Kremlin and Red Square

Kremlin and Red Square

The Kremlin is one of Russia’s major monuments and Europe’s largest active fortress. The Kremlin’s beauty resides in its stylish towers, but also in its architectural ensemble hidden behind the walls and open to visitors: grand cathedrals and palaces from different periods, exciting museums, the Armoury and the Russian Diamond Fund. Today, the Kremlin is Moscow’s main historical and artistic landmark and the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation.

Unofficially regarded as Russia’s main square, the world-famous Red Square adjoins the Kremlin’s northeastern wall and the monuments situated on it reflect Moscow’s centuries-old history. The same space encompasses churches, ramparts and towers, museums, a necropolis, a mausoleum and a huge shopping mall. Buildings of different styles and constructed between the 15th and 20th centuries create a uniform architectural ensemble, astonishingly beautiful in its variety. Both tourists and thousands of Muscovites come here in crowds every day. Red Square lives the hectic life of a modern metropolis instead of turning into a lethargic open-air museum.
The Moscow Kremlin is perched on the high Borovitsky Hill, overlooking the Moskva River. This ancient church grew to its present size in the 15th century. The total area of the Kremlin is over 27 hectares, and the length of the walls featuring twenty architecturally unique towers is no less than 2,235 m! Inside the Kremlin are the grand Sobornaya (Cathedral) Square (15th-16th c.), several fascinating museums and the residence of the Russian President.
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Red Square is the heart of Russia’s capital and a point of contact between Moscow’s past and present. A walk along the stone paving of Red Square has become a mandatory part for any visitor coming to Moscow. Celebrations, concerts, public festivities, Victory Day and November 7 military parades take place here, and an ice rink is open here in wintertime. St. Basil’s Cathedral is the centerpiece of Red Square. Red Square and its history
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Red Square Landmarks

In the past, this place used to be taken up by market stalls that were rearranged in an orderly manner in the late 16th century. Commonly known as St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Intercession also dates back to the same period. The Spasskaya Tower was added at a later date and the whole area near the tower and the cathedral was named Krasnaya (that is, ‘beautiful’) Square. Today it is surrounded by the GUM, the Historical Museum and the Kremlin’s sublime walls and towers.

Lenin’s Mausoleum.

Located in the central part of Red Square near the Kremlin’s Senatskaya Tower, the resting place of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin was a special place of worship for the Soviet authorities. Political leaders on the stand atop Lenin’s Mausoleum used to inspect military and celebratory parades back in Soviet times. Although the ‘Object No. 1’ has now lost its status, it is still open to visitors.
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St. Basil’s Cathedral.

This 16th-century architectural monument, both a church and a museum, is the symbol of Moscow and the centerpiece of Red Square. This astonishing nine-domed cathedral commemorates the victory of the Russian army headed by Ivan the Terrible over the Tatars, the conquest of Kazan being one of medieval Russia’s greatest military victories.
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Kazan Cathedral.

Situated on the corner of Nikolskaya Street and Red Square, this beautiful church is the surviving embodiment of enigmatic old Moscow life. The cathedral is open 24/7. Russian Orthodox services are held here in the morning.
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Moscow Kremlin Museums

In just a few hours, you can know all about the history of humanity, including Prehistory, the Bronze and Iron Ages, the Nomads and Ancient Russia, medieval Muscovy, the reforms carried out by Peter the Great, the glorious reign of Catherine the Great and, finally, the early 20th-century Russian state and society. Be ready to walk almost three kilometers if you want to visit the entire exhibition!

State Historical Museum.

Its collection covers all periods of Russian history and that of peoples inhabiting Russia. On view are decorations, pagan sculptures, manuscripts, weapons and clothing from different periods as well as personal belongings of Russian emperors.
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Kremlin’s Cathedrals Museums.

Besides ancient frescoes and icons, the Kremlin’s cathedrals display various historical exhibitions. As an example, an exhibition entitled ‘Treasures and Antiquities of the Moscow Kremlin’ is on view in the basement of the Cathedral of the Annunciation.
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Grand Kremlin Palace.

