Address: 103132, Moscow, The Moscow Kremlin; Telephone numbers: 7 (495) 695 41 46, 7 (495) 697 03 49. How to get there: metro station "Okhotny Ryad", "Teatralnaya", "Ploschad Revolyutsii", "Alexandrovsky sad", "Borovitskaya", then on foot. Each of the stations located near the Kremlin. The Museum’s Working Hours: from 10.00 to 18.00 (box offices: from 9.00 to 16.30), Thursday is a day off. Tour agency/box office: Monday – Sunday from 9.00 to 17.00. Prices: - Ivan the Great Bell-Tower - 250 Russian rubles (for all people); - Sobornaya Square and exhibits – 500 Russian rubles (pensioners (retired people) and students– 250 Russian rubles); - Armoury Chamber - 700 Russian rubles (pensioners, students - 300 Russian rub.); - The Moscow Kremlin's museums are free for kids under 16 and social groups of people.
The Moscow Kremlin is the main sight and attraction of the Russian capital's. These red-brick walls and towers are easily recognizable and significant not only for Moscow, but also for all the vast territory of Russia. Historical and cultural values of the architectural composition of the Moscow Kremlin admitted on a global level, that's why since 1990 the monument is declared as one of the World Heritage Site in UNESCO’s list.
During its long history, the Kremlin had experienced not only dawn moments but also falls. There were successful siege of the enemies and it was defeated by enemy troops. There were devastating fires and periods of active renovation, of building new constructions.
The first mention about the fortress buildings on the left bank of the Moscow River appeared in the records of the chroniclers of 1156. In those days, the local Kremlin, like other ancient Russian fortresses was made of wood. It was in the south-western part of the hill, known Borovitsky, and occupied an area of about three hectares. Then it was destroyed and rebuilt after the Mongol invasion in 1238 and from 1264, the Kremlin become a permanent place of residence of Moscow’s feudal lords.
In the XIV century walls and towers of the buildings were made of oak, and in the central part of the Kremlin’s area appeared a square, called Sobornaya, it appeared during the reign of Ivan Kalita. The oldest church here was the Spaso-Preobrazhenskiy sobor on Bor, which was built in 1300. In 26-27s of the XIV century, there was built the temple of the Assumption of the Virgin, which was first stone building in the Kremlin’s territory.
In the end of 60-ies of the XIV century, at a time of Dmitry Donskoy reign, the Kremlin walls and towers were rebuilt in stone. Since the stone walls were white, Moscow became known as the "white stone".
In the territory of the ancient Kremlin there was several monasteries and temples: The Chudov Monastery, The Simonov’s church, the Holy Trinity church, the church of Ascension, Novospassky monasteriy, The Alexievskaya church, the church of Epiphany, the Church of the Deposition of the Robe, The Annunciation monastery, The Vvedenskaya church, the John the Baptist church and many other churches, most of which, unfortunately, were destroyed.
A significant restructuring of the Kremlin was in the second half of the XV century during the reign of Ivan III (the Great). The work was done not only by great Russian artists and architects, but also by invited masters from Italy. For example, a well-known architect Aristotle Feorovanti supervised the construction of the new Cathedral of the Assumption of the mid 70-ies of the XV century. Architects from Italy built the Grand Palace, which included the embankment, the Sredniya Zolotaya Chamber and the only preserved to the present time the Granitovaya Chamber. The last one was a throne room for ceremonies and meetings of foreign ambassadors.
Since 1485, for over a decade the Italian specialists were rebuilding walls, replacing the white stones to the fired bricks. You can easily recognize the castle Scaligero Verona or Milan's Sforza Castle in the shape of the top of the walls which are made in form of battlement.
