Moscow Kremlin

Under Dmitry Donskoy in 1367-1368, the white-stone walls of the Kremlin were erected and Moscow began to be called "white-stone". In 1485-1495, the Kremlin was totally rebuilt. It was then that the first brick buildings appeared and it largely acquired its present appearance and dimensions.

At the beginning of the 18th century, Peter I transferred the capital of Russia to St. Petersburg, however, according to tradition, the Russian tsars were coronated in the Moscow Kremlin.

In 1917, the Soviet government transferred the Russian capital back to Moscow. The Kremlin became the seat of the highest state bodies, a sort of preserve, where only those who lived or worked there were admitted. It was only in 1955 that its unique museums again became accessible to everyone. Church services have recently been resumed in the old cathedrals and the Kremlin bells which have been silent for over 70 years have come to life.

The Kremlin has been the residence of the President of the Russian Federation and his Administration since 1992.

The Kremlin has been and remains a unique monument of Russian culture and a symbol of Russian statehood.

The Kremlin Towers

The Kremlin has 20 Towers, erected one after another during 1485-1516 and each one has its unique history. In 1485, the Tainitskaya (Secret) Tower was the first one to be built. The Kutafya Tower was the final one to be built.

Among the many towers, the Tainitskaya Tower is particularly interesting. It was said that a well was dug under the Tower and it had a secret passage to the Moscow River to get water during sieges. In 1930-1933, the secret well was destroyed.

In 1488, the Vodovzvodnaya (also called the Sviblova) Tower has a water-drawing machine installed during the 17th century. This water-drawing machine pumped water from the well and distributed it by pipes throughout the Kremlin. Because of the machine, the Tower was renamed and became known as Vodovzvodnaya (Water-Drawing).

The Borovitskaya Tower was built in 1490. According to some old legends, the Tower's name was related to a dense coniferous forest that existed for ages at the top of the Kremlin hill.

The Frolovskaya Tower, as it was originally called, was placed at the site where the Kremlin main gates were located in ancient times. Czars and ambassadors were greeted at these gates and regiments marched from there. In 1658, all Kremlin Towers were given new names, the Frolovskaya Tower was renamed Spasskaya. A large clock occupies the Tower's top three storeys. The total weight of the clockwork is about 25 tons. The length of the hour hand is around 3 meters and the length of the minute hand is 3.28 meters. The numbers are 72 centimetres tall.

The highest Tower and the second in importance (after the Spasskaya Tower) is Troitskaya Tower. These gates served as a passage to the palaces of Tsarina (the Tsar's wife) and Tsarevnas (Tsar's daughters) as well as to the yard of the Patriarch. Through these gates, the clergy went out to meet the Tsar returning home from marches. In 1686, a clock was put on the Tower but it was never restored after the Moscow fire in 1812.

The Kutafya Tower is the only tower, which defended the bridges of the Kremlin, to survive. The Tower was surrounded by water on all sides. Getting through the Tower was possible only by the inclined bridge that led to the Troitskaya Tower. In times of danger, the gates were tightly locked by the lifting part of the bridge.

Grand Kremlin Palace

One of the largest palaces on the territory of the Kremlin is the Grand Kremlin Palace. It stands on the crest of the Borovitsky hill and is the largest Kremlin architectural ensemble, incorporating secular and sacred edifices. The Palace served as a temporary Imperial residence of the tsars during their visits to Moscow.

The Kremlin will take you a long time to visit. Besides the Towers and the Grand Kremlin Palace there are a number of museums:

  • The Patriarch’s Palace
  • The Annuciation Cathedral
  • The Ivan the Great Bell-Tower Complex
  • The Assumption Cathedral
  • The Armour Chamber
  • Museum of the Archaeology of the Moscow Kremlin
  • The Archangel’s Cathedral
  • The Church of the Laying of Our Lady’s Holy Robe

Essential Information for Visitors

Address and Contact Details

The Kremlin

Borovitskaya Ulitsa
(495) 697-80-86
Metro: Borovitskaya or Biblioteka Imeni Lenina
Opening Hours

10.00-17.00 Closed Thursdays

Entrance to Armoury Chamber at specific times: 10.00, 12.00, 14.30, 16.30

Back to all Moscow sights

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