Constructed in the mid-19th century as a traditional Russian terem palace, it is now the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. The Palace’s main façade overlooks the Kremlin Embankment. The Grand Kremlin Palace has five sumptuous reception halls.
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Museum of 17th-century Russian Applied and Folk Art

This museum occupies the Patriarch’s Palace and the Church of the Twelve Apostles. On view are icons, jewelry, books, embroidery and clocks.
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Kremlin’s Treasures

Among the best-known and exciting museums in the Moscow Kremlin are the Armoury and the Russian Diamond Fund. Every exhibit has a long history behind it, so they are much more than just collections of antiquities. These museums contain imperial jewelry, authentic weapons of Russian grand princes and numerous rarities from imperial treasuries. Every visitor will find something to be impressed with here. Don’t restrict yourself to these museums only. You may also want to pay a visit to the Kremlin’s cathedrals and the Ivan the Great Bell Tower and have a look at ancient bells and small exhibitions dedicated to the Kremlin’s history and architecture.

Armoury Museum

On display are authentic imperial regalia (Monomakh’s Cap, the scepter and the orb), imperial clothes (including those of Emperor Peter the Great), carriages, European and Oriental old weapons, gold and silverware from the early 12th to late 20th centuries (including the world-famous Faberge Easter eggs) and so much more. The museum has nine themed halls located on two floors. All of the exhibits are presented bilingually in Russian and English. Audio-guides are also available.
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Russian Diamond Fund

This museum’s collection consists mostly of breathtakingly beautiful jewelry from different periods, the centerpiece being the Imperial Crown of Russia. Other items on display include military decorations and numerous imperial regalia, as well as large-size natural diamonds and gold and silver nuggets. The jewels from the Fund’s collection allow visitors to trace the last 300 years of Russian history. The Russian Diamond Fund is probably the most “expensive” of Russian museums in terms of the uniqueness and material value of its collection.
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Moscow Kremlin’s Orthodox Churches

On the Kremlin’s main Sobornaya, or Cathedral, Square stand the Cathedrals of the Assumption, of the Archangel and of the Annunciation as well as the Ivan the Great Bell Tower. They were all built in the 15th and 16th centuries on the site of old churches. Today these cathedrals are also museums that are open to visitors. Frescos and icons are well worth a glance and you could also pay a visit to historical exhibitions and the tombs of many Russian tsars. In summertime, an observation platform on top of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower offers a breathtaking view of Moscow.

Dormition Cathedral.

Located inside the Moscow Kremlin, the 15th-century Cathedral of the Assumption was the main Orthodox church of the Russian state between the 15th and the 19th centuries where the coronation of all emperors from the Romanov Imperial House used to be held. The Cathedral of the Assumption was the resting place of Moscow Metropolitans and Patriarchs.
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Cathedral of the Archangel.

Built in the early 16th century, the Moscow Kremlin’s Cathedral of the Archangel was consecrated to Saint Michael the Archangel, the leader of the army of God and the guardian of Paradise. Historically, the church was used as a burial place for grand dukes of Moscow.
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Cathedral of the Annunciation.

All white and gold, the Cathedral of the Annunciation was built in the Kremlin as the home church of Moscow princes. It was here that Russian tsars confessed and had their children baptized. This perfectly preserved architectural landmark and a fine sample of Russian church décor dates back to the 16th century.
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Curiosities of the Moscow Kremlin

The Moscow Kremlin hides priceless treasures and almost every tower played its role in history as a participant in battles, a prison or a dual-purpose facility. The Palace of the Facets and the Terem Palace are among the buildings whose architectural perfection defies imagination. Don’t miss some real curiosities right behind the Kremlin’s walls, such as a giant bell and a cannon.

Spasskaya Tower.

Built in 1491, the Kremlin’s most famous tower was named Spasskaya after the well-known icon of the Saviour (‘Spas’ in Russian) that had been fixed right over the entrance. The clock on the Spasskaya Tower dates back to the mid-19th century.
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Tsar Cannon.

A sample of the Russian artillery casting art, this cannon was cast in bronze in 1586. Decorated with delicate reliefs and inscriptions, this giant cannon fired just once, although it had guarded Red Square for many years.
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Tsar Bell.

This 200-ton giant, whose voice has never been heard by anyone, was commissioned in the 18th century by Empress Anna of Russia to keep the memory of her reign in the memory of future generations.
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Palace of the Facets.

