all headings The evolution of the Kremlin

The architecture of the Moscow Kremlin evokes in us today a sense of monumentality – it seems that it was always and always looked like that – However, relatively recently the Kremlin complex has changed drastically. About the motley and changeable history of the Kremlin it is quite possible to write a novel, and the fortress will become its main character.

People in ancient times populated the modern Kremlin territory. Despite the dense construction, archaeologists managed to find in the Kremlin the remains of the settlements of the Bronze and Iron Ages. In the 10th century AD, Vyatichi began to move here, establishing a settlement in the territory of the future Kremlin with two fortified centres, which, judging by archaeological finds, performed some kind of political and administrative function within the Old Russian state. Along the Neglinnaya and Moscow rivers, the surrounding posad was surrounded.

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MOSCOW FELL AND WAS DESTROYED ALONG WITH THE SURROUNDING MONASTERIES, CHURCHES AND VILLAGES

Wooden Kremlin, 12th-13th century
Wooden Kremlin, 12th-13th centuries

The city began to develop actively – this was facilitated by the fact that the roads leading to Kiev and Novgorod and water trade routes crossed in the Kremlin area. In 1147, the city of Moscow was first mentioned, and in the middle of the 12th century, a whole complex of fortifications appeared on the territory of the modern Kremlin. The fortress was surrounded by a moat five meters deep, a shaft up to seven meters high and a wooden wall. These fortifications did not save the city during the invasion of the Mongols – Moscow fell and was destroyed along with the surrounding monasteries, churches and villages.

Since 1264, the restored city became the residence of the Moscow princes. In 1293, Moscow captured the Horde prince Tudan, but the existence of the city was no longer interrupted. The construction of Moscow oak fortifications by Ivan Kalita in the first half of the fourteenth century can already be considered the beginning of the existence of the Kremlin in some known boundaries. At the same time, five monasteries were erected on the territory of the Kremlin. The centre of the oldest of them, the Savior-Transfiguration, was one of the oldest at that time Moscow churches – the Savior on the Bor (unfortunately demolished in the 20th century).
During the great prince Dmitry Donskoi, the cardinal changes took place in the life of the Kremlin – the wooden walls of the fortress in the most dangerous areas were replaced by white stone ones. Also, the Kremlin had stone towers.

The Kremlin in the days of Prince Dmitry Donskoy, 14th century
The Kremlin in the days of Prince Dmitry Donskoy, 14th century

This allowed Moscow to repel Olgerd’s attacks twice, and in 1382 Tokhtamysh was able to take the Kremlin only thanks to treason from the Ryazan nobility and a deception, shameful even by the standards of a difficult 14th century – promising the Muscovites peace.

After the invasion of Tokhtamysh, the Kremlin was quickly restored. From wooden construction in the fortress began to gradually give up – the new building in the Kremlin became mostly stone. In the 15th century, its territory was massively built up by churches. Not too long-lasting white stone fortifications at this time had to be regularly repaired.

But the Kremlin, well-known to all of us, was built only in the second half of the 15th – beginning of the 16th century, under Ivan III, specially invited by craftsmen from Italy and various Russian cities. At that time, the Uspensky Cathedral, Rizopolozhenskaya Church, the Annunciation Cathedral, the new building of the Grand Ducal Palace, the Cathedral of the Chudov Monastery, the Church of St. John Climacus and other structures were erected. The old white stone walls of the Kremlin were dismantled, new ones were erected instead of them, of high-quality red brick. It was then that he received modern outlines and the plan of the central Moscow fortress.

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VISITING IN THE 16TH-17TH CENTURIES, FOREIGNERS FROM MOSCOW NOTED THE BEAUTY KREMLIN BUILDINGS

Under Ivan III the Kremlin developed so actively that for a long time in the royal residence there was practically no need to engage in capital construction work. It was necessary mainly to carry out the reconstruction and attach something to the existing architectural complexes. The new stage of active construction of the Kremlin began in the 17th century when a number of new secular buildings appeared on its territory. Visiting in the 16th-17th centuries, foreigners from Moscow noted the beauty of Kremlin buildings.