In 1547 the Grand Duke of Moscow, Ivan IV (the Terrible), was given the title of tsar. Since that time the Kremlin was the official residence of the Russian tsars. Accession to the throne was held in the Assumption Cathedral, and the festival in honor of the official start of the reign were held in the Cathedral Square. After the conquest of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible near the Kremlin was built the Cathedral in honor of the holiday of the Protection of the Mother of God. This picturesque church now is known as "St. Basil's Cathedral." It was located near the Spassky Gate, it became a part of the architectural ensemble of the now world-famous Red Square.
In the XVI century, there was built the highest construction of the Moscow of that time - Ivan the Great Bell-Tower, as well as a huge cannon called the Tsar Cannon. In the XVIII century, this 40-ton machine was standing in front of the Arsenal building, now it is located on a special pedestal near the church of the Twelve Apostles adjacent to the Kremlin walls.
The Arsenal building was built in Moscow after a severe fire at the behest of Peter I. IThe construction of the building was finished in 1736 during the reign of Anna Ivanovna. In the 30-ies of the XVIII century, there was also created a huge bell, its weight was about two hundred tons. The bell cracked in a fire in 1737, and its hulk of the 11-ton just fell down from the main bell’s body. For more than a hundred years damaged the Tsar Bell was in the casting pit, and in 1836, it was set up on a special pedestal, designed by architect A. Montferrand. Now the Tsar Bell is located near the belfry "Ivan the Great".
During the XVIII century, the Kremlin’s ancient appearance continued to change. There appeared a new Winter Palace, designed by the famous architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, and the building of the Senate, which was designed by the architect M. Kazakov. The buildings were made in stone.
In the XIX century, several new Kremlin’s buildings appeared. Here, in 1810, the museum building was built as Alexander I appeared in Moscow, it was called the Armory Chamber. In its outdoor design were used decorations such as bas-reliefs which were based on Russian history. Also, there were a lot of statues of famous Russian educators. Because of World War II, which was 1812, it was impossible to open the museum. Moscow was “gave” to the French, who plundered it and set here fire. The Kremlin had the same destiny, many buildings on its territory were blown up and destroyed. But after the war all destroyed buildings were rebuilt and Moscow’s Armory Chambers was opened to visitors since 1816.
Since the late 30's to early 50's of the XIX century, during the reign of Nicholas I, on the territory of the Kremlin was built a new palace complex, which gave the Kremlin the native Russian style. The stylistic composition included the Grand Kremlin Palace, which replaced the Winter Palace, The Apartments and majestic building of the Armory Chamber. Thus, there was build building- composition, called the Imperial. The works were carried out under the guidance of the famous talented architect K. Ton.
At the time of the XIX-XX centuries, there were not built any significant buildings within the Kremlin walls. The architectural ensemble was badly damaged during the events of the revolution in 1917, in the October days. Moscow was given the title of the capital again, and the Soviet government settled in the Kremlin in March 1918, so ordinary people couldn’t get the access here.
Since that time, there were destroyed many buildings which related to the royal house and religion. All the old churches and ancient monasteries were cruelly ruined. The Eagles with two heads on the Spasskaya, Nikolskaya, Borovitskaya and Troickaya towers were replaced firstly by golden precious stones, and then by the ruby luminous stars in the 1930s. The same star appeared on Vodovzvodnaya tower.
During the Great Patriotic War in 1941-1945 the Kremlin was not affected because it was carefully disguised as ordinary city streets.
Since 1955, the Kremlin was partly opened to visitors and at the same time there appeared a ban on living within its walls. The final structure on its territory was built during the Soviet era, it is the Palace of Congresses (1958-1961), for it there were demolished a few old buildings.
Nowadays, the Kremlin occupies an area of 27 and a half acres, it is surrounded by thick walls which length is 2235 m, their thickness is 3.5-6.5 m and their height is 5-19 m. The top of the walls has a shape of battlement; it’s resembling a swallow's tail. If you take a look on the Kremlin's plan, you will see an irregular triangle, the corners of which are located around the tower construction. The rest of the towers, they are 20 towers, are shape a square such as cross-section.