Built in the late 15th century by Italian architects, this palace served as the grand reception hall of the grand ducal residence. Its walls and vaults were covered with awesome frescos in the 16th century.
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Tips for Visitors to the Kremlin

All the necessary conditions have been met for tourists to have a great visit to the Moscow city centre. There are many places around Red Square to rest and enjoy a delicious meal.

Places to eat.

The closest cafés are located on the second floor of the GUM store. During the warm season, visitors to Moscow can enjoy a great meal right on the veranda overlooking Red Square (be ready to pay, though!). Several fast food stalls are available in the Alexander Garden and in the Kremlin. Italian, Russian and Japanese restaurants, as well as McDonald’s, welcome visitors in the Okhotny Ryad Shopping Mall just outside the Alexander Garden. Restaurants and chain cafés just round the corner – on Nikolskaya and Ilyinka Streets – offer reasonably priced breakfasts and lunches.
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Buying souvenirs.

You can buy souvenirs and other stuff just outside the Iberian Chapel, on the square in front of the Museum of the Patriotic War of 1812 or in a small shop inside the Historical Museum. Besides, wealthy fashion and luxury lovers are welcome to the world-famous GUM, open in daytime and in the evening. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Gostiny Dvor, a large shopping mall and an exhibition space located on Ilyinka Street. All of these malls have souvenir-selling stalls. Keep in mind, though, that prices in this part of Moscow are sky-high.
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No Russian?

You don’t need to speak fluent Russian to enjoy the views of the Kremlin and Red Square. In the Historical Museum and in all of the Kremlin’s museums, tourists are offered guided tours in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian, and multilingual audio-guide are available too. In short, the Kremlin and Red Square are Moscow’s best-suited landmarks for foreign visitors. This area features street signs in English and nearby metro stations are all equipped with translated maps and directions.
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Places to stroll around Red Square

Historically, ‘Krasnaya Ploshchad’ (Red Square) actually meant ‘Beautiful Square’, so the commonly used English translation – ‘Red’ Square – is not etymologically accurate. Indeed, this landmark is as beautiful today as it was in the past. The Kremlin’s location on a high river bank free of high-rises is guaranteed to make a lasting impression on your and the pictures you’ll take here will long remind you of these inspiring moments.

Alexander Garden

To the northwest of the Kremlin, the Alexander Garden has been a favourite place among both Muscovites and tourists for many years. The history of the garden is closely related to the past of Russia’s capital, as its monuments remind visitors of Russian military victories, tsars, outstanding generals and heroes. Near the garden are the beautiful buildings of the Central Manege and Pashkhov House, and the huge underground Okhotny Ryad Shopping Mall is right under the garden. The Alexander Garden is a great place to relax outside, away from the city’s blare and bustle.
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This area to the east of Red Square boasts one of the oldest streets in Moscow, a multitude of architectural monuments and museums as well as an active government quarter. It is here that tourists usually start their visit to the historical part of Moscow, bordered by Okhotny Ryad Street, Teatralny Lane, Novaya (‘New’) Square, Staraya (‘Old’) Square, Kitaygorodsky Lane and Moskvoretsky Embankment. Kitai-gorod’s stone wall, whose remnants are still visible today, once passed along these streets. The Zaryadye Landscape Urban Park was opened here in Autumn 2017.
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Christ of the Fiery Eye, a 14th-century icon in the Assumption Cathedral
Carriages in the Armoury Chamber
Canopy over St. Basil's tomb
Armoury Chamber
Armoury Chamber 2
Alexander Park. Grotto
Alexander Garden
Znamensky Monastery. Brethren's Building
Views of the Manezhnaya Square (glass domes are part of Okhotny Ryad, an underground shopping mall)
View of the exterior gallery of Saint Basil's Cathedral
The surviving Kitay-gorod wall
Strolling along Kitay-gorod at night
Present-day parking space
Pashkov House. Inner yard
Palace of the Romanov Boyars
Palace of the Romanov Boyars. 16th-19th centuries
Old English Court
Old English Court in Moscow. 16h-20th centuries
Niokolski Stalls. Architect Lev Kekushev. 1899-1900
Manezhnaya Square
Manezhnaya Square. Fountain
Lenin's sarcophagus
Imperial regalia
Iberian Chapel
Gifts from English ambassadors in the Armoury Chamber
Church of Maximus the Confessor on Varvarka. 1699
Christ with the Golden Hair, a 13th-century icon in the Assumption Cathedral
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