The Moscow Kremlin is a fortified complex in the center of Moscow and is regarded as the heart of the nation of Russia. It is right next to Red Square and is made up of five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with its Kremlin towers. Also within it is the Grand Kremlin Palace that was once the Tsar's Moscow residence.

The Kremlin and the adjacent Red Square and St. Basil's Cathedral are musts for anyone visiting Moscow and Russia. Visiting these attractions is central to any perfect weekend itinerary in Moscow. If visiting Russia, plan on visiting both Moscow and St. Petersberg, both are stunningly beautiful cities in their own right.

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History Of The Kremlin And Significance

Kremlins are old Russian fortresses inside cities and so there are many of them in Russia. The Moscow Kremlin is by far the most famous and so is often just referred to as "The Kremlin".

The Kremlin complex dates to 1156 but the site was occupied for much longer. The first white-stone walls and towers were built in 1367-68 and the Kremlin came more or less into its modern form around a century later. The bringing of the Kremlin has been there for far longer than Russia was as a unified country. Russia grew out of the Grand Duchy of Moscow that was founded in 1263.

When Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812 and occupied the Kremlin he ordered it to be blown up. The French greatly damaged the Kremlin but rain damaged the fuses and the damage was less severe than intended. It was restored after the war.

The Grand Kremlin Palace now serves as the official residence of the Russian President and it is a museum.

This is the site of Russia's famous Victory Day Parades where Russia attempts to display its superpower status. Even those who have never been to Russia will recognize the opulent and colorful domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, the Red Square, and the ramparts of the Kremlin that the Red Square runs up against.

  • Adjacent: The Kremlin Is Next To Basil's Cathedral and Red Square

Located on the Red Square by the Kremlin is Lenin's Mausoleum. It is the resting place for the Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin (for a brief time it was also the resting place of Joseph Stalin). Lenin's preserved body has been on public display since shortly after he died in 1924.

Attractions at the Kremlin to visit include the Armoury Chamber, Ivan the Great Bell Tower complex, exhibition halls in the Assumption Belfry and Patriarch's Palace, as well as several churches and cathedrals.

Cathedrals And Churches:

  • Cathedral of the Dormition
  • Cathedral of the Annunciation
  • Cathedral of the Archangel Michael
  • Church of The Twelve Apostles
  • Church of the Deposition of the Virgin's Robe

Related: 10 Things Every American Should Know Before Planning A Trip To Russia

Visiting The Kremlin

Today the Kremlin is open to the public and one can tour through it. There is plenty to see and do here - not only inside the Kremlin Complex but also just outside of it. According to Moscow Kremlin Museum's official website, the opening hours of the Moscow Kremlin Museums and the Armour Chamber are:

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Moscow Kremlin Museums: 

  • Summer Season: 15 May to 30 September, 9:30 am to 6 pm
  • Winter Season: 1 October to 14 May, 10 am to 5.00 pm
  • Closed: Thursdays

Armoury Chamber:

  • Open: 10 am to 6 pm
  • Closed: Thursdays

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The Armoury Chamber

One of the main attractions at the Kremlin is the Armoury Chamber. It is part of the Grand Kremlin Palace's complex and is in a building built in 1851. It originated as the royal arsenal in 1508. It is a treasure house with collections of the tsar's treasury and the Patriarch's vestry. The museum hosts ancient State regalia, ceremonial royal garments, and coronation dresses, vestments of the Russian Orthodox Church, ceremonial arms and armor, ceremonial horse harnesses, and more.

  • Items: Over 4,000 Items

The Armoury Chamber is not to be confused with the Kremlin Arsenal. The Kremlin Arsenal is a former armory and unlike the Armoury Chamber (or Kremlin Armoury) it remains in military use and so is off-limits to tourists. It is the home of the Kremlin Regiment that is the main security for the Russian President.

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Guided Tours Of The Moscow Kremlin Museums

The museum offers guided tours in Russian "and with a translator of yours" - presumably that means to bring one's own translator. Guided tours are always one of the best ways to discover and bring to life places. These tours delve into the architecture, paintings, collections, and history of the complex.

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Guided Tour Of Armoury Chamber:

  • Duration: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Adult 1,000 Rubles ($13.50), Child Under 16 - 500 Rubles ($7)
  • Tour Group: 4,000

Guided Tour of Kremlin And One Cathedral:

  • Duration: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Adult 700 Rubles ($9.50), Child Under 16 - 500 Rubles ($7)

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