The Moscow Kremlin now is both - the socio-political mainstay of the country, because it is the residence of the President of the Russian Federation, and the historical and cultural site with several museums, which were opened as the parts of the State Museum-Preserve "The Moscow Kremlin". You can visit these museums by yourself, also with the guide.
The Museum-Preserve "The Moscow Kremlin" consist of the Armory Chamber, buildings of Cathedral Square (Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, Cathedral of the Assumption and the Annunciation, the Church of the Deposition of the Robe, and the Patriarch's Palace), the bell-tower "Ivan the Great". Some ancient historical collections are exhibited in the Assumption Belfry and the One-Pillar Chamber of the Patriarch's Palace. When you come to the Moscow Kremlin on one of the Saturdays (from April to November), you will see horse and foot guards of the Presidential Regiment. We are sure it is worth to be seen! The action usually takes place in the afternoon.
This snow-white temple with five golden heads is towering above the Cathedral Square, and it is dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God. It was built during the reign of Ivan III. It was in the 79th year of the XV century, the main architect was the Italian master named Aristotle Feorovanti.
During six centuries, the cathedral played the dominant role in the life of the Russian state. The great princes and tsars became state’s confessed, and then the emperors were crowned here. The Assumption Cathedral served as a place of elevation to the rank of the clergy (bishops, metropolitans and patriarchs). Moreover, in the XIV-XVII centuries it was the burial place for the heads of the Orthodox Church in Russia. In the cathedral were announced the most important government documents and the worships before sending troops to fight the enemy were served exactly here. Of course, when the troops returned here people celebrated the Russian victories.
Its special purpose predetermined the style of interior decoration of the Orthodox shrine. Wall’s design and iconography images were created by the most famous masters of religious painting, which were invited from the whole big Russia. The murals and icons, as well as various items in the interior of the cathedral are the true works of art of the world culture.
The magnificent iconostasis in five tiers, which also can be seen today, was made in 1653. Before the 1812 war it had a silver-plated top, which the French have stolen while they left Moscow. There are worship places right in front of the iconostasis for royal family and the patriarch. There was made a special bronze tent to save the sacred relics. In the cathedral of the Assumption is possible to see the shrine with the relics of the saints and the tombs of the metropolitans’ and patriarchs’ tombs.
After the October Revolution, there was no service in the cathedral. It became a museum; its staff, internal appearance and unique relics were carefully saved by museums-workers. In 1990 it was opened again to hold religious services.
At the beginning of the XVI century (1505-1508) in the territory of Moscow Kremlin, a new building appeared. It was the Cathedral in honor of Archangel Michael. It was believed that it protected the earls in their military affairs. The works for the construction were carried by the architect Aleviz Noviy, who came from Italy. The temple was built right on the place of the previous old church of the same name, which dated back to 1333.
The Cathedral of the Archangel played an important role in the faith of royal family. Tsars came here to pray, before they started the military campaign. The young brothers of an earl sweared to be honest and faithful to the elder brother. The members of the ruling family were buried under the arches of the cathedral. Later, paying the tribute to the ancestors, Russian tsars came here to serve after the accession to the throne ceremonial.
The majestic and monumental painting of the cathedral walls was made by 92 famous masters who were chosen by Simon Ushakov in the middle of XVII century. The main idea of religious painting in the church was connected with the monocracy which was supported by the church, and the relationships between the church and the state. There are not only the images of the God, prophets, apostles and saints and so on the walls, but also the Muscovite earls and their ancestors, which symbolize the heavenly patronage of grand-ducal house. A big place in the interior paintings is occupied by plots dedicated to the Archangel Michael and The Virgin Mary.
