History of Moscow Kremlin

History of Moscow Kremlin

Moscow was founded by Prince Yuri Dolgoruky as the fortress intended for protection of the western borders of Suzdal principality. The new fort was surrounded by wooden walls, which laid the foundation of the Kremlin. In 1156, on Borovitsky Hill the fortress with eight-meter earth wall and powerful for the time 3-m tall and 1,200-m thick wooden wall was erected. It lasted like that until the winter of 1237-1238 when hordes of Batu Khan plundered and burned Moscow and the Kremlin. In 1339-1340 under Ivan Kalita strong fortifications followed by the Grand Duke's mansion, Metropolitan Chamber and white stone cathedrals were constructed. Moscow was becoming the political and spiritual center of Russia, and the Kremlin - the seat of the great princes and metropolitans (Kremlin became the official residence of the tsars in 1547 when the Grand Prince of Moscow Ivan IV the Terrible became the tsar). In 1367-1368 Prince Dmitry Donskoy fearing another Mongol-Tatar invasion built white-stone walls and towers around the fort. They were located at a distance of 60 m from the old oak fortifications. It was then that the name “white stoned Moscow” was coined. The area of the Kremlin reached its present-day size.

In the end of the 15th century, by the order of Grand Duke Ivan III, the construction of new Kremlin was started. In 1485-1495 the famous 2-km long and 5-19-m toothed brick walls were erected. At the same the famous Kremlin towers, the Cathedral of the Assumption (1475-1479), the Annunciation Cathedral (1484-1489), the Emperor's Palace with the Palace of Facets (1487-1491), the Archangel Cathedral (1505) were being built. The work lasted for 14 years after which due to the efforts of Russian and Italian architects the mighty fortress, the unique structure of that time appeared. From 1475 to 1508 the architectural complex of the Kremlin was completed. The Moscow Kremlin became one of the most important fortresses in Europe. Moreover, its towers, churches and other buildings were perfect not only in terms of its architecture but also the interiors and decoration. In the 17th century the Kremlin towers (except Nikolskaya) were decorated with multi-tiered hipped roofs in the traditions of old Russian architecture. Bright-green tiles, the white-stone facets, gilded weathervanes created the impression of conviviality and smartness. The civil and religious buildings such as the Terem Palace (1635-1635), the Amusement Palace (1651-1652), the Patriarch's Palace and the Twelve Apostles Church (1642-1656) were built. The Kremlin also had underground tunnels and hiding places, which served to shelter people in case of danger or for the access to water sources. Special underground galleries were intended to fight off the enemies trying to penetrate the fortress by means of underground tunnels. In the 17th century the Kremlin lost its military significance since the boundaries of the state moved away from Moscow. Cannons and the rest of the arsenal were removed and the towers were left for decorative purposes. In the 18th century the ancient Kremlin began to change its patriarchal look. Thus, in place the Tsar’s yard (15th century the new Winter Palace grew. In 1810, by the decree of Alexander I the museum was built, known as the Moscow Armory. In 1838-1851 the new palace complex was erected in the Kremlin. It included the Great Kremlin Palace, built on the site of the Winter Palace, the building of Apartments and a new, more solemn building of the Moscow Armory. The new buildings formed the ensemble of the square, known as the Palace, or Imperial Square.

In March 1918 the first Soviet Government moved into the Kremlin and was closed to public. In 1929 the ancient Chudov and Ascension monasteries were demolished and the military school was built. From 1955 the Kremlin was again made available for public. In 1961, at the Troitsky Gate, on the place of the first the first Armory, the Palace of Congresses (today - the State Kremlin Palace) was constructed. This was the last major building in the Kremlin. In 1991 the State History and Culture Museum-Reserve Moscow Kremlin was established.