The Moscow Kremlin is the heart of Russia, because our capital began its journey from here. The architectural ensemble of bright walls and tall slender towers gives it a special romance and unfading antiquity.
From the history of the Kremlin
At one time, the construction of the Kremlin was started by Prince Ivan the Third. The Kremlin walls and towers, made before his reign from white stone – limestone, the prince ordered to be replaced with more durable ones of burnt bricks. Many of them have remained unchanged to this day.
For the grandiose construction, the Moscow sovereign invited European architects – Italians. One of them, Antonio Fiorovanti, became the author of the general plan for the Kremlin’s defenses.
Since then, only one large-scale construction work has been required here. This happened after the devastating French invasion of 1812. While retreating, leaving the city, they mined the Kremlin. The enemy’s charges worked only partially, but it took 20 years to restore the destruction.
The appearance of the Kremlin, which is contemplated by residents and guests of Moscow, the buildings owe to the competent actions of the architect Bove O.I.
Today the Moscow Kremlin is decorated with 20 towers. They are all different, no two are alike. Each of the towers has its own name and its own history. Only two names were missing, they are called that: First Nameless and Second Nameless.
From the history of the towers
The difference in the size of the towers depended on their role in defending the city. Each had its own exit to the adjacent walls. This allowed the sentinels to walk around all the walls of the Kremlin without descending to the ground. The riflemen, hiding on the upper platforms of the buildings, were protected by merlons – ledges that completed the fortress wall.
The first in the general ensemble was the Taynitskaya Tower .
It got its name because of an underground secret passage that connected it to the river.
In case of a prolonged siege of the fortress by enemies, a secret passage to the river served to deliver water. The tower stretches 39 meters high.
The rightmost tower has two names at once. Nowadays it is called Moskvoretskaya . Beklemishevskaya was once called by the name of the person next to whose yard she was laid.
Enemies most often attacked from the side of the Moskva River, and the Moskvoretskaya Tower always had to be the first to defend itself. That is why she is so formidable, with a lot of loopholes. Its height is 46.2 meters.
The Vodovzvodnaya Tower is named so because of the machine that was once installed inside. She raised water from the well, arranged below, to the very top into a large tank. From there, water flowed through lead pipes to the royal palace in the Kremlin. The plumbing has been in operation for a long time. Then the car was taken to St. Petersburg for fountains. The height of the tower with a star is 61.4 m.
Borovitskaya Tower stands at the foot of the Borovitsky Hill, once covered with a pine forest . This is a gate tower, named from the proximity of the forest to it. It has a through passage to the territory of the Kremlin. Another name for it is the Forerunner. Today it is used for the main passage of the official motorcade. Height 54 m, its top is decorated with a ruby star.
The Armory Tower was built in the 15th century and is 39 meters high. It is a quadrangle tapering upwards with a square tiered roof. The Armory was built behind this tower in the Kremlin. It contains many Kremlin treasures – weapons, precious dishes, helmets, chain mail of ancient Russian warriors. This chamber gave its name.
Walking along the walls of the Kremlin, you can see the Trinity Bridge, which was thrown across the Neglinnaya River many centuries ago. This bridge leads to the gates of one of the highest Kremlin towers – Troitskaya .
It got its name from the church located near the Kremlin. Until 1935, an imperial double-headed eagle was installed at the summit. For the next anniversary of the revolution, the eagle was removed and red stars were installed on it and the rest of the main Kremlin towers. The height of the tower with the star is 80 meters.
The bridge connects the Troitskaya tower with another – low and wide. This is the Kutafya Tower. In the old days, this was the name of a fat, awkwardly dressed woman. A more ornate tower was made only in the 17th century.
Prior to this, Kutafya was very austere with drawbridges at the side gates and hinged loopholes. She guarded the entrance to the Troitsky Bridge. The Kutafya Tower is the lowest in the Kremlin. Its height is 13.5 meters.
Konstantino-Eleninskaya tower. It was built in 1490 and was used for the passage of the population and troops to the Kremlin. It owes its name to the church of Constantine and Helena that stood here in antiquity. It was built because the Kremlin had no natural barriers on its side. The structure was equipped with a drawbridge, a powerful arrow and a passage gate. At the beginning of the 19th century, they were taken apart. Height 36.8 meters.
The Spasskaya Tower was built in 1491 to protect the northeastern part of the Kremlin, which had no natural water barriers. Its name comes from the 17th century, when the icon of the Savior was hung over the gate. The travel gate was considered holy. They were not passed through on horseback and did not pass with their heads covered. The regiments marched through the gates, and here they met kings and ambassadors.
In the 17th century, the coat of arms of Russia, a two-headed eagle, was placed on the top. In 1852, the clock was installed, which we still see today.
