Moscow Kremlin Guide

Kremlin can be compared to Hermitage in St Petersburg, or Louvre in Paris. It’s a top landmark in Moscow.
Let’s peep into our Moscow Tour and find out what makes the Kremlin #1 place in Russia. Here is all you need to know about Moscow Kremlin. 

What is the Kremlin?

The Moscow Kremlin includes:

  • 4 palaces: Great Kremlin Palace, State Kremlin Palace, Poteshny Palace and Terem Palace. For more palaces join us on private tours in St Petersburg, the city is a mecca for The Grandeuse.
  • 4 cathedrals: Assumption Cathedral, Annunciation Cathedral, Archangel Cathedral and Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles in the Patriarch’s Palace.
  • 5 squares: Trinity, Palace, Senate, Ivanovo and Cathedral.
  • Total 18 buildings: Church Our Lady’s Nativity Church Deposition of the Robe, the Assumption Cathedral, Cathedral of the Annunciation, Archangel Cathedral, Palace of Facets, Ivan the Great Bell Ensemble, Terem Palace, Tsarina’s Golden Chamber, Upper Saviour’s Cathedral and Terem Churches, Arsenal, The Patriarch’s Palace and the Twelve Apostles, the Senate, The Fun Palace, the Grand Kremlin Palace, State Kremlin Palace, the Armoury and the Military school of the Central Executive Committee.
  • 20 towers: Taynitskaya, Beklemishevskaya, Annunciation, Vodovzvodnaya, Peter Tower, Borovitskaya, First Nameless, The Second Nameless, Constantine and Helen, Nicholas, Spassky, Corner Arsenal, Nabatnaya, Senate, Middle Arsenal, Armory, Commandant, Trinity, Royal and Kutafiya.
  • And, of course, the legendary Tsar Cannon and Tsar Bell.

It’s not that we are lunatics and drop in every single church and cathedral on our Kremlin Tour. 80% of our tourists are fine with spending an hour or less inside the Kremlin.

The Kremlin complex serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation.

Kremlin Moscow tour

Moscow Kremlin is the official residence of Russian President Vladimir Putin

The Moscow Kremlin is the oldest part of the Russian capital, and by far the largest fortress in the whole territory of Russia, as well as the largest preserved fortress in Europe.

The word “Kremlin” is associated with the Moscow Kremlin complex. However, there is a local Kremlin in the cities of Kolomna, Syzran, Nizhny Novgorod, Smolensk, Astrakhan and other cities not only in Russia but also in Poland, Ukraine and Belarus.

According to the definition given in the “Dictionary” by Vladimir Dal, “kremlevnik” is a coniferous forest growing on moss bogs. And the “Kremlin” is a city surrounded by ramparts, towers and battlements. Thus, the name of the Kremlin structures comes from the varieties of wood that was used in the construction. Unfortunately, none of the wooden Kremlin in Russia have been preserved but the stone structures have, and Moscow Kremlin is, of course, the most famous of them.

The main symbol of Russia is located on the Borovitsky hill at a high left bank of the Moskva River. The complex is a triangle of irregular shape, with a total area of ​​27.7 hectares, surrounded by a massive wall with towers.

The south wall faces Moscow River, the eastern looks at Red Square, and the north-western borders the Kremlin from the Alexander Garden. The Kremlin is an independent administrative unit within the Moscow and is a UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage.

On our tours we ask our guests what they liked more – Red Square or the Kremlin. We’ll ask you too ; )

Russian Capital Moscow Kremlin

Moscow Tours. Kremlin Tour. Kremlin faces Red Square

The History of Moscow Kremlin. Ancient Times

For more than 900 years of its history, Moscow Kremlin has been through a lot. It is interesting that the first human settlements on the hill Borovitsky date back to 2 millennium BC. At that time the area of the Kremlin was completely covered with dense forests, hence the name of the hill – Borovitsky (Pine wood).

The first wooden fortifications were built on the Cathedral Square in the VIII-III centuries BC. Have a look at the objects related to the life of the ancient inhabitants of the Kremlin mountains in the basement of the Cathedral of the Annunciation, at an exhibition “Archaeology of the Moscow Kremlin.”

