Following my explorations of the Moscow Red Square and Grand Kremlin, this next part of my journey brings me behind the Red fortification walls into the Inner Kremlin. Let’s check out the sights of the Moscow Inner Kremlin, the Royal Armory and Cathedrals today.
Entering the Kremlin
Most of the areas inside the Kremlin is publicity accessible, via require an admission fee. Visitors enter the compound from the South West gate, just about 100 meters from the Moscow Kremlin Museums Ticket Office.
Additionally, large bags and haversacks are not permitted in the galleries and armory. Hence, I recommend depositing your bags beforehand at the complimentary baggage service. You can find it under the Trinity bridge just across the Ticket office in the gardens. Bag deposits are free.
The Russian Kremlin is a notable formidable structure. The Kremlin wall itself is visible from all areas within the block. Also, you can’t miss the massive bricked red wall runs alongside the entire length of the Red square. Also, “Kremlin” means “Fortress inside a city” in Russian.
Moreover, the fortifications separate the Kremlin building from the former Royal Citadel and now the official residence of the President of Russia. Inside the fortress sits another parade square known as Cathedral square. Notably, the square is essentially a large cobble-stoned open space. Also known as the Kremlin courtyard, it is surrounded by five different cathedrals.
Additionally, for an additional 500 Russian rubles, you have access to the inner Kremlin cathedral square and the 5 cathedrals within.
Inner Kremlin Cathedrals
These five cathedrals were consecrated during the 14th century period. They sit within the Kremlin cathedral square are mostly styled in the typical Russian orthodox style. They mostly spot a rather distinctive white finish topped with gold onion domes.
You are free to enter any of the museums at any time. Notable areas of interest include the Cathedral of the Annunciation, Cathedral of the Archangel, The Dormition Cathedral, Tserkov’ Rizopolozheniya and Granovitaya Palatka. As highlighted, these are the five cathedrals which reside on the grounds in addition to two museums.
Cathedral interior and murals
Furthermore, the Annunciation Cathedral is one of the grandest of the lot. Consecrated in 1489, it features nicely painted interior Iconostasis and walls spanning the entire height of the cathedral itself.
Moreover, the cathedral interiors can be quite a sight. The murals fragments were first painted by Theodosius in 1508. Additional artwork were subsequently added bit by bit over the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries. Also, the mural involves various biblical themes, including heroic figures among other Russian princes and the grand dukes.
Moreover, the current Annunciation Cathedral was a rebuild of an older 14th-century cathedral bearing the similar name at the same spot. To illustrate this, you can find several archaeology windows showing the foundations of the old building here. Also, the Annunciation Cathedral is the only Cathedral directly connected to the main building of the Grand Kremlin Palace.
Moreover, the Cathedral of the Dormition also goes by another name as the Assumption Cathedral. It is a Russian Orthodox Church and is dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos. It is one of the larger and grander Cathedrals here too.
Additionally, the Dormition Cathedral is the largest of the lot. It is a six-pillared building comprising of five apses and five domes. Notably, it bares the same overall design philosophy of the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir. Its interior decoration is dominated by lines fresco painting as similarly seen in the Cathedral of the Annunciation. Also, the cathedral’s huge iconostasis dates back from 1547.
Despite the cathedrals being rather small in footprint, there is alot of detail put into the decorations. The painted walls were decorated with lit chandeliers hanging alongside the wall murals.
Furthermore, when I was there, four cathedrals them are in active service. You can explore them at your own time. Moreover, in addition to Russian guides, each cathedrals offers informative brochures which you can help yourself to. They are available in a variety of languages describing history of each.
Notably, the Ivan bell tower, one of the tallest buildings within the cathedral square was re-purposed into a general exhibition space to showcase Bvlgari assortment of diamond jewels.
The Royal Armoury
Moreover, an additional place of interest inside the Kremlin is the Royal Armory. It is a short walk from Cathedral square and is part of the inner Kremlin compound.
Additionally, you need another separate Amoury ticket to enter which you can purchase from the ticketing counter within, also costing 700 rubles per person. You enter the building into a sub-basement where you can obtain your complimentary audio guide. There are also complimentary cloak rooms. A gift shop resides here too.
You enter via a carpeted staircase into the galleries. The Royal Amoury is one of the attractions worth visiting within the Kremlin walls. Here, you see a collection of Royal related items.
The displays start with an assortment of Tapestry and robes. It transitions to display cases of full suits of medieval horse and rider Armour.
