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The Kremlin, located in Moscow, Russia, is a complex of buildings enclosed within a wall, originally designed as a medieval fortress. The buildings within it include churches, palaces, armories, and a variety of watchtowers. The Kremlin also integrates beautiful gardens and a forest, which are well maintained with footpaths so that visitors can walk through them. It has long been associated with Russian government and culture. In 1990, the complex was recognized as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.
In Russian, the word "kremlin" means fortress. The first mention of the Kremlin was in 1147, when a feast was hosted there. In the 1100s, it was a self-enclosed fortified town, and very easily defended. The complex expanded in the 12th century, and became a seat of Russian power. In 1703, power was transferred to St. Petersburg, which remained the capital until the 1918 Russian Revolution; Moscow was then restored as the capital of Russia.
The city of Moscow rose around the Kremlin as the population expanded, and the fortress itself is now enclosed within the City. In addition to housing a museum, it is also the current seat of Russian government, and the home of the President since 1992. The Russian congress meets at the Kremlin, and a variety of social and cultural artifacts are housed there.
The exterior wall of the Kremlin is broken up by a series of tall watchtowers. The towers are built of red brick, like the walls, and capped with distinctive green spires. In the 1930s, red stars were added to the top of the towers. The towers were constructed at the end of the 15th century by several Italian architects. Visitors to the Kremlin usually enter through the Trinity tower, which is on the west end of the complex.
Within the Kremlin, the complex includes the house of Congress, the presidential residence, the Cathedral of the Assumption, and the historic armory. It also includes the Ivan the Great Belltower, which dominates the complex. The belltower is 262 feet (80 meters) tall. There are a number of other buildings in the fortress, but these stand out as historic and physically impressive structures.
The Cathedral of the Assumption is perhaps the crowning jewel of the Kremlin, constructed in 1470 by Ivan the Great. The Cathedral remains the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church, and is capped with beautiful and distinctive golden domes. A variety of other churches on the grounds supplement the Cathedral of the Assumption, including the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael and the Cathedral of the 12 Apostles.
The armory is no longer used to store weapons. Today, it houses Russian treasures and serves as a museum where visitors can see artifacts from Russian history. Next to it is the Diamond Treasury, where visitors can see the Orlov Diamond along with a variety of other treasures.
The Kremlin is an iconic collection of Russia culture, society, and architecture. A trip to Moscow is not complete without a visit to the famous site, which can yield days of exploration for interested visitors. The palaces, churches, and administrative buildings which combine to form the Kremlin complex span almost 900 years of Russia's architectural and cultural history.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the historical significance of the Kremlin?
The Kremlin is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, serving as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. Its history dates back to the 2nd millennium AD as a fortified settlement and has since been the seat of power for various leaders, including tsars, communist rulers, and modern presidents. The Kremlin's walls and towers symbolize Russian political power and are a UNESCO World Heritage site, reflecting its profound historical and cultural importance.
Can tourists visit the Kremlin, and what can they see there?
Yes, tourists can visit the Kremlin. Inside its walls, visitors can explore numerous palaces, cathedrals, and museums. Notable attractions include the Armory Chamber, which houses a collection of Russian state regalia, weaponry, and carriages, and the Diamond Fund exhibition, showcasing a stunning collection of jewels. The Cathedral Square is another highlight, surrounded by the Assumption, Annunciation, and Archangel Cathedrals, each with rich histories and ornate interiors.
How has the architecture of the Kremlin evolved over time?
The architecture of the Kremlin has evolved through a blend of Byzantine, Russian, and Italian influences. Initially constructed with wood, it was rebuilt in stone in the 14th century. The 15th and 16th centuries saw the addition of grand palaces and cathedrals, many designed by Italian architects. The iconic Spasskaya Tower was added in the 17th century, and the complex continued to evolve with the construction of the Grand Kremlin Palace in the 19th century, showcasing a mix of revivalist styles.
What is the role of the Kremlin in Russian government today?
Today, the Kremlin remains the epicenter of Russian political power, housing the official residence and working office of the President of Russia. It is also the main venue for state functions, presidential inaugurations, and diplomatic activities. The Kremlin Senate, a building within the complex, serves as the President's executive office, and the complex is also home to key military and governmental offices, reinforcing its status as a symbol of Russian state authority.
Are there any special ceremonies or events that take place at the Kremlin?
Several significant ceremonies and events take place at the Kremlin throughout the year. One of the most prominent is the Presidential Inauguration ceremony, which occurs every six years. Additionally, the Kremlin is the site of the Victory Day Parade on May 9th, commemorating the end of World War II in Europe. The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Alexander Garden, just outside the Kremlin walls, is another ceremonial event that attracts visitors.