As the dominance of Kiev faded and its empire fragmented under the weight of foreign invasion and internecine strife in the 11th and 12th centuries, regional princes gained power. In 1147, as Kievan Rus was experiencing its final death throes, a chronicler recorded that a feast was held at the hunting lodge of Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy, ruling prince of Rostov and Suzdal. The lodge was perfectly situated atop a hill overlooking the Moskva and Neglina rivers, prompting its development (in such troubled times) as a fortified town, or Kremlin.
Within a century, the town had risen to become an independent principality within the Mongol empire. By the middle of the 14th century, its princes had gained such pre-eminence that Moscow was made the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church. With Ivan the Great (1462-1505) at its helm, Muscovite rule extended over all of Russia , and the Kremlin became more magnificent, befitting its role as the seat of Russian power. By 1480 the once modest hunting lodge had become an imposing fortress city. Its stone walls were graced by the magnificent Cathedral of the Assumption, where Ivan defiantly tore up the charter binding Moscow to Mongol rule. Over the next two centuries, until Peter the Great transferred the capital of Russia to St. Petersburg , the Kremlin served as the central stage for the magnificent and occasionally horrific history of the Tsars.
With the shift of power to St. Petersburg , the city and the Kremlin declined. However, the Bolsheviks' choice of Moscow as their capital in March 1918 returned it to preeminence, and during Soviet rule the Kremlin experienced its second life as a great center of power. Although the Soviet state certainly left its mark on the Kremlin, the centuries-old citadel very much retains the aura of early Tsarist Russia. Especially in Cathedral Square , where the spirits of Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov, and the early Romanovs loom much larger than those of Stalin or even Lenin himself.
For centuries of its existence the Moscow Kremlin has been witness of many famous and tragic events of our history. Enemy guns rattled at its walls, celebrations and revolts took place. Now the Moscow Kremlin is one of the biggest museums of the world. State regalia of Russia , invaluable icons, treasures of Russian tsars are stored in the Kremlin chambers and cathedrals.
The collections of the Kremlin museums are unsurpassable in their variety: they comprise early Russian painting, icons, 12th - 17th century frescoes; side and firearms made by Russian, Oriental and Western European masters of the 14th - 19th centuries; carriages, sledges, coaches and ceremonial horsecloths of the 16th - 19th centuries; Oriental carpets and Western European tapestries; articles by Russian and Western European silversmiths; household articles of the 17th and 18th centuries; illuminated manuscripts, books, porcelain, carved stone, and archaeological findings.
Red Square is the famous square in Moscow which used to house huge military parades during the Soviet era. The word "red" doesn't refer to the color of the bricks or to Communism. In Russian, the square is called Krasnaya Ploschad. The word krasnaya means both "red" and "beautiful," and the latter, referring to St. Basil's Cathedral, was the original meaning. The Red Square has several notable places within or framing the space. One of these is Lobnoe mesto.
Lobnoye Mesto, or "Place of Skulls," is a circular raised platform on which public executions were carried out in the days of the tsars. In 1768 next to Lobnoye Mesto the landowner Darya Saltykova, who had tortured 139 of her serfs to death, was exposed to public contempt in the pillory. While a scribe read out the list of her crimes, Saltykova stood with her head bared as an act of humiliation, and a label was hung round her neck with the legend: 'Torturer and Murderess.' After this she was sent to Ivanovsky Convent and confined there for the rest of her days.
Memorial to Minin and Pozharsky.
They were the leaders of the second group of Russian irregular soldiers in 1612, and the memorial was erected in 1818 to the design of the sculptor I. Martos. One of the bas-reliefs depicts how the citizens of Nizhny Novgorod on the Volga responded to Minin's summons by leading their sons to be armed, while the other shows the flight of the Poles from the Kremlin, and the Russian troops chasing after them. Up to 1936 the memorial stood in the centre of Red Square , with Minin symbolically indicating to Pozharsky that the Poles were occupying the Kremlin and calling for its relief.
However, Lenin's Mausoleum was built right opposite the memorial, and Minin's summons to battle was felt to be ambiguous, and the memorial was also a nuisance during parades. An instruction was given for its destruction, but later it was transferred to a position close to St. Basil's Cathedral.
The Mausoleum was built in January 1924 to preserve Lenin's body. The name comes from the grand tomb of King Mausolus of Caria, which was built in Halicarnassus in the fourth century BC. Lenin's coffin was brought from the village of Gorki , where he died, on 23 January and placed in the Hall of Columns of the House of Unions for people to pay their last respects. The same night the architect A. Shchusev was instructed by the government to design and build a temporary mausoleum near the Kremlin walls in which the body would remain until the funeral. Shchusev wandered around Red Square for a long time, and by sunset the design for a wooden mausoleum was prepared. It was in the form of a cube (the symbol of eternity) with a height of three metres. Lenin's body, with its face uncovered, was placed in a glass sarcophagus, and thousands of people filed past each day.
Krupskaya, Lenin's widow, and his brother and sister protested at this blasphemous form of burial, and expressed the wish that he be laid to rest in the earth. However, Lenin's closest political allies were intent on exploiting his body for Bolshevik propaganda and to strengthen their grip on power.
Saint Basil's Cathedral
At the southern end of the square is the elaborate gold-domed building of Saint Basil's Cathedral and also the palaces and cathedrals of the Kremlin. Real official name of this building is "the Cathederal of the Protection of Our Lady on a Dike", but it is better known as "Vasiliy the God's Fool" (or St. Basils in English). It was built in times of Ivan the Terrible in honour of victory of Moscow over Kazan . The building appeared to be so beautiful, that tsar Ivan ordered to blind an architect. Justly he was called Terrible. In 1812, the French army stabled their horses in St.Basil's Cathedral. Before leaving Moscow , Napoleon ordered it to be blown up,but cold, hunger and fear of sabotage by the people of Moscow prevented the order from being carried out.
Little remained from ancient Moscow , except for the Kremlin. Ghosts love the Kremlin. From time to time, a red spot appears on the walls of Konstantino-Eleninskaya tower where a torture chamber was located in XVII century. A pale uncombed lady holding a gun in her hands, lives in Komendantskaya tower. This is famous Fanny Kaplan who attempted to kill Lenin and who was executed by shooting by Kremlin"s superintendent Malkov. A terrifying shadow of Ivan the Terrible is walking on the bell tower named after Ivan the Great. Czar Dmitry Pretender appears on the Kremlin"s wall. Last time he was seen there in August 1991. The might-have-been czar was gesticulating and giving some signs to people. The prophecy was understood only in the morning, after a coup happened and the plotters read their address on the radio. And the ghost of Stalin"s special services chief Ezhov is not interested in politics. He just walks around the Patriarch Chambers where his apartments were located before. Even in the corridors of the Kremlin Palace of Congresses one can encounter semi-transparent figures dressed in shrouds. Don"t think that they are deputies who were exhausted to death at the boring Congresses! At one point, there was a cemetery here, and the souls of the dead people are indignant about the sacrilege.