A visit to the Russian capital Moscow would not be complete without a visit to the Kremlin and Red Square. Lying in the heart of the city on the banks of River Moskva these two well known landmarks of this historic city have been witness to most of the major events of Russian history and are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The history of Kremlin, which means fortress, and is referred to in the same way as White House or 10 Downing Street dates back to 1147 when the city was founded by the Yuri Dolguruky. Since then it continues to be a symbol of the Russian statehood with palaces of the Tsars and the Russian Orthodox Churches being located here. The white stoned walls and towers of the Kremlin were built between 1367-68 before being rebuilt towards the end of 15th century. Though the capital of Russia was transferred to St. Petersburg in early eighteenth century the coronation continued to take place here before regaining it’s true power again after the 1917 Revolution.
The history of Red Square started as a slum housing criminals, drunks, peddlers outside the Kremlin before the area was cleared on the orders of Ivan III at the end of the 15th century. Surprisingly the word ‘Red’ has nothing to do with colour of communism but comes from the word Kranyi which many years ago meant ‘beautiful’ though now it does refer to the colour red. The square was also called the Fire Square, a reference to the number of times Moscow burned in medieval times. The Red Square became known internationally during the 20th century when it was used as the site of impressive military parades designed to show the might of Soviet Union.
The Kremlin and Red Square is home to beautiful architecture and grand buildings including the six pillared building of the Dormition Cathedral (the site of coronation of the Tsars), the Cathedral of Archangel Michael and the imposing Ivan the Great Bell Tower which is believed to be the exact centre of the city and looks like a burning candle. The world’s largest bell, the Tsar Bell is located near the tower. The Kremlin Armoury is the oldest museum in Moscow and houses weapons of different eras and also a collection of Faberge Eggs. One silver egg is engraved with a map of the Trans-Siberian Railway and has a golden clockwork model of train fitted with platinum engine, crystal windows and tiny ruby headlights.
As you move around the Red Square you can go and pay your respects to one of the Soviet Union’s great leaders, Vladimir Lenin whose embalmed body lies in state at the stately Lenin’s Mausoleum. The highlight of Red Aquare is the stupendous domes and architecture of Saint Basil’s cathedral which has rightly been described as the climax of Russia’s vernacular wooden architecture.
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