Red Square, 16th century
Red Square, 16th century

Peter I treated Moscow as a whole is cool. Under him, the capital was moved to St. Petersburg, and the Kremlin, respectively, lost the status of the royal residence. However, from a practical point of view, the emperor did a lot for the development of the fortress: he officially finally banned the construction of wooden structures on its territory, began building an arsenal, and when a Swedish threat arose, surrounded the Kremlin with bastions and filled the water with trenches. At his daughter Elizabeth in the Kremlin, instead of the Golden, Return and Dining rooms, the Winter Palace was built according to the Rastrelli project, and the gallery of the Armory Chamber appeared on the site of the Grand Treasury. The general view of the Kremlin, Elizabeth did not want to change – she ordered its walls to be repaired or, in case of impossibility, rebuilt in the old form.

In the second half of the 18th century, a radical reconstruction of the Kremlin was planned by the court architect Vasily Bazhenov. He was going to rebuild the fortress in the style of classicism and managed to even dismantle part of the walls and towers. However, Catherine II from the idea of reconstruction in the end refused. Everything demolished Bazhenov was returned to the place. The first building in the style of classicism, the Senate, was built in the Kremlin by Bazhenov’s pupil – Matvey Kazakov. He also built several small structures with Gothic elements in the fortress.

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IN KREMLIN, RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES WERE PUSHED BY NAPOLEON

A new stage in the reconstruction of the Kremlin took place at the beginning of the 19th century. The Poteshny Palace was rebuilt. The coat of arms, the Sretensky Cathedral and some other buildings went under demolition. However, to the even more ambitious work in the Kremlin, the Russian authorities pushed Napoleon. Leaving Moscow, the French emperor ordered to mine and blow up the fortress. Although not all French mines exploded, the Kremlin suffered enormous damage. With the aftermath of the French invasion, Russian architects and builders had to figure out another twenty years.

From 1839 to 1849 on the initiative of Emperor Nicholas I and the project of Konstantin Ton the Great Kremlin Palace was built. At the same time, the old palace structures and the Church of St. John the Forerunner at Bor were dismantled. Toned was the new Armory Chamber. As we see, from the shoulder in the Kremlin it was cut not only in the 20th century. In 1898 in the Kremlin there was a monument to Emperor Alexander II, and in 1908 – Prince Sergei Alexandrovich. With the last Romanovs, no significant architectural projects were implemented in the Kremlin.

Moscow Kremlin, 19th century
Moscow Kremlin, 19th century

In the fall of 1917, the Kremlin became a stronghold of the junkers and suffered greatly during their battles with parts of the Bolsheviks. With the victory of the October Revolution, the status of the capital of Russia was returned to Moscow, and the Kremlin again became a government residence. The new authorities restored the walls and towers of the fortress, but demolished monuments to monarchs and their relatives, and then dismantled a number of Kremlin temples. Partially the churches of the Kremlin were converted into clubs, gyms and hospitals. In total, under Soviet power, seventeen Kremlin temples of thirty-one were destroyed. Some secular buildings underwent serious reconstruction. In 1935 two-headed eagles were removed from the Kremlin towers. They were first replaced with gilded stars, and in 1937 – stars of ruby glass.

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ABOUT 150 BOMBS FELL ON THE TERRITORY OF THE RESIDENCE OF THE SOVIET LEADERSHIP DURING THE WHOLE WAR

In the 1920s, many of the Kremlin’s premises were used by its employees as residential. Over 2,000 people were registered here. Gradually, the “residents” began to resettle: by 1939 there were only thirty-one of them, including Joseph Stalin himself, and since 1962 it was forbidden to live permanently in the Kremlin.

In order to preserve the Kremlin during the Great Patriotic War, it was carefully disguised: partially repainted, cloth covered with cloths imitating roads, disconnected illuminations. As a result of the measures taken, only about 150 bombs fell on the territory of the residence of the Soviet leadership during the whole war, which did not cause serious damage to it.
The last large building, built in the Kremlin, was the Palace of Congresses, erected in 1961. After that, only restoration and reconstruction work was carried out here. In 1990, the Kremlin was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Today it is the largest preserved fortress in Europe. Now the historical fortress has become the residence of the President of Russia. Scientists and architects are considering the possibility of restoring a number of previously demolished monuments in the Kremlin.

Evening Kremlin, 2017
Evening Kremlin, 2017

In the Kremlin, you can feel the rich style diversity of Russian architecture. Here there are buildings representing the most diverse trends in art: Moscow Baroque, Russian pseudo-Gothic, classicism and many others.

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Tours in which you can visit the Moscow Kremlin:

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