Display cases showcasing an assortment of swords and firearms of the era too.
Armour and wares
The collection includes a large collection of pewter, silver and iron ware. These include weapons such as swords and guns to delicately crafted clothing, gowns and tapestry.
Furthermore, a notable section is an impressive section housing a large collection of horse-drawn carriages. The carriages are all season, ranging from summer carriages to winter rides with sled skis mounted in place of wheels.
Here, the selection ranges from ceremonial rides to daily riders. Also, there are even tiny children carriages on display. Also, the carriage collection is one of the most extensive I had seen. This is despite the gallery being quietly tucked in a large room at the end of the building.
Senate square and State Kremlin palace
In addition to the Cathedral square is the Senate square. It also sits inside the fortifications. It sits on the northern side of the inner Kremlin, nearer to the Tsar Tower.
Also, it is a square of history and art, flanked by lush manicured gardens and a couple of Administrative buildings, as well as the State Kremlim palace. It is a modern looking building with long front white pillars.
Moreover, on the East of the inner Krelim is the Ivanovskaya Square. It sits on an open cobblestone lined open ground and surrounded by nice flower garden. The history has it that it is the site of Moscow’s first postal address. This is to serve court services and chanceries of various departments situated here.
Notably, there is nothing really much to see here with the exception of roaming around exploring the outer facades of several administrative buildings which is non-public accessible.
Tsar Pushka Cannon and Bell
Back out in the Kremlin, in addition to the Armory and cathedrals are a couple of interesting items on display worth mentioning. The Tsar bell and cannon are one of the few notable outdoor display items of interest which you can find when roaming the inner Kremlin.
Additionally, the artillery piece cast in bronze in 1586 by the Russian master bronze caster Andrey Chokhov in Moscow.
Moreover, the Canon is unlike a conventional Canon with rather large frontal opening. If the size of the artillery canon is not impressive enough, the Tsar’s-Pushka Cannon is also the world’s largest bombard cannon by caliber alone.
Paired with the canon is and accompanying set of equally huge cannon balls laid beside the cannon. They look like oversized bowling balls and give you a good reference of size.
Notably, the existence of the Tsar Canon had been mostly symbolic to date. As a matter of fact, it was never used in a war. It however, provides plenty of good photo opportunities for visiting tourists today.
In addition to the Canon is the Tsar Bell. It was commissioned by Empress Anna for the Ivan great bell tower back in 1733. It is a work of art. However, the bronze bell was damaged in a fire upon completion. Henceforth till today, it has never been used or rung.
Since then, it now sits facing the Ivanovskaya Square beside the Tsar Cannon by the Ivan great bell tower out of the tower and on the ground as a display within the Kremlin grounds here. Interestingly, placed beside the bell is a broken shad of the bell, completing it.
Notably, weighing 201 tons, the Tzar bell is the largest bell in the world. Moreover, you can see an assortment of cast murals detailed on the surface of the bell. It features angles and plants and Empress Anna and Tsar Alexey imprinted along its face.
Also, I found both the cannon and bell great works of art itself. They are intricately which can serve very well as standalone masterpieces themselves. However, some might think otherwise, including a French writer and philosopher Voltaire. Moreover, he humorously joked about the Kremlin’s two greatest items being a bell which never rung, and a cannon which never fired.
Kremlin watch towers
Furthermore, when you are done for the day in the inner Kremlin, you exit out of the fortification compound through one of the many tower exits. There is one on each side of the square.
If you plan to head to the nearest metro, you can leave by the west exit toward the west-side Troitskaya Tower. It brings you over the Trinity bridge towards Aleksandrovsky Sad metro station.
Alternatively, another grand exit is the Spasskaya Bashnya Tower. The tower sits on the north-eastern side of the inner Kremlin. Its intricately decorated tower spire is topped with a Red Star. It is easily recognizable from anywhere in the square.
Moreover, these are tall watch-tower like structures which sits along the corners of the fortifications. Also, notably, the Spasskaya Bashnya Tower also has a clock tower which chimes every hour. It exits you out right into the Red Square.
All in all, you will be good here in the Russian Kremlin for about half a day. You need about an hour or two exploring cathedral square, the cathedrals and two hours in the Armory. The inner sights of the Moscow Grand Kremlin is definitely an experience with Russian culture definitely worth a visit. Next up, I shall touch on the city as a whole, the Moskva River (South Bank) and the Christ the Saviour Cathedral.