Robin's Adventures

Central and Eastern Europe
An Adventure Steeped in History

Kremlin Overview

The Kremlin is a fortified complex in the center of Moscow which is used to house the government of the Russian nation. The word kremlin means "fortress inside a city" and inside there are numerous government buildings, churches, cathedrals, and the official residence of the Russian president.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located just outside of the Kremlin wall, is a monument to Russian soldiers from World War II.

The tomb contains remains of soldiers who fell in the Battle of Moscow in 1941. A plaque near the tomb says \"Your name is unknown, your deed is immortal.\"

Towers and Gates

The current walls surrounding the Kremlin, originally built between 1485 and 1495, form an irregular triangular shape that encloses 68 acres. The wall is 2,444 yards long and varies in thickness between 11 feet and 21 feet. There are twenty towers strategically placed around the wall.

Palace of Congress

The only modern building within the walls of the Kremlin is the Palace of Congress which was built in 1961 at the request of Nikita Khrushchev.

Almost half (about 55 feet) of the concrete and glass structure is submerged underground. The main hall, which is said to have wonderful acoustics, can seat up to 6,000 people.

The palace was designed to host mass state events and meetings of the party congress. Currently, however, the building is used as a concert hall.

The Arsenal

The Arsenal is used by the Kremlin Regiment which forms the Russian president's main security service. Although this building is closed to the public, the nearby armory building is open as a museum which displays weapons, jewelry, and personal items that once belonged to the tsars.

The Tsar Cannon, a large 20 foot long cannon that was made in 1586, is also on display near the armory. It holds the record for the \"largest bombard by caliber\" in the world.

The Tsar Bell, a large 22 foot diameter bronze bell, is also on display near the Ivan the Great Bell Tower. The bell was commissioned by Empress Anna in 1733 and while casting was still in progress a fire broke out that caused the guards to throw water on the bell. A huge slab broke off and as a result the bell has never been hung or rung, but remains on display as a tourist attraction.

Grand Palace and Kremlin Presidium

The Grand Palace, which was formerly the Moscow residence of the tsar, is currently the official residence of the Russian president. The building has five reception halls that are used for state functions, diplomatic receptions, and official ceremonies.

The Kremlin Presidium was used for meetings of the Supreme Soviet, the legislative body of the Soviet Union. Today the building houses administrative offices of the president.

Cathedral Square

A large central square in the Kremlin, appropriately called Cathedral Square, is surrounded by an assortment of large cathedrals, churches, and the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.

The square had been used in the past for the coronations and funeral processions of the Russian tsars and recently for the inauguration of the Russian president.

Church of the Twelve Apostiles

The Church of the Twelve Apostles, built in 1640, is connected to the palace of the patriarch, or head of the Russian church. Following the Russian revolution, the church was closed down and re-purposed as a museum for 17th century life and art.

Cathedral of the Archangel

The Cathedral of the Archangel, built in 1508 and dedicated to the archangel Michael, is located in Cathedral Square of the Kremlin.

The remains of the rulers of Moscow and Russia are buried in the cathedral, 46 tombs in all. There is also a special burial vault for Tsar Ivan the Terrible and his two sons.

The cathedral, which was closed following the Russian revolution, is currently used as a museum.

Cathedral of the Assumption

The Cathedral of the Assumption is the oldest of all the Kremlin churches. Russian emperors, tsars, and grand dukes were crowned in this church and the highest members of the clergy were consecrated here.

It is said that Napoleon used the church as a stable for his horses during his bid to take over Russia. It is also rumored that Stalin secretly allowed a service to be performed here in 1941 when the Nazis arrived on the outskirts of Moscow.