The Kremlin towers are a great reminder of the origins of the Kremlin.
Here are fun facts about the Kremlin towers from Kremlin tour in Moscow: let’s see what are the best preserved towers, the patrol tower, the youngest, the smallest, the highest, the most powerful, the tower with the Kremlin Clock.
Beklemishevskaya (Moskvoretskaya) tower
Height – 46.2 m.
Built in 1487-1488 by the Italian architect Mark Fryazin. Was located near the connection of the Moscow River with a moat and had an important defensive role.
The first name comes from the tower adjoining the courtyard Boyar Beklemishev. Ivan Beklemishev was known as “Bersen”, that is “gooseberry” in Old Russian (hence Bersenevskaya embankment). He led the boyar opposition against authorities, for what Vasily III ordered to cut off his head. Bersen’s court, together with the tower, was used as a prison for the disgraced boyars like him.
This is one of the few towers of the Kremlin, which was almost never rebuilt.
Constantine and Helen Tower
Height – 36.8 m.
Built in 1490 by Pietro Antonio Solari. Received its present name after the construction of Constantine and Helen church in the 17th (demolished in 1928).
Earlier in its place was an ancient white stone tower from Dimitry Donskoy’s times (XIV century). Through its gates Dimitri Donskoy left to the famous Battle of Kulikovo in 1380.
Height – 38 m.
The name comes from hanging alarm bell, which served as a fire alarm system. Built in 1495, and maintained its original form very well.
It was a patrol tower of the Kremlin fortress. Columns of smoke indicated the approach of the enemy and the watchmen reported by the ringing the bells. Muscovites then hurried to hide behind the Kremlin walls.
In 1771, during the rebellion, the rebels struck the Spassky alarm and thus Muscovites all gathered in the Kremlin. At the end of the rebellion, Catherine II ordered to remove the tongue of the bell and for more than 30 years, the bell hung in the tower without toungue. In 1821 the bell moved to the Armory, where the it’s now hanging in the lobby.
Height with weather vane – 16,7 m.
It is the youngest and smallest tower of the Moscow Kremlin, built in 1680. Its octagonal tent poles on the pitcher resemble common at that time stone porches of houses. Maintained its original form really well.
Strictly speaking, this is not the tower, but a tent on the wall. Once there was a small wooden turret, from which, according to a legend, Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible) loved to watch the events that took place on the Red Square – hence the name of the tower.
Spasskaya Tower (Savior)
Height with a star – 71 m.
During the construction of the tower was approximately two times lower. In the years of 1624-1625 English architect Christopher Galloway with the participation of Russian masters Bazhen Ogurtsov (Bazhen Cucumber) built a multi-tiered tower in the Gothic style on top of the present tower.
If the enemy penetrated the tower, the iron bars dropped, and the enemy was trapped in a kind of stone bag. He was then shot from the upper gallery of strelnitsa (machicolation).
In the mid-17th century on the main tower of the Kremlin was hoisted the first double-headed eagle.
Spassky Gates were considered saint. People couldn’t pass through them on horseback, and had to remove hats in front of the icon of Saviour. Anyone who disobeyed the rules, had to do 50 prostrations. Criminals sentenced to death who were executed on Lobnoe Mesto (Calvary) prayed to the icon.
Spasskaya tower was also the official entrance to the Kremlin for foreign embassadors and Russian leaders. All the rulers of Russia since Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich (1612) solemnly passed through Spasskie Gates before the coronation.
Famous astronomical clock were manufactured in 1625 under the leadership of an English mechanic. Christopher Galloway. Modern chimes were made by brothers Nicholas and Ivan Budenop in 1851-1852, and are set on 8-10 tiers of Spassky Tower. Brothers-watchmakers were Danes, but with Russian names – Ivan and Nicholas.
The Kremlin Clock weighs 25 tons. The numerals are 72 cm, the length of the hour hand is 2.97 m, and of the minute hand is 3.27 m. Kremlin chimes ring 2 times a day.
From the 1600s until 1935 the tower was crowned with a gilded double-headed eagle. In August 1935 the eagle was replaced by a star.
In recent years, social activists and the church insist on returning the Eagles, however no official statement was made.
Spasskaya Tower has 10 floors.
Height – 34 m.
Built in 1491 by architect Pietro Antonio Solari. The tower hot its name after the completion of the the Senate Palace in 1787. The Tower is located in front of the Lenin’s Mausoleum.
In 1948 there was created a passage to the Mausoleum so that the members of Central Committee could take their places on the rostrum during the parades without Red Square passing.
St. Nicholas Tower
Height with a star – 70,4 m.
Built in 1491, designed by Pietro Antonio Solari. Named after the icon of St. Nicholas, which was located above the gates. According to a tradition, this tower with the icon of St. Nicholas – the saint of God, the most revered in Russia – was the place for the citizens to solve their disputes.
In 1612, it was through the gate of St. Nicholas and Spasskaya tower where Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin solemnly entered the Kremlin on November 1, liberating Russia from Polish invasion. Kremlin’s Arsenal is adjacent to the Kremlin wall between St. Nicholas and Corner Arsenal Tower.
St. Nicholas Tower stands out for its Baroque décor.
In 1806 the tower was rebuilt and a gothic top and delicate ornaments were added. This is the main difference between the tower of St. Nicholas and all the other towers of the Kremlin.
Corner Arsenal Tower
Height – 60.2 m.
The most powerful tower of the Moscow Kremlin. The substrate is very extended, what gives the tour more stability.
Height with a star – 80 m.
It is the highest tower of the Kremlin. Gate tower are the main entrance for visitors Kremlin. Built in 1495-1499 years. Trinity Bridge unties Trinity Tower with Kutafia tower.
The two-story base of the tower housed a prison in the 16-17th centuries. The upper space was connected with the lower space with a small hatch through which only one person could climb. It was the only way out of this “stone bag”.
Two-headed eagle of Trinity Tower was the oldest (1870) and a ruby star, established in 1937, was the most massive, weighing about 1.5 tons.
According to its administrative importance it is the second tower after the Savior. Gate tower served as the solemn meeting of Tsars, entrance to the mansion of Metropolitan, the queen’s and princesses’ apartments.
Now here is based Presidential Orchestra of Russia.
Height – 13.5 m.
The only surviving tower- strelnitsa (machiocolation). Built in 1516 under the leadership of Aleviz Fryazin.
The tower had only one goal – to tightly close part of the bridge in moments of danger.
Height with a star – 54.05 meters.
The tower’s name, according to a legend, is derived from the ancient pine forest that covered once one of the seven hills on which stands Moscow.
If there is a flag of a foreign state on Borovitskaya tower, it means that a foreign president is currently visiting the Kremlin.
Today Borovitskiye Gates are the only travel gates of the Kremlin. President Putin and his administration pass Borovitskie gates when entering the Kremlin.
Supposedly, Borovitskie Gates are the most ancient of the Kremlin gates, and there is an underground passage underneath them.
Height – 38.4 m.
Taynitskaya tower is the central tower of the southern wall of the Kremlin. This tower was the starting point of the construction of the existing Kremlin walls and towers, as the Kremlin was often threatened by Tatars from the south, and old white stone walls here were the most dilapidated.
Taynitskaya (Secret) tower got its name from a well-hidden cache and access to the Moscow River.
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