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.

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