The Kremlin chimes are a large clock with a musical mechanism. Eleven bells produce a melodic chime every 15 minutes. The mechanism of the Kremlin chimes occupies three floors. Previously, it was started manually, now – with the help of electricity. The height of the tower with the star is 71 meters.
At first, the Senate Tower did not have a name and received it only after the construction of the Senate building, whose green dome rises above the fortress wall.
The tower rises behind the mausoleum of V.I. Lenin. She is the oldest in the Kremlin. Built in 1491 in the center of the northeastern part of the Kremlin wall, it performed only defensive functions. The tower reliably defended the Kremlin from the side of Red Square. Its height is 34.3 meters.
The Nikolskaya Tower is located at the very beginning of Red Square . The name comes from the Nikolsky monastery located nearby. An icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker was placed over the gate. The drawbridge over the moat and protective gratings made it inaccessible to the enemy.
Through its gates in 1612, troops of the people’s militia entered under the leadership of Minin and Pozharsky. They liberated Moscow from the Polish-Lithuanian invaders.
The tower, which suffered from Napoleon’s troops and revolutionary artillery fire in 1917, was restored several times. Since 1935, its dome has been crowned with a five-pointed ruby star.
The Commandant’s Tower got its name in the 19th century, since the Commandant of Moscow was located nearby in the building. Located on the western side of the Kremlin wall between the Troitskaya and the Armory towers. It is an elongated quadruple with a base expanding to the bottom and hinged loopholes. It has a height of 41.2 meters.
There is another tower at the turn of the Kremlin wall. From a distance, it looks round. Up close, you understand that this is not so, because it has 16 faces. This is the corner Arsenal tower .
Once she was called Sobakina, by the name of a person who lived nearby. But in the 18th century, the Arsenal building (military warehouse) was erected nearby, and the tower was renamed. There is a well in her dungeon, which is more than 500 years old. It always has fresh and clean water. Earlier there was an underground passage from the Arsenal Tower to the Neglinnaya River. Height 60.2 m.
The alarm tower was built for observation and patrol. In the event of an approaching danger, everyone was warned from her about this, striking the alarm bell. Hence the name.
At the end of the 18th century, at the sound of the alarm bell, a riot began in Moscow. For divulging an unkind message, the bell was punished by deprivation of the tongue. He remained idle for a long time, and then was removed to the museum. Height 38 m.
To the right of the Nabatnaya Tower is the Tsar’s Tower. With her appearance, she stands out from the general ensemble because she is not at all like the others. There are four columns directly on the wall, and on them a peaked roof. There are no powerful walls or narrow loopholes, because it was not built for defense at all.
According to legend, Tsar Ivan the Terrible loved to watch what was happening on Red Square from this place. Later, the smallest turret was erected here and was named the Tsar’s. Height 16.7 meters.
The middle Arsenalnaya tower was built on the site of the Donskoy wooden tower. She guarded the dams on Neglinnaya, kept a secret grotto inside. It is closely adjacent to the Arsenal building, so it is not difficult to guess the name. It used to be called Granena because of the architectural features of the facade. It is an elongated quadruple with a stepped superstructure. Height 38.9 meters.
There was a powder store in the First Nameless Tower. This explains the fact that it was destroyed more often than others. It was completely destroyed under Napoleon, then rebuilt.
Height 34.1 meters.
The second Nameless Tower is located in the Kremlin wall opposite the Moskva River. It has a square section. There used to be an entrance gate. After the construction of the Kremlin Palace, it was dismantled and rebuilt. Height 30.2 meters.
The Petrovskaya tower, together with two Nameless ones, was built to strengthen the southern wall, which was most often attacked. She received her name from the church of Metropolitan Peter. The building was rebuilt 3 times, the Kremlin gardeners used it for their needs. Height 37.1 meters.
In the Annunciation Tower, according to legend, the miraculous icon “Annunciation” was previously kept. In 1731, the Church of the Annunciation was added. Later, for the passage of laundresses to the Moskva River, a gate called Portomoyny was made. In Soviet times, the gates were bricked up, and the church was dismantled. The height of the tower with a weather vane is 32.5 meters.
- The length of the Kremlin wall is 2335 meters, the height is 8-19 meters, and its thickness is 3.5-6.5 meters.
- The names of the towers reflect their history and the history of the location.
- The towers have details typical of the Italian architecture of the time. This is not surprising, because they were built by Italian architects.
- The fortress with 20 towers, connected by walls, has a triangular shape.
- Three corner rounds for conducting circular fire, the rest are square, very different from one another.
- Today’s buildings were built mainly in 1485-1495 on the site of dilapidated white-stone walls, erected in 1366.