The Slavs occupied the south-western portion of the Borovitsky hill as early as the 11th century. Moscow started as the border fortress in the XII century. The founder of Moscow – Vladimir-Suzdal Prince Yuri Dolgoruky – built the fortress at the mouth of the river Neglinnaya, that united two fortified centers, located on the Borovitsky hill, into one. The Fortress then took the wrong triangle between current Troitsk, Borovitskiy and Secret Gate.

Moscow Kremlin Towers

Kremlin is a triangle in form

One of the first “senior people” who settled in the Moscow Kremlin was Ivan Kalita, who made the city of Moscow the largest and strongest in the Rus. In 1331 he made the Moscow Kremlin the main part of the city, and his own personal residence.

In the years of 1326-1327 was built Assumption Cathedral which has been the main temple of the Moscow Kremlin since then. In 1333 was built the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, where later was buried Ivan Kalita, his children and grandchildren and all Russian Tsars for five centuries till XVIII century, when Peter I moved the capital to Saint Petersburg.

During this period, Moscow and the Kremlin experienced numerous civil wars of the Russian princes, a huge fire and the invasion of Batiy Khan, so the wooden structures of the old Kremlin burnt over and over again. That was the reason why prince Dmitry Donskoy decided in 1365 to build the towers and the complex itself from the stone.

In the second half of the XV century began an ambitious reconstruction of the Moscow Kremlin, which created the Kremlin as we now it today. After the Italian masters built new towers and walls of the Kremlin, the Moscow Kremlin was often compared to the Scaligero castle in Verona and the famous Castello Sforzesco in Milan. However, unlike these structures Kremlin became not only home to the rulers of the country, but also a center of cultural and religious life of the entire state, with the most famous temples of Russia and the residence of the Metropolitan.

The best views on the Kremlin are from the Big Moskvoretsky and Patriarch Bridge, must-do on our Moscow Tours.

Best time to visit Moscow is summer

Kremlin view from the Bridge

The Soviet Kremlin

The Soviet government moved from Petrograd (present Saint Petersburg) to Moscow on 12 March 1918. Vladimir Lenin selected the Kremlin Senate as his residence. Joseph Stalin also had his personal rooms in the Kremlin, and was eager to remove from his headquarters all the “relics of the Tsarist regime”. Until 1953, that is, until the death of Stalin, the complex was closed for tourists and ordinary Muscovites.

During the Second World War, and, more precisely, in 1941, the Kremlin became a mask: all the old buildings were stylized as ordinary houses, roofs were painted green, gilded domes covered with dark paint, crosses removed, stars on the towers were sheathed. On the Kremlin walls were painted windows and doors of aka residential houses. In case of Nazi invasion, the main buildings and structures were planned to mine.

In 1935, the Kremlin lost its two-headed eagles, and in 1937 five highest towers –  Spassky, Borovitskaya, St. Nicholas, Trinity and the Water Tower – got their glowing ruby ​​stars on top. On the site of the demolished Ascension and Miracle Monastery building was erected Military School, extremely changing the appearance of the ancient architectural complex.

Why a symbol of Soviet power was a five-pointed star? Lots of guesses… However, it is known it was suggester by Leon Trotsky, who was seriously into spirituality. He knew that the star has a very powerful energy and is one of the most powerful symbols. The weight of each of the Kremlin stars is more than a ton.

The stars are beautiful, but whirling stars are gorgeous! Moscow is big, a lot of tourists come to Moscow, so it was decided that the Kremlin stars should whirl. At the base of each star was established a special bearing. Because of this, and in spite of considerable weight, the stars could easily rotate, turning their “face” to the wind.

The day before the installing, the Kremlin stars were put on display in Gorky Park.

Kremlin stars were not always ruby. The first stars, established in October 1935 were from high-alloy stainless steel and red copper. However, with time gems faded, and the stars were too big and did not fit into the architectural ensemble. In May 1937, due to 20th anniversary of the October Revolution, it was decided to install new stars – ruby. This time one more tower got its glowing star – the fifth tower – Vodovzvodnaya. 500 square meters of ruby ​​glass and a new selenium ruby technology resulted in what we see today, after almost 80 years of installing new ruby stars.