The iconostasis of the Archangel Cathedral, which can be seen today, was created in the XVII century and it was a new religious trend for that time, it reflected the Grekofilskaya orientation church reformations at the Patriarch Nikon. Based on the Greek tradition, there was set up a 3-speed Sole and built the iconostasis of the "frame" construction. According to the Byzantine model the location of the rows of icons was changed by placing the Deesus row above the holidays row. In the iconostasis, Patriarch Nikon let place on the right of the royal doors images of the Savior, and on the left images of the Virgin. The main innovation in the iconostasis was the carved composition "The Crucifixion".
Since 1918, church services had been stopped. The Cathedral became a historical and cultural monument, and later it was renovated. Since the mid-1950s, when everyone was free to enter the Kremlin, a museum was given to the Ministry of Culture of the USSR. Since 1991, again, the church services worships.
Now, there is an exhibition, called "Ascension Monastery in the Moscow Kremlin" in the Southern part of the Cathedral. In ancient Moscow’s monastery, which was built in the early years of the XV century by the wife of Grand Prince Dmitry Donskoy, the great princesses and queens were buried for a few centuries. More than once the monastery was destroyed by fire and invaders, but every time it rose again because of its special place in the Russian-ruling-dynasties heart.
The next year after the October Revolution, the Ascension Monastery was closed and destroyed in 1929 with other ancient monasteries which were in the Kremlin's territory. The exhibition "The Ascension Monastery in the Moscow Kremlin" tells the story about the temples that existed at the monastery's land, their interiors, the monastic way of life. It presents images of icon painting, including the part of the iconostasis of the XVII century, and other religious relics, as well as samples of nuns’ and novices clothing.
Blagoveshchensky Sobor stands out in the Cathedral Square. It is one of the brightest architectural monuments created by the talented Russian people. Most of the buildings of the Moscow Kremlin was erected by Italian experts and architectects, but the Cathedral of the Annunciation was built by architects from Pskov. So, the temple’s style combines the motives of the Pskov’s architecture ("begunki" and "porebriki") and metropolitan architecture (keeled “zakomary” and “kokoshniki”). The Cathedral was built in 80s of the XV century, at the reign of Ivan III. It was built in honor of the feast of the Annunciation. Beautiful, small sized temple became a house church of the Russian ruler's family. At first, the temple was made three-headed. In 1508, church domes were covered with gold and icons were decorated with silver, gold and beads. In the same period, the interiors were painted with gold by the son of the famous painter Dionysius - Feodosiya. Unfortunately, during a fire in 1547 murals were destroyed. The cathedral was repainted with pictures based on scenes from the Gospel, the pictures describe different Christian holidays such as passions of Christ, miracles, parables, and different stories of Christ after His Resurrection. A special place is taken by the images associated with the Apocalypse.
Under Ivan IV (the Terrible) the Cathedral of the Annunciation was supplemented by four churches. Two small domes were built above the western part of the temple. The Cathedral of the Annunciation turned into a nine-dome cathedral, which we can see it today. It continued to be a home church of the ruling dynasty for the XVI, and the XVII centuries. Its main prior was the ghostly father of the emperor.
In 1917, the Cathedral was closed for the visitors. Since 1918, when they started to organize numerous museums within the Kremlin walls, people studied the church, and restored its works of art.
Even today, the beautiful iconostasis in several tiers is still can be seen by visitors, it’s dating back to XIV-XV centuries. Its icons were created in the blooming period of Russian culture, so they are considered as the monuments of the Moscow’s icon painting school. Since 1989, the cathedral homes a collection of icons and other religious relics related to its long history biography. In the basement, there is an exhibition called "Treasures and the ancient things of the Moscow Kremlin." The exhibited items were discovered by archaeologists in the territory of Kremlin. They belonged to the history of the royal family, Moscow’s famous people and monasteries that existed here since the XII century to the end of the XVII century. There are more than a thousand items: jewelry, armor, warrior weapons components, gold coins as well as silver coins and others. Since 1993, there are solemn feast day services which are hold by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
There is a church between the Cathedral of the Assumption and the Faceted Chamber. It is consecrated in the name of Laying Our Lady's Holy Robe. It was built in the XV century. The Church of the Deposition of the Robe was a part of the Metropolitan Court and served as a home church for metropolitans and patriarchs in Russia.
