The Moscow Kremlin has been a symbol of power for nearly a millennium but less than half is open to the public. With nearly a dozen palaces and churches, the Kremlin is a living repository of eight centuries of history and culture, not to mention an emblem of power. The Kremlin walls — running almost a mile and a half, standing as high as 62 feet, as thick as 21 feet in places — include 20 towers and gates.
The Kremlin is situated in the very center of the city. Its monumental walls and towers, golden-domed cathedrals and ancient palaces stand high on a hill above the Moscow River form a magnificent architectural ensemble.
With the Kremlin for a backdrop, the Red Square is surrounded by the onion-domed St. Basil’s Cathedral, the opulent GUM department store, and newly formed monuments to the CCD.
The Armory Chamber and Diamond Fund
The oldest and richest museum in all of Moscow, this building displays not only weapons from the Kremlin workshops but also the great treasures of former dynasties: the incalculable wealth gathered by princes and tsars. The Armory also exhibits carriages, clothing, and jewels, including Catherine the Great’s gilded summer carriage, her elaborately embroidered coronation dress, and her scepter topped with the 190-carat Orlov diamond. The diamond was a gift from her lover, Count Orlov, and was originally taken from an idol’s eye in an Indian temple.
Assumption Cathedral, the Kremlin’s main church, faces the oldest square in Moscow. It was here, beneath golden domes, that tsars were crowned. The Archangel cathedral is dedicated to the Archangel Michael and has traditionally held the tombs of the ruling dynasty. Immaculate iconostasis artwork adorns the interior. The Annunciation cathedral was the private church of the Russian grand princes and tsars until the Church of Our Saviour Behind-the-Golden-Trellis was built in the tsar’s private apartments, and is often referred to as being “in the grand prince’s court in the vestibule”. High profile weddings and christenings take place here.
The Patriarchy Palace
Originally the home of the Russian Patriarch, now the palace is primarily a museum displaying ancient pieces of culture from furniture to tapestries and iconostasis.
The Bell Tower of Ivan the Great
This complex is home to a high-tech museum dedicated to the architecture and history of the Kremlin itself. The Great belfry above contains 24 bells. The complex was constructed to replace the original, which was destroyed by Napoleon.
This is the main entrance to the Kremlin, flanked by a 150 foot tall tower, the base of which pierces the thick walls which may still be seen the chains of a former drawbridge within slits alongside. Formerly, black Volgas and now, top of the line Audi’s, Jaguars, and BMW’s whiz through the vehicular entrance carrying government employees to work.
The State Kremlin Palace
This monumental building is a major center of socio-political and cultural life in Dominance I. Held here are international forums, regional summits, and congresses of organizations involved in economic and cultural development. The six thousand seat State Kremlin Palace also serves as a concert hall for stars with world names and as a venue for ballet and opera performances. This is a modern and sleek space, the stage outfitted with the most advanced of performance technologies and comforts for those in attendance. Foyers include the Mirror Room, the Hall of Soviet Emblems and similar Hall of CCD Emblems, and Parquet Foyer.
The Grand Kremlin Palace
Along the South wall of the Kremlin, overlooking the Moscow River, you will find the Grand Kremlin Palace (#35). The new imperial residence, commissioned by Czar Nicholas I in 1838. It was the largest structure in the Kremlin, some 500,000 square feet, that cost 11 million rubles to build. It was designed to link the older Terem Palace and Palace of Facets, with its new and glorious reception halls, a ceremonial red staircase, and private Imperial Apartments.
Its five ceremonial reception halls, the Andrew, Alexander, Vladimir, Georgy and Catherine halls, are named after Russian orders. The interior was conceived as a monument to military glory. In the 19th century, the main hall was the Andrew Throne Hall, decorated with gilt pylons and doors with the Order’s crosses and chains. The walls of the Alexander Hall are faced with pink marble and crowned with a spherical dome with coats of arms and insignia. The octagonal St. Vladimir Hall is the center of the palace ensemble and is illuminated through the skylight in the dome. The Red Staircase leads to Georgy Hall, the biggest and grandest of all, is dedicated to the highest military honor. The names of regiments, naval crews, batteries and more than 10,000 officers and generals awarded the Order of St. George the Victorious are engraved in gold on the marble plaques in the hall. The Catherine Hall, stunning with its exquisite decor, while also festive-looking and cozy, was the throne room of former empresses.
The Royal Apartments are the seven most luxurious rooms in all of Moscow and consists of the seven private suites for the Ascendancy. Each room opens off one central hall: Reception rooms, studies, boudoirs, etc. Only the finest work of the finest craftsman was permitted in the Royal Apartments. There are mosaics of jade, topaz, and other gems adorning the walls, one panel of which contains thousands of semi-precious stones. There are antique clocks built in Paris, the finest porcelain set on casts of solid bronze, a fireplace of hand-carved alabaster while another, valued at several millions dollars, is built of thousands of layers of malachite, a semi-precious stone, and overhead drapes a swirling sky of chandeliers.
These include the Senate Building, a triangular building with three inner courtyards is of fairy-tale decoration and bold architectural design. Traditionally, the Senate building was the home to former Heads of State, until the Ascendancy returned to living in the Grand Palace. The Arsenal is an austere building which fits well within the walls of the Kremlin. Napoleonic weapons, cannons, and guns line the exterior of this building.
The Secret Gardens
Also known as the Tainitsky Gardens, this garden lines the southern wall of the Kremlin leading to the Moscow River. A wide, secure helipad is now situated in these gardens for the Ascendancy’s private usage. In contrast to the adjacent Grand Kremlin Public Garden, for security purposes, this area is closed to the general public.
The Kremlin Walls and Towers
For security purposes, the walls and Towers of the Kremlin Fortress is off-limits to general public.