In 1955, the Moscow Kremlin re-opened its doors to ordinary visitors, and launched the Museum of Applied Art and Life of Russia XVII century, located in the Patriarch’s Palace. The last large-scale reconstruction in the Kremlin was the erection of the Palace of Congresses in 1961 that modern architects call “Steklyashka” (a piece of broken glass) on the background of the ancient Kremlin buildings and consider it a crime of the Soviet power.

Top sights in Moscow

Soviet heritage in Moscow

 Tsar Cannon and Tsar Bell

Two paradoxes of Russia: the biggest bell that never rang and the biggest cannon that never shot.

Tsar Bell is really the biggest bell in the world, created in the years of 1733-1735.

A Tsar Cannon is the largest big gun on the planet with their caliber of 890 millimeters. Gun, weighing 40 tons, never fired a single shot.

Tsar Cannon in Moscow

Tsar Cannon and a little girl

 Kremlin Wall

The existing Kremlin walls and towers were built by Italian masters over the years of 1485 to 1495. The irregular triangle of the Kremlin wall encloses an area of 275,000 square metres (68 acres). The overall length of Kremlin walls is 2235 metres (2444 yards), the height ranges from 5 to 19 metres, depending on the terrain. The wall’s thickness is between 3.5 and 6.5 metres. Most likely all the towers and walls of the Kremlin were literally “permeated” by numerous secret passages and tunnels, as the main idea of the Kremlin at that time was a fortress with high functionality.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a war memorial, dedicated to the Soviet soldiers killed during World War II. It is located at the Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden in Moscow. “Your name is unknown, your deed is immortal”. Change of the guards is every hour in summer, every half an hour in winter.

Presidential Guard of Russia at Kremlin wall

Changing of the Guard at Kremlin Wall in Alexander Garden

Eternal Flame at Kremlin

Eternal Flame in Alexander Garden

Ghosts of the Moscow Kremlin

It is not surprising that such an ancient building with graves, mysteries and secret rooms, is of interest not only to archaeologists, scientists and historians, but also mystics.

Though we do not give “Ghosts of Moscow” tours (we are too scared for that), we believe that Kremlin could have its own ghosts. Thus, in the Commandant’s tower was seen a disheveled pale woman with a gun in her hand, which allegedly was Fanny Kaplan shot by a Kremlin commandant.

The ghost of of Ivan the Terrible for several centuries lived in the lower tier of the bell tower. The Emperor Nicholas II himself saw the ghost of Ivan the Terrible on the eve of his coronation.
Constantine and Helen Tower has bad reputation – here in the XVII century was a torture chamber. Since then there were recorded the cases of blood drops, which then disappeared.

Another ghostly inhabitant of the Moscow Kremlin, is of course, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who was seen in his office in a former apartment. However, nobody saw the spirit of Stalin since his death after March 5, 1953.

Kremlin cathedrals

Mysterious Moscow Kremlin

Putin and Kremlin

Putin’s day begins at half past eight. In the morning the president is busy in the gym, then swimming 1000 meters.

At breakfast, Putin does not eat any delicacies, just some porridge, quail eggs, and for dessert cottage cheese with honey. Putin drinks a cocktail of his own production, the recipe is a secret, but we know two ingredients: a beet and horseradish. Talking about health and nutrition, the President noted that there is no special Kremlin diet, calling such rumors a nonsense.

Putin works from morning until late night. During the working day, the president’s snacks are dried apricots and dates with a glass of tea that he brings in the most simple thermos. Closer to the night the president receives visitors at his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo. (More facts about Putin and Russia, if you need to know).

President travels by plane. Together with the president in an airplane fly FSO employees who usually watch movies during flights. In presidential avia menu there is cheese, cakes and seafood. All cutlery on board is plastic – a measure of security, rather than saving.

Moscow Kremlin nowadays is estimated at US $50 billion, or 1.5 trillion Russian rubles, according to a consulting group “Uphill”.

All you need to know about Kremlin

Spasskaya Tower


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