The name Kremlin means “fortress”. The Kremlin is the oldest part of Moscow which served as a fortified inner town in olden times. The first written mention of the Kremlin dates back to 1147.
The existing Kremlin walls and towers were built by Italian masters over the years 1485 to 1495.
For centuries it has been the center of the Russian statehood. It has also been the residence of the Russian Tsars and Patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Although Peter the Great moved the Russian capital to St. Petersburg in 1712, the tradition to coronate Russian Emperors at the Kremlin remained unchanged. In 1918 the Soviet government moved the Russian capital back to Moscow and the Kremlin was closed to the public. It was not until 1955 that the Kremlin museums were reopened to the public again.
The Kremlin Armoury is a treasure-house, its collection includes many royal treasures such as crowns, thrones, Fabergé eggs, gold and silverware, ceremonial weapons and arms, carriages, horse ceremonial harness and clothes.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Armoury collection was enriched with treasures taken from the Patriarch sacristy, Kremlin cathedrals, monasteries and private collections.
The Cathedral Square is the central square of the Kremlin where all of its streets used to converge in the 15th century. It is surrounded by three cathedrals, Cathedral of the Dormition, Cathedral of the Archangel, and Cathedral of the Annunciation.
The tallest structure on the Cathedral Square, Ivan the Great Bell Tower, is the oldest bell tower in Moscow dating from the 1340s. Until the Russian Revolution it was the highest building in Moscow.
The Tsar Bell is the largest bell in the world weighting 201 tons, with a height of 6.14 meters. While still in its casting in 1737, a great fire took place in the Kremlin. The bell, overheated from falling burning logs, was sprayed with water to prevent its melting. That was a mistake: the bell gave a few cracks, and a large piece (11.5 tons) broke away. In 1836, the Tsar Bell was installed on a stone pedestal in the Kremlin, close to the bell tower of Ivan the Great, where it was supposed to be hang.
For more information about the Kremlin go to http://kreml.ru/en/. You can check out the Kremlin’s map and take a virtual tour.