March 7, 2007

The Moscow Kremlin (Russian: Московский Кремль) is an historic fortified complex at the very heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River (to the south), Saint Basil's Cathedral (often mistaken as the Kremlin) and Red Square (to the east) and the Alexander Garden (to the west). It is the best known of kremlins (Russian citadels) and includes four palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. The complex serves as the official residence of the President of Russia.
By 1475, the principalities of medieval Russia were united under Grand Prince Ivan III, who assumed the title of the Grand Prince of All Rus, envisioning Moscow as the only legitimate successor to Rome and Constantinople. In order to illustrate his imperial ambitions, Ivan organised the reconstruction of the Kremlin, inviting a number of skilled architects from Renaissance Italy, like Pietro Antonio Solari and Marco Ruffo. It was during his reign that three extant cathedrals of the Kremlin, the Deposition Church, and the Palace of Facets were constructed. The highest building of the city and Muscovite Russia was the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, built in 1505-08 and augmented to its present height in 1600.
After construction of the new Kremlin walls and churches was over in 1516, the monarch decreed that no structures should be built in the immediate vicinity of the citadel. Furthermore, the Kremlin was separated from the walled merchant town (Kitai-gorod) by a 30-metre-wide moat, over which the Intercession Cathedral on the Moat was constructed during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. The same tsar also renovated some of his grandfather's palaces, added a new palace and cathedral for his sons, and endowed the Trinity metochion inside the Kremlin. The metochion was administrated by the Trinity Monastery and boasted the graceful tower church of St. Sergius, which was described by foreigners as one of the finest in the country.
During the Time of Troubles, the Kremlin was held by the Polish-Lithuanian forces for two years, between 21 September 1610 and 26 October 1612. The Kremlin's liberation by the volunteer army of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky paved the way for the election of Mikhail Romanov as the new tsar. During his reign and that of his son Alexis, the eleven-domed Upper Saviour Cathedral, Armorial Gate, Terem Palace, Amusement Palace and the palace of Patriarch Nikon were built. Following the death of Alexis, the Kremlin witnessed the Moscow Uprising of 1682, from which tsar Peter barely escaped alive. This emotional trauma made him dislike the Kremlin. Three decades later, Peter abandoned the residence of his forefathers for his new capital, Saint Petersburg.


The tower is open 9:30 AM to Midnight daily during the summer, 10Am - 11PM Winter. Admission: Elevator to first floor, 17 fr.; ages 4-11, 8 fr. to second floor; 34 fr., 4-11, 16 fr. to third floor 51 fr, ages 4-11, 23 fr. under 4 free to all levels. I seem to recall that the fare was 60 fr. to the top a few months ago, so there may have been an adjustment over the past three years. I have not looked into group fares, but I suspect that the discount would not be substantial, if any. The Eiffel Tower is about the only tourist site in Paris that does not participate in the Museum Card, which allows admission to about 90 sites for a fixed discount price. Levels 1 and 2 include the Jules Verne restaurant as well as other shops. The 3rd level includes the best view, of course, and a display of Paris and Eiffel memorabilia.The French Franc has been worth about $.15 for the last few years.
TOWER BASICSYears Built: 1887-1889 for 1889 Universal Exhibition and Centennial
of the French Revolution
Engineers : Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier
Architect : Stephen Sauvestre
Contractor : Gustave Eiffel
Occasion for Construction: 1889 Universal Exhibition
Construction Period: 23 January 1887 to March 1889 (2years,2months,5days)
Tower inaugurated: March 31, 1889
Number of Steel Workers: 300
Number of Workers Killed during Construction: 1
Rivets: 2,500,000
Steel pieces: 18,038
Height: 300.51 meters (986 feet) (+/- 15 cm depending on temperature)
1st level - 57 meters
2nd level - 115 meters
3rd level - 276 meters
Height including television antenna: 320.755 meters (1052 feet)
Weight: 7,000 tons (1,000 tons removed during 1990's renovation)
Base: 412 feet square, although also noted as about 2.5 acres
Foundation Pressure: 58.26 to 64 psi (9000 psf)
Paint: 50 tons every 7 years
Paint Color: Dark Brown
Steps to Top: 1789 (Birnbaum), 1671 (Joseph Harriss), 1652 (others),
1665 (Official Eiffel Tower Website)
Steps walkable by visitors (Ground to 2nd floor): 704
Year lighting added contributing to Paris' reputation as "City of Lights": 1986
Lighting : 352 projectors of 1000 watts
Day German flag was hoisted on the Eiffel Tower as German army entered
and occupied Paris: June 14, 1940
Number of Visitors, 1987: 4,000,000
Number of visitors, 1996 : 5,530,279
Numbers of visitors from the beginning to 1996: 167,664,439
First Radio Transmission: 1918
First TV transmission: 1957
Maximum sway in wind: 12 cm
Tallest Structure in the World: 1889-1930 (until Chrysler Building)
2nd Tallest Structure in the World: 1930-1932 (Until Empire State Bldg)
Parachute Descent: 1984 by two Englishmen
Bicycle Descent: 1923 Journalist
Mountaneering Ascent: 1954
Visibility on a clear day: 67 kilometers (42 miles)