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Citadel of the Tsars, headquarters of the Soviet Union and now the residence of the Russian president, for centuries the Kremlin has been a symbol of the power of the State. In 1156, Prince Yuriy Dolgorukiy chose the confluence of the Moskva and Neglinnaya rivers as the site for the first wooden Kremlin (kreml means “fortress”). Late in the 15th century, Tsar Ivan III  invited several leading Italian architects to build a sumptuous new complex. They designed the Cathedral of the Assumption and the Faceted Palace, among other buildings, in a fascinating fusion of EarlyRussian and imported Renaissance styles . The Kremlin did not escape the architectural vandalism of the 1930s, when it was closed and several of its churches and palaces were destroyed on Stalin’s orders . Only in 1955, two years after his death, was the Kremlin partially reopened to the public.

Trinity Towe

This tower takes its name from the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius , which once had a mission nearby. The tower’s Trinity Gate used to be the entrance for patriarchs and the tsars’ wives and daughters. Today it is one of only two that admit visitors. The other is in the Borovitskaya Tower to the southwest.

At 76 m (249 ft) high, the seven-storey Trinity Tower is the Kremlin’s tallest. It was built in 1495–9 and in 1516 was linked by a bridge over the Neglinnaya river to the Kutafya Tower. The river now runs underground and the Kutafya Tower is the sole survivor of the circle of towers that were originally built to defend the Kremlin walls. In September 1812 Napoleon triumphantly marched his army into the Kremlin through the Trinity Gate – they left only a month later when the Russians set fire to the city.

State Kremlin Palace

Commissioned by Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1959 to host Communist Party conferences, the Palace of Congresses is the Kremlin’s only modern building. It was completed in 1961 by a team of architects led by Mikhail Posokhin. Roughly 120 m (395 ft) long, the palace was sunk 15 m (49ft) into the ground so as not to dwarf the surrounding buildings. Until 1991 the 6,000-seat auditorium was the venue for political meetings. Now it is used by the Kremlin Ballet Company  and for staging operas and rock concerts.

Patriarch’s Palace

The metropolitans of the Russian Orthodox Church lived on the site of the current Patriarch’s Palace for many years. In the 16th century, the patriarchate was created, and the patriarch took over from the metropolitans as the most senior figure in the Russian Church. As a result the bishops of Krutitsy became metropolitans  while the patriarch lived in the Kremlin. When Nikon became the patriarch in 1652, he felt that the existing residence and the small Church of the Deposition of the Robe  were not grand enough for him. He had the residence extended and renovated to create the Patriarch’s Palace, with its integral Church of the Twelve Apostles. Completed in 1656, the work was carried out by a team of master builders led by Ivan Semenov and Aleksey Korolkov.

the Museum of 17th-Century Life and Applied Art. Recently renovated, it comprises a new exhibition hall and more than 1,000 exhibits drawn from the State Armoury collection and from churches and monasteries that were destroyed by Stalin in the 1930s . Entry to the museum is up a short flight of stairs. The first room houses an exhibition on the history of the palace. In the Gala Antechamber is a dazzling array of 17th-century patriarchs’ robes. Some of Nikon’s own vestments are on display, including a chasuble (sakkos), a set of beautifully carved staffs and a cowl made from damask and satin, and embroidered with gold thread. Two rooms in the museum have been refurbished in the style of a 17th-century boyar’s apartment. In one of them is a display of old, hand-written books, including Tsarevich Alexis’ primer. Each page features one letter of the alphabet and a selection of objects beginning with that letter.

The impressive Chamber of the Cross, to the left of the stairs, has an area of 280 sq m (3,013 sq ft). When this ceremonial hall was built, it was the largest room in Russia without columns supporting its roof. Its ceiling is painted with a delicate tracery of flowers. The room was later used for producing consecrated oil called miro, and the silver vats and ornate stove used still stand in the room. Nikon’s rejection of new architectural forms, such as tent roofs, dictated a traditional design for the Church of the Twelve Apostles. Located to the right of the stairs, it houses some brilliant icons, including works by master iconographers such as Semen Ushakov. The iconostasis dates from around 1700. It was brought to the church from the Kremlin Convent of the Ascension prior to its demolition in 1929.