The temple, which can be seen today, was built at the Metropolitan Gerontius in 1484. Before that church, there was another church of the same name, which probably was built at Metropolitan Jonah in 1451 after the events, called "skoraya Tatarshina" (fast tatarism). The troops of Tatars, headed by the Golden Horde prince Mazowsze, attacked Moscow. The Kremlin was sieged. The defenders made some preparations for the defense and prayed. In July 2, when the day of Deposition of the Robe of the Holy Virgin at Blachernae is celebrated, the enemy troops stopped their attack and left the lands nearby the Kremlin. To thank Our Lady for the salvation of Moscow from the enemy, people built The Church of the Deposition of the Robe.
The church’s iconostasis is an example of “tyabloviy” iconography. It means that the icon images in several rows are placed on horizontal boards (templon), and attached to the wall. In the XIX century, the design was changed, but in the mid-50s of the XX century it was restored to the previous form. Many church’s icons were created in the XVII century by order of the first ruler of the Romanov's family - Patriarch Filaret. Nazariy Istomin Savin was the main director of the design.
You can see the old mural which was painted at the patriarch Joseph in 1644, however, probably there were murals before 1605. There are special typical features of the mural paintings of the end of the XV century. Also, the frescoes in the lower tier of the church were made in a unique and special way. They are similar to fly-towels (shirniki towels) and decorated with embroidery ornaments. The same patterns can be seen on Byzantium and Italy tissues of the XV century.
The Deposition of the Robe Church open to the public a collection of "Russian wooden sculpture of XV-XIX centuries.". Among its exhibits - large religious sculptures, icons, executed in the technique of wood carving, small crosses and folding. These relics related to the history of the Kremlin, local churches and monasteries. Most of the ingenious creations dates back to the XVII century - the time of highest pitch of art masters of the Armory Chamber - the true bulwark of Russian fine arts at that time. In addition, there are exhibited and relics from other Russian cities (Novgorod, Rostov the Great) and the Orthodox monasteries of the Russian North.
The history of the Patriarch's Palace began in the first decades of the XIV century, since the Moscow Prince Ivan Kalita granted Metropolitan Peter a place for the yard on the north side of the Cathedral of the Assumption. The first chamber of stone was built in the territory of the Kremlin at Metropolitan Jonah in the middle of the XV century. The patriarchal yard was reconstructed for several times. Finally, the Patriarch's Palace was completed in 1655, and at the same time the whole architecture design of the Cathedral Square was also completed, which has been created during XV-XVI century. The three-story building accommodated a church in honor of the Twelve Apostles, and other premises (the refectory, the Chrism Chamber, several small parades, etc.). After the October Revolution, the building of the Patriarch's Palace, together with other Kremlin buildings were nationalized. In 1926, there were created museums and also there were renovations works. Later, the Patriarch's Palace was closed to visitors, it was used by the Kremlin Service such as museum stores and artistic studios. Throughout the XX century there were lots of exhibitions in the Patriarchal Chambers, they were re-opened and closed for several times for various reasons.
Since 1987, visitors of the Patriarchal Chambers’ exhibitions could see a variety of items related to the secular and religious life of Russian rulers and patriarchs, as well as the things of other famous people of that time. The Chambers hosted printed and handwritten books, icon-painting images, silverware. The museum workers tried to present the architecture and interiors of the Chambers as it were at the time of patriarchs, kings, and the boyars. In 2010 the exhibition was changed a bit. And in 2013, during the renovation work in grand hall and prikazniye chambers fragments of painting, dating back to XVII century were discovered. Today, tourists can visit the Krestovaya (Chrism), the Trapeznaya and the Prickaznaya chambers, as well as they can visit the church of the Twelve Apostles.
