Moscow Kremlin

Moskovsky Kreml

Being the symbol of Moscow and that of the state power the Kremlin is the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. Its complex includes 20 towers, several museums, cathedrals, parks and other outdoor sights. This is the largest operational fortress in Europe. The Kremlin used to be built in wood, later - in white stone, burnt down not once, was rebuilt and expanded many times, but it has always remained the most majestic landmark of Moscow.

Historians tend to date the foundation of the Kremlin back to 1156, when first 850 meters long fortification structures were erected on the site. Due to the original oak Kremlin walls, being subject to often fires, in the 1360s Prince Dmitry Donskoy replaced them with the ones made of white limestone which lead to Moscow being dubbed ‘the white-stone city’. Among other sights the Kremlin visitors can access two ancient vaults, which remained from as early as the 14th century. These are the oldest surviving structures in Moscow. In the 15th century the Kremlin was cleared off the market stalls, and under Ivan III its major reconstruction had begun, during which the Assumption and the Annunciation Cathedrals were built. The architectural ensemble of the main square inside the Kremlin walls, called Cathedral (Sobornaya) Square, was mostly completed with the construction of Archangel’s Cathedral and Ivan the Great Bell-Tower in the early 16th century.

The Amusement Palace is a unique fragment which remained of the incredible medieval Kremlin complex. The only surviving example of the boyar mansion was built in 1651 for Ilya Miloslavsky, who was the father-in-law of tsar Alexei Mikhailovich (father of Peter the Great). From the Alexander Garden a women’s wing of the Palace can be seen. The 5-storey mansion was more luxurious than the tsar’s palace. It was surrounded by the hanging apple gardens, planted on the terraces. The mansion was equipped with a water supply system, on its roof there was a golden-domed family chapel. The Kremlin visitors can also see the famous Tsar Canon and Tsar Bell, the Church of the Deposition of the Robe, the Faceted Chamber, the Diamond Fund and the Armoury Chamber.

In the late 19th century the owners of Siemens & Halske AG Werner Siemens and Johann Halske wrote to the Russian Emperor proposing their services in installing electric lights in the Kremlin. Thus, in 1896 it was illuminated. In the 1930s the two-headed eagles were removed from the main towers and replaced with ruby stars. During World War II the Kremlin was heavily bombed, but remained mostly undamaged.

We advise you not to miss the ceremonial mounting parade of the Horse Guard and Foot Guard of the Presidential Regiment, which is held from April to October at Cathedral Square every Saturday at noon. The Kremlin’s Tainitsky Garden is among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is open for visitors. You can enjoy a walk or rest in the tree shades, view the Peacock fountain and the famous oak tree dubbed Cosmos, planted by Yury Gagarin on the 14th of April 1961 – 2 days after he became the first human to take a journey to the outer space. The oak is said to have some mystical powers. The Garden replaced the monument dedicated to Alexander II which had been built over 5 years with public donations and completed in 1898. The colossal memorial complex (72.5 meters high and 37.3 meters long, covering the area of 1284 square meters) designed by A. M. Opekushin was the largest and the most expensive monument at the time in Russia. It was nick-named ‘the bowling alley’. It resembles the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens of London. The bronze sculpture depicted Alexander II wearing general’s uniform and holding a scepter. The sculpture was shaded with a canopy made of granite and bronze, topped with a two-headed eagle’s figure. The inner sides of the canopy were covered with inscriptions chronicling the tsar’s life. Three sides of the sculpture were surrounded with the arched gallery decorated with 33 mosaic portraits of Russia’s rulers from Prince Vladimir to Emperor Nicholas II, and the coats of arms of all the territories of the Russian Empire – representing a sort of museum of Russian history and its state symbols. In 1918 the Liberator Tsar’s monument became the victim of the revolution.

Visitors enter the Kremlin by tickets through the Kutafya Tower. Tickets are available in the Kremlin museum’s ticket office at the Alexander Garden. Visitors can exit the Kremlin through the Saviour’s Tower to Red Square.

Address: Moscow Kremlin (Moskovsky Kreml)
Opening hours: Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun 10 am - 5 pm, closed on Thursdays
How to reach: Okhotny Ryad, Ploschad Revolutsii, Teatralnaya or Biblioteka imeni Lenina, Borovitskaya, Alexandrovsky Sad metro stations
Coordinates: 55.752260, 37.614493