The word Kremlin means a
fortress, and for many centuries the Moscow Kremlin protected the people
of Moscow from all kinds of enemies, but mostly from the Tatar raids.
The 1st fortification wall was built in 1156. It was made of oak. During
its long history the Kremlin was more than once raided by nomads, it
was the arena of numerous feudal wars and devastating fires, but each
time it returned to life and continued to grow. In the 14th century
during the reign of Dmitry of the Don its area grew 7 times and was
surrounded by a white stone wall. Further changes were made in the 15th
century under Ivan III. During his reign the brick wall that we see
today was built. The wall is 1,5 miles long, up to 55 feet high and up
to 15 feet thick. The wall is decorated with the swallow’s / fish tail
design modeled after medieval Italian fortresses. The wall was built by
Italian architects Marko Ruffo and Pietro Antonio Solari and completed
The wall has 20 towers and 3 of them are entry
towers. Today the area of the Kremlin is 28 hectares or about 64 acres.
As a matter of fact Kremlin today incorporates structures starting from
the 14th to the 20th century. Among them are church buildings, museums,
palaces, service buildings and other hallmarks.
It was inaugurated in 1961 for the delegates
of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party. The Congress Hall seats
6000 people. It strikes a sharp contrast to the other structures and
somehow not to affect the beauty of the ensemble the height of the
building was lowered 45 feet down in the ground. Today it is the home of
the Kremlin Ballet Company and it is also used for concerts, New Year
parties and other social activities. Soon after it was built they
crossed Kremlin out of the UNESCO list of the main tourists’ attractions
of the world for a few years. But now it’s on the list again.
the Palace there is the former ARSENAL.
It was built by
the order of Peter the Great in 1736. It took over 30 years to build it.
It was the only building commissioned by Peter the Great in Moscow when
he was a Russian emperor. During its long history the building was
damaged several times – in the 18th century by the fire and in the 19th
century by the French troops. It underwent a series of reconstruction
until it gained the present appearance. It was built as a storehouse of
weapons, but it was never used in that function. Today it houses
headquarters of Kremlin guards. Its façade wall is adorned with stucco
molding representing various military objects. In front of the main
façade are over 800 canons both Russian and foreign ones. Most of them
were taken as trophies during Napoleon war.
Russian architect Matvey Kazakov constructed the former SENATE
building in the 18th century.
It was designed for the
Russian Parliament. Now the building houses the President’s office. On
the 1st floor was the study of Lenin where he worked until 1922. Then he
fell ill and had to move to the country. There he died in 1924 at the
age of 54. Next to the Senate is a yellow-and-white building constructed
in the 1930s. The President’s Staff also uses it.
One of the
hallmarks is the TSAR CANON. A Russian master cast it in 1586.
It weights 40 tons and has a bore of 36 inches. The canon balls are
decorative each weighing 1 ton. The canon was designed to fire with
stone shrapnel but never fired.
The TSAR BELL claims
to be the heaviest bell in the world. It was constructed in 1735. There
was a fire in 1737. The bell was still in the pit surrounded by wooden
scaffolding. The wooden scaffolding caught fire, the bell got red hot,
people poured water on the scaffolding to put out the fire, an the bell
gave many cracks. It remained in the pit for a hundred years. When they
were lifting it from the pit a big piece of 12 tons fell off. The inside
clapper does not belong here. The bell is adorned with relieves of
Alexey Romanov and Empress Anna.
IVAN THE GREAT BELFRY
was completed in 1600 under Boris Godunov. It took almost 100 years to
build it stage by stage. And until the mid 20th century it was the
highest structure in Moscow. Its height is 240 feet or 81 meters. In its
time it was not allowed to build up any structure higher than the
belfry. And when prince Menshikov, Peter’s best friend and follower,
built a bell tower a little bit higher than this one it was destroyed by
a lightning. People saw God’s punishment in that fact.
to this tall belfry there are two more bell towers built by an Italian
architect in the 16th century. One of them has the largest bell of
Moscow, its weight is 70 tons and it was cast in 1817. This huge bell
gave the signal for the other Moscow churches on the Easter night. In
1812 the French blew up the top of these 2 belfries. They were rebuilt
but not to the original state. As for the Great Ivan Belfry it gave a
crack but survived.
THE FACETED PALACE
east wall of the palace is faced with rusticated stone in the form of
diamond facets. The palace was built as an audience hall for the tsars.
Here Ivan the Terrible received ambassadors from his throne and his
boyars, Russian medieval aristocrats used to sit along the walls on
benches. They had long beards, tall hats and long coats. The hall could
house up to 600 guests. Today the F.P. is still used to host formal
receptions and official dinners for visiting dignitaries. Italians built
it; it’s the oldest secular building in the Kremlin.
GREAT KREMLIN PALACE
The palace was commissioned by
Nicolas I and was completed in 1849. The old palace that stood on its
place was a mixture of various chambers, chapels and service buildings.
It was a picturesque ensemble haphazardly joined together by
passageways, corridors, and stairways. The structure was not suitable
for use as an imperial residence, and when building a new palace most of
the premises were renovated, repaired and brought back to life after a
long period of neglect. Thus, the survival of the oldest part of the
Kremlin is due to the construction of the new palace. The palace was
built as the official Moscow residence of Russian emperors when St.
Petersburg was the capital of Russia. The cornices, the pilasters and
the window surrounds are richly adorned with stone carving. Inside are
the halls of Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov, Nicolas I, etc. There are
two big halls dedicated to Russian military orders. The hall of St.
George is used for receptions, presentation of orders and medals now.
It’s here that the President greets visiting heads of foreign states. In
St. Vladimir’s Hall international treaties are usually signed.
PATRIARCH’S PALACE AND THE CHURCH OF 12 APOSTLES
Patriarch’s Palace was built in the 17th century for Patriarch Nikon. On
the first floor of the palace there were household services, the third
floor housed living quarters of the Patriarch. The ceremonial chambers
were located on the second floor. The main ceremonial room was the Cross
(or Chrism) Chamber where the meetings of the Holy Council and tsar’s
and ambassadorial feasts were held. In the 17-th and 19-th centuries,
Moscow Synod Service was situated in the Patriarch’s Chambers.
it is a museum and houses an exposition presenting specific features of
the Russian culture of the 17th century: housewares, jewelry, tsars’
hunting equipment, ancient furniture and items of ecclesiastical
embroidery which were created by russian, european and eastern masters.
is a wonderfull example of carving in the home church of Twelve
Apostles. It is the gilded iconostasis of the 17-th and 18-th centuries
made of carved wood. In this church there is a collection of icons
showing the development of icon-painting in the 17-th century. The works
of the leading tsar’s icon-painters Simon Ushakov and Feodor Zubov
present the new tendencies in painting .
The museum’s exposition
shows the new trend in art of the Russian society in the 17-th century.
Next stop: Broadway! Kinda reminds me of those show biz mognetas, popular from the thirties then well into the fifties. It starts a shot of a billboard that features the performer billed at bottom. Then we see him/her onstage pattering something like, Here we are in Peoria, my favorite town . Then we hear the first bars of I'm Just Wild About Harry . Dissolve to a steam train rushing to the next town. Wipe to city sign: Welcome to Elko, Nevada Another billboard, billing slightly higher, then repeat all the rest with local city named. This goes on three of four times. Each time the same bars of the same song are repeated. Finally, the train reaches New York City, we see The Palace marquee, and the song finally is completed. Miss those mognetas
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