Ivan the Great Bell Tower

This elegant bell tower (currently under restoration) was built in 1505–8 to a design by Marco Bon Friazin. It takes its name from the Church of St Ivan Climacus, which stood on the site in the 14th century. The bell tower is called “the Great” because of its height. In 1600 it became the tallest building in Moscow when Tsar Boris Godunov added a third story to extend it to 81m (266 ft). The four-storey Assumption Belfry, with its single gilded dome,was built beside the bell tower by Petrok Maliy in 1532–43. It holds 21 bells, the largest of which, the 64- tonne Assumption Bell, traditionally tolled three times when the tsar died. A small museum on the first floor houses changing displays about the Kremlin. The tentroofed annexe next to the belfry was commissioned by Patriarch Filaret in 1642. Outside the bell tower is the enormous Tsar Bell. The largest in the world, it weighs over 200 tonnes. When it fell from the bell tower and shattered in a fire in 1701, the fragments were used in a second bell ordered by Tsarina Anna. This still lay in its casting pit when the Kremlin caught fire again in 1737. Cold water was poured over the hot bell and a large piece (displayed beside the bell) broke off.

Cathedral of the Assumption

From the early 14th century, the Cathedral of the Assumption was the most important church in Moscow. It was here that princes were crowned and the metropolitans and patriarchs of the Orthodox Church were buried. In the 1470s Ivan the Great  decided to build a more imposing cathedral, to reflect the growing might of the nation during his reign. When the first version collapsed possibly in an earthquake, Ivan summoned the Italian architect Aristotele Fioravanti to Moscow. He designed a light and spacious masterpiece in the spirit of the Renaissance.

Cathedral of the Archangel 6

This was the last of the great cathedrals in the Kremlin to be built. It was commissioned by Ivan III in 1505, shortly before his death. Designed by a Venetian architect, Aleviz Novyy, it is a skilful combination of Early-Russian and Italian Renaissance architecture. The most striking of the Italian features is the scallop shell motif underneath the zakomary gables 

This site was the burial place for Moscow’s princes and tsars from 1340, first in an earlier cathedral and then in the current building. The tombs of the tsars, white stone sarcophagi with bronze covers inscribed in Old Slavonic, are in the nave. The tomb of Tsarevich Dmitry, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible , has a carved, painted canopy above it. The tsars were no longer buried here after the capital city was moved to St Petersburg in 1712. Peter II, who died of smallpox in Moscow in 1730, was the only later ruler to be buried here.

The walls, pillars and domes of the cathedral are covered with superb frescoes painted in 1652–66 by a team of artists led by Semen Ushakov, the head of the icon workshop in the State Armoury. There are over 60 full-length idealized portraits of Russian rulers, as well as some striking images of the Archangel Michael, traditionally the protector of the rulers of early Moscow. The fresco in the cathedral’s central cupola depicts the threefold nature of God. The Father holds the Son on his lap and the Holy Spirit, in the form of a white dove, hovers between them. The four-tiered iconostasis was constructed in 1680–81. However, the Icon of the Archangel Michael on the lowest tier dates from the 14th century.

Cathedral of the Annunciation

Unlike the other Kremlin cathedrals, which were created by Italians, the ornate Cathedral of the Annunciation is a wholly Russian affair. Commissioned by Ivan III in 1484 as a royal chapel, it stands be-side the Faceted Palace , which is all that remains of a large palace built for Ivan III around the same time. The cathedral, built by architects from Pskov , originally had three domes and open galleries on all sides but, after a fire in 1547, the corner chapels were added and the galleries were enclosed. On the south façade is the Groznenskiy Porch, added by Ivan the Terrible when he contravened church law by marrying for the fourth time in 1572. Barred from attending religious services, he could only watch through a grille in the porch

The whole of the interior of the cathedral, including the galleries, is painted with frescoes. The artwork around the iconostasis was painted in 1508 by the monk Feodosius, the son of the icon painter Dionysius who worked on the Cathedral of the Assumption. The warm colours of the frescoes create an atmosphere of intimacy (this was the tsars’ family church). At the same time the vertical thrust of the pillars draws the eye upwards to the cupola and its awe-inspiring painting of Christ Pantocrator (Christ as ruler of the universe).
Three of the greatest masters of icon painting in Russia contributed to the iconostasis, widely considered the finest in Russia. Theophanes the Greek painted the images of Christ, the Virgin and the Archangel Gabriel in the Deesis Tier, while the Icon of the Archangel Michael on this tier is attributed to Andrey Rublev. Several of the icons in the Festival Tier, including The Annunciation and The Nativity were also painted by Rublev. Most of the other icons in this tier, including the The Last Supper and The Crucifixion are the work of Prokhor Gorodetskiy.

THE KREMLIN THE KREMLIN Reviewed by MELANIE INFINITY on January 08, 2020 Rating: 5

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