Blue line No. 3) and additional 10-15 minutes ride to Moscow Centre. The Metro station is easy-to manage (only one exit, half-empty, clean and decorative). It is a huge complex of 5 towers (Alfa, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Best-Western Plus Vega building). Gamma and Delta are connected. Every tower with 23-28 floors. There are LOTS of cafes and restaurants around. There is a wide plaza in front of the hotel which includes many restaurants and coffee shops. A 3-story mall with an array of shops and a supermarket is across the street. Our room was in the 22nd floor. Nice, modern, compact, well-equipped room with all essential amenities. Comfortable bed (better, book TWO single beds - the double one is not large enough...). Very quiet. The room is isolated and sound-proof. Good AC (you cannot monitor the temperature). Small TV with four English-speaking channels. Fantastic views from the window. Pillow menu is also available, however, we had no need to replace the ones we had. In every floor you can find filtered-water bars (fill your own bottle) or ready-to-take bottles. Ironing room available. The staff members in the lobby speak English and are VERY helpful. Expect to share the the lobby (in the mornings and evenings) with hundreds of noisy Chinese tourists. The main advantage of the Gamma-Delta complex is its Moskovskiy Restaurant. Self-service buffet served 3 times along the day. Breakfast is 500 rubles/person and lunch or dinner is 600 rubles. Reasonable (but, not cheap) rates. Very rich, well-cooked and delicious selection. The Chinese groups DO NOT use this restaurant. You can pay, separately for every meal in the restaurant entrance. You need key card to access your floor AND your room. There is a security person checking your magnetic card - every time you approach the elevators - returning to your room. The hotel lobby includes a pharmacy, souvenirs shop, a barber and other facilities. Everything is nearby. Another bonus: it is a short walk to the wonderful Izmailovo souvenirs market (allow, at least, 3 hours) and to the Izmailovo park (allow 1-2 hours) before your flight or along a rainy day). A wonderful package find !
Tourist Hotel Complex "Izmailovo":
Izmailovo Gamma-Delta Hotels:
Izamailovo Vega Hotel:
The complex is surrounded with many wooden restaurants, cafe's and other authentic eateries:
View from Tourist Hotel Complex "Izmailovo" (Gamma-Delta), Floor 22, room 2224: