The Kremlin

1147 - 20th cent

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Google-Earth file MoscowKreml.kmz

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History of Moscow

Moscow is mentioned by the chroniclers for the first time in 1147, when Prince Yuri Dolgoruki of Suzdal invited Prince Svyatoslav Olgovitch of Chernigov to visit him there. It long remained a place of no importance. In 1325 Metropolitan Peter transferred his residence from Vladimir to Mocow. This example was followed in 1328 by Grand-Prince Ivan Danilovitch Kalita (1328-10), who was recognized in 1333 by the Grand-Khan as chief ruler of Russia. He surrounded the town with a palisade, and gave the name of Kremlin to the castle. Under Demetrius Donskoi (13B3-89) the town was unsuccessfully besieged (1363) by Grand-Prince Olgierd of Lithuania, and in 1382 it was laid in ashes by the il-Khan Tokhlamysh.

During the succeeding period it was frequently sacked by Mongolian hordes, and did not attain any great degree of prosperity until the reign of Ivan III. Vasilyevitch (1462-1505), who made Moscow the center of the now united kingdom, and beautified it by numerous buildings, and called Italian architects to rebuild the Kremlin churches. In 1520, during the reign of Vasili Ivanovitch (1605-33), the town is said to have contained 45,000 dwelling-houses. Under Ivan the Terrible (1533-84) the vigorous development of the city was interrupted by conflagrations (in 1647, etc.) and by hostile invasions, as in 1671, when it was captured by Devlet-Girei, Khan of the Crim-Tartars. In 1553 Ivan concluded a commercial treaty with Queen Elizabeth of England, after the landing of Sir Richard Chancellor on the shores of the White Sea. In 1591 the Tartars, under Kara-Girei, attacked Moscow for the last time. In 1612 the Poles, who had supported the claim of the False Demetrius to the throne of the Tsars, were expelled, and in 1613 Mikhail Feodorovitch Romanov, though under seventeen years of age, was chosen Tsar by the National Assembly.

In 1711 the capital of the empire was removed to the newly built St. Petersburg, but the immediate successors of Peter the Great continued to favour the Kremlin rather than the still undeveloped town on the Neva. In 1748 Moscow was raised to the dignity of an eparchy and in 1755 its university was founded.

The fate of Moscow in 1812 is universally known. On Sept. 2nd the Governor, Count Rostopovchin, with the great majority of the population, left the city. Napoleon entered it on the same day and on the following day began the conflagration, which was not subdued until Sept. 6th (18th), when three-fourths of all the houses in the city lay in ashes.

Adapted from Karl Baedeker, "Russia", Leipzig, 1914

The Towers of the Kreml

Photo RWFG 1977

The ensemble of the Kreml seen from across the Moskva River.

Dormition or Assumption Cathedral

1475 - 1479 Uspensky Sobor

Photo Wikipedia

Built 1475–1479 by the Italian architect Aristotele Fioravanti

Frescoes in the Dormition Cathedral, 1642-1643.

Photo RWFG 1977

The icon of Our Lady of Vladimir (Elousa) was purpurtedly painted in the 5th cent in Jerusalem. It came from Constantinople to Kiev in 1122, from there to Valdimir in 1158. In 1395 the icon was taken to Mocow to protect the city against Timurleng's hordes. It was housed in the earlier Assumption Cathedral. Now in the Treyakov Gallery. Only the faces have never been overpainted.


The Dormition Icon of the Uspensky Cathedral, 1479, 179 × 164 cm, Tretyakov Gallery


The Last Judgment, Dormition Cathedral, Late 14th-early 15th centuries, Tretyakov Gallery

The Church of the Deposition of the Robe

1488 Rizopolozheniya Sobor

Photo RWFG 1977

Dwarfed behind the Cathedral of the Assumption, this tiny church became the personal chapel of the Moscow Metropolitans and Patriarchs. It was built in 1484-86 by Pskov craftsmen, on the site of the original Church of the Deposition of the Robe, which perished in the Kremlin fire of 1473. The church commemorates the official recognition of the Moscow Metropolitan as Metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia, acknowledged in 1451 by Casimir IV, King of Poland and Lithuania.

