Moscow's Kremlin - A Grandiose Landmark

The Moscow Kremlin is a fortified complex found in the centre of Moscow, which looks over the Moskva River on the south side, Red Square to the east, and the Alexander Garden westward. The Russian citadels are best known as the Kremlins and incorporate four palaces, four cathedrals and a surrounding Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. This complex is the President of Russia’s official residence.

The site originates from a Vyatich fortified structure on top of the Borovitsky Hill where the Neglinnaya River flows into the Moskva River. This building has continuously been inhabited since the second millennium B.C. Interestingly Soviet archaeologists found a metropolitan seal, which proves that Slavs occupied the southwestern portion of the hill as early as the 11th century. Before the 14th century the site was known as the grad of Moscow. It was only in 1331 that the word “Kremlin” was first used. Prince Yuri Dolgoruky extended the Kremlin in 1156, but in 1237 it was destroyed by the Mongols, then later rebuilt in oak in 1339.

By the year 1475, Grand Prince Ivan III, who took on the title of the Grand Prince of All Russia, visualized Moscow as the only legitimate successor to Rome and Constantinople. To show his imperial ambitions, Ivan invited many skilled architects from Renaissance Italy to come and reconstruct the Kremlin. It was during his reign that the Palace of Facets, Deposition Church and the three extant cathedrals of the Kremlin were constructed. Ivan the Great Bell Tower, the highest building of the city and Muscovite Russia, was built in 1505-08.

Once the construction of the new Kremlin walls and churches was completed in 1516, the Prince decreed that no buildings could be built near the immediate vicinity of the citadel. He also had the Kremlin walled from the merchant town and separated by a 30 meter wide moat. It was this moat that the Intercession Cathedral on the Moat was built during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. It was this tsar that renovated some of his grandfather’s palaces, adding not only a new palace but also a cathedral for his sons and endowed the Trinity metochion inside the Kremlin. The Trinity Monastery were administers of the metochion, which boasts the graceful tower church of St. Sergius, which has been described by visitors as one of the best in the country.

Although the Kremlin was abandoned and neglected until 1773, it was still used for coronations. From that year Catherine the Great employed Vasily Bazhenov to build a new residence for her there. Bazhenov went to great measures demolition of several churches and palaces and a part of the Kremlin wall was removed. However, once this had been done preparations and constructions had to stop due to funds running out. Few years later, Matvey Kazakov put back the dismantled parts of the wall up and rebuilt the old Saviour Cathedral and parts of the Chudov Monastery. He built a spacious and expensive residence of the Senate, which is the main area where the President of Russia works.


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