Capital of the Federation of Russia.
Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow
Defense, religion, and politics.
Location and site
In the heart of Moscow, the Kremlin, 28 ha. in area, occupies the summit of the Borovitsky Hill. At the foot of its eastern wall is Red Square, a site of 7 ha. The Moskva River passes through the city along the south side of the Kremlin wall and south of Red Square.
The triangular enclosure of the Kremlin, which is 2.2 km. in length, is reinforced by 19 towers, each different, that date to between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 17th century. The plan of the city expresses its continuity: from the beginning, routes radiated outwards from the hill of the Kremlin across the country, and the radial plan of the modern city was laid out and developed so that its streets originated from this same centre.
At the end of the 15th century, the Kremlin had the general appearance that it maintains to this day. Italian and Russian architects worked together on the realisation of its first nucleus, Cathedral Square, leading to a successful blend of Italian Renaissance and Russian traditions. Immense buildings are integrated into the 18th-19th centuries ensemble. The famous Cathedral of Saint Basil facing Red Square is one of the great monuments of Orthodox art.
The Kremlin contains within its walls a series of unique masterpieces of architecture and plastic arts. (I) On many occasions, the Kremlin has generated decisive influences that were instrumental to the evolution of Russian architecture; this is particularly true of the Lombardian Renaissance. (II) By its spatial organisation, its monuments and its collections, the Kremlin offers a unique testimony of the Russian civilisation at the time of the tsars. (III) With its triangular enclosure, the Kremlin conserves the memory of the wooden palissade that was established around 1156 on the hill. By its location and its evolution, it represents the successful type of kremln. (IV) From the 13th century until the creation of Saint Petersburg and during the 20th century, the Kremlin was directly and materially associated with all of the major events in Russian history. (V)
- An earlier Kremln (fortress), constructed of wood, was erected in the 12th century. At the intersection of the river routes, a small market town developed out of this nucleus.
- Russian principalities fell under the yoke of the Golden Hord and Moscow became the victim of a Mongol invasion in 1238. The Kremlin was severely damaged and was reconstructed immediately.
- Under the rule of Ivan Kalita, the Great Principality of Moscow was established at the beginning of the 14th century. The Kremlin became the residence of the princes and a religous centre. Its wooden palissade was replaced by a stone wall at the end of the 14th century, and a brick wall replaced the stone wall at the end of the 15th century.
- Ivan III put an end to three centuries of Mongol rule in 1480 and undertook the unification of the Russian State. The Kremlin monuments reflected the new political-religious unity.
- Originally a market in the 15th century, Red Square became the main square of the capital. Under the rule of Ivan IV, the Terrible (1547-1584), the unity of the State was consolidated. In 1555, he constructed the Cathedral of Saint Basil on Red Square as a symbol of the Russian victories over the Kazar.
- In the 16-17th centuries, the Kremlin was the residence of the tsars. After the transfer of political power to Saint Petersburg in 1703, it remained a religious centre. When Moscow regained its status as capital in 1918, it served as the seat of government once again.