The church's name refers to the robe of the Virgin Mary, a prized relic which was held to have saved Constantinople from attackers on several occasions. Inside the church, there are a number of frescoes devoted to the governing theme of the church by the artists Ivan Borisov, Semion Abramov, and Sidor Pospeyev. The iconostasis, from 1627, is the work of the painter Nazary Istomin Savin.

Wall paintings in the church (1644)

The Annunciation Cathedral

1489 Blagoveshchenskiy Sobor

Photo RWFG 1977

The Cathedral was built by architects from Pskov in 1484-1489.

Andrei Rublyov, Nativity icon from the Feast Days of the Deesis of the Annunciation Cathedral, 1405

Andrei Rublyov, Kreshcheniye (Baptism) icon from the Feast Days of the Deesis, 1406

All icons are now in the Tretyakov Gallery.
Photos of icons RWFG 1977 and 1984

Link to the

The Deesis of the Rublyov Iconostasis of the Annunciation Cathedral

The Archangel Cathedral

1504 - 1508

Photo Wikipedia

Photo RWFG 1989

The Bell Tower

1505-1508, extended in height in 1600

Photo RWFG 1976

Domes of the Verkhospassky Churches


Photo RWFG 1989

Domes of the Verkhospassky Churches (Upper Churches of Christ) on top of the Terem Palaces (1635-1662) by Russian craftsmen

Photo RWFG 1977

In 1630-1640, the Verkhospasskiy Cathedral and a gallery were built over the Golden Chamber of Tsarina Irina Godunova's Terem Palace.

Entry Church of the 12 Apostles


Photo Sergey Duhanin, Panoramio

Entry Gate to the Cathedral Square in the Kreml

The Golden Roofs of the Annunciation Cathedral

15th cent

Photo RWFG 1989

Photo RWG 1989

The roofs of the Annunciation Cathedral in the last light of this fantastic evening in 1989

Gate of Our Savior in 1976

1485 - 1495 Spassky Gate

Photo RWFG 1976

The Gate of Our Savior

Grand Prince Ivan III organised the reconstruction of the Kremlin, inviting a number of skilled architects from Renaissance Italy, like Petrus Antonius Solarius, who designed the new Kremlin wall and its towers. - As long as they ruled the leaders of the USSR passed daily through this gate - others were forbidden to enter....

St. Basil's Cathedral

1555-1561, Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos

Photo RWFG 1976

The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos


The gaily painted interior of St. Basil's (1680–1683).

The Resurrection Gate

1680, 1996 Voskresensky Vorota

Photo Panoramio

The newly re-constructed Resurrection Gate and the Chapel of the of the Iberian Mother of God.

The Resurrection Gate the entry to the Red Square (also called or Gate of the Iberian Mother of God) is the only surviving gate of the Kitaigorod in Moscow. In 1931, the Resurrection Gate and the Iberian chapel - the small green building in front of the gate - were demolished in Soviet times in order to make room for heavy military vehicles driving through Red Square during military parades. Both structures were completely rebuilt in 1994-1996.


A lusterless new icon of the Iverian Theotokos was painted on Mount Athos by the monk Iamblichos to replace the lost original.
(Does she wear a band of patriotic medals on her right shoulder?)

The "Red" Square

Photo RWFG 1977

St. Basil's Cathedral reflected in a puddle very early one morning in 1977.

The name "Red Square", Krasnaya Ploshad, derives neither from the colour of the brick buildings surrounding it (which, in fact, were white-washed at certain points in history) nor from the link between the colour red and communism. Rather, the name came about because the Russian word krasnaya” can mean either "red" or "beautiful" (the latter being archaic). This name, with the meaning "beautiful", was originally applied to Saint Basil's Cathedral and was subsequently transferred to the square. It is believed that the square acquired its current name (replacing the older “Pozhar”, or "burnt-out place") in the 17th century.