The remarkable interiors of the Cross (Chrism) Chamber showed its main purpose as a ceremonial hall of the Patriarchal Palace. It held worship services, festive dinners. Moreover, here the tsars during their visits to the patriarch were met. In the XVIII century in the Cross Chamber was built a special oven for making the myrrh oil (oil which is used in religious ceremonies), so the Chamber is also called the Chrism. A large variety of authentic patriarchal and the royal treasury items of the XVII century is presented in the Chamber’s museum. For example, a large ancient collection of gold and silver tableware, as well as some tsars’ personal belongings could be found there.
The Trapezniaya Chamber hosts a collection of beautiful ornamental sewing of the end of the XVI - XVII centuries. Here you can see the oldest things from the patriarchal sacristy, from the Kremlin’s and other Moscow’s churches, as well as from the largest Russian monasteries. In the church of the Twelve Apostles, today it is possible to see a great collection of icon paintings of the XVII century.
There is restored interiors of the house, which could belong to a wealthy family in the XVII century in Moscow in the Prickazniye Chambers. The first room is represented as a living room; the second room is represented as a personal office. There is the real furniture of that period: icons, a stove, watches and other items of everyday life of a bygone era.
The architectural composition of the bell tower, known as the "Ivan the Great", was created for more than a century. The architect Bon Fryazin began its construction in 1505. He was from Italy. Three years later, the building was completed. However, a century later, the building was complemented by the new tier, and the bell tower rose to 81 meters. For a long time, the bell tower was the highest structure in Moscow.
In 32-52 years of the XVI century the temple was created around the bell tower by Italian architector Petroc Maliy. Then the temple was converted into a belfry. It was named in honor of the feast of the Assumption. In the architectural ensemble was added the Filaret building. It was a belfry with a tent on its roof.
The French invaders blew up the buildings in 1812. But the bell tower survived, only the Assumption Belfry and the Filaret buildings were destroyed. However, in the next three years they were restored with their unique previous design.
In the era of the religion persecution in the XX century, a huge part the bell tower’s "Ivan the Great" was taken because the country needed metals. Today, the ensemble has 24 bells, which date from the XVI-XVII centuries. The oldest bells here are "Nemchin" and "Korsun".
Nowadays, the building of the Assumption Belfry hosts multiple exhibitions, for example with the different old things from Kremlin storage and other works of art of different museum collections, both - Russian and foreign. The bell tower itself is a museum, which covers the whole Kremlin's history. Here visitors can learn about the development of its historical landmark which is more than nine hundred years: the change of its borders, the new old buildings. Here you also can find out about those buildings which for various reasons have been destroyed. It is available to take the audio guides here. At the end of a fascinating tour, guests go to the gallery and from the height they can observe the Kremlin itself, as well as its surrounding area.
The history of the museum, which is called "Moscow’s Armoury" began in 1806, after the decree of Alexander I, who wanted to clarify the rules of storage and order of management of valuable items of the Moscow’s Armory. A two-storey building for the exhibition was built in 1809 by the architect I. V. Egotov. There was an original sculptural decoration with the characters of persons who played a significant role in Russian history. But the opening was canceled due to the Patriotic War of 1812, and the exhibition met its visitors only in 1816. The new Armoury building was built in 1844-1851 years as a part of the Grand Kremlin Palace by the architect K. A. Ton. The facades and the interior decorations resembled royal palaces. The sketches of the exposures were signed by Emperor Nicholas I.
Today the Kremlin Armoury hosts numerous valuable relics. Its collections contain items that once were in the royal treasury and sacristy of the Patriarch, precious works of art. The nine halls of the museum house state’s regalia from the times of Ancient Rus, for example robes for special occasions, including the coronation one, numerous silver and gold things, weapons, etc. Moreover, there are some halls with cabins of XVI-XVIII centuries. There are about 4 thousand exhibits related to the history and the culture of Russia, as well as things from Europe and Asia.