Russia’s capital, Moscow, is Europe’s biggest city. The Kremlin is Moscow’s most visited attraction and one of the world’s most remarkable buildings.
The historic fortified complex is situated in the very heart of the city. In fact, the imposing fortress overlooks the Moskva river to the south, St. Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square to the east, and the Alexander Garden to the west. Moreover, it is known as the seat of Russian power and a true symbol of the country. Here’s 10 interesting facts to know before you go!
1. The Kremlin’s name is simple but powerful
Firstly, it’s easy to see where the structure gets its name from! ‘Kremlin’ is a word used to describe a castle or an important fortified complex in Russia.
2. The Kremlin’s stars always shine
The five stars on top of the Kremlin weigh one ton each and are made of ruby to enhance their shine.
Furthermore, in their 80 year existence, the illumination of the Kremlin stars has only been turned off twice.
First during WWII, when the Kremlin was camouflaged to hide it from bomber aircraft.
Secondly, they were turned off due to the filming of a movie. Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov was shooting a scene for the Barber of Siberia, which is set in pre-revolution Russia.
3. The Kremlin used to have statues of eagles
The stars that decorate the towers of the Kremlin have only existed since 1935. Previously, the four Kremlin towers were topped with two-headed eagles which were melted down by the Soviet government and replaced with stars.
4. The President of Russia commutes to and from the Kremlin by helicopter
A helipad was completed in 2013 to stop the disruption of traffic caused by a procession. Also, as of 2015, the Kremlin became the home of Vladimir Putin, the current President of Russia.
5. The Kremlin hosts five palaces and four cathedrals – it’s massive!
Not only is it the largest fortress in Russia, but also the biggest active fortress in the whole of Europe. Of course there have been larger constructions of its kind, but the Kremlin is the biggest one still in use.
6. The Kremlin is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Kremlin and Red Square were elected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.
7. The Kremlin is home to the world’s largest bell
The Tsar Bell has never been rung as it was unfortunately broken during construction. In addition to this, the Kremlin is home to the world’s largest cannon!
8. The Kremlin was cleverly protected from fatal damage during WWII
Despite Moscow being largely attacked in World War II, the Kremlin didn’t suffer significant damage. This was because it was cleverly disguised as housing by being painted and decorated with fake windows and doors.
9. The Kremlin has a total of 20 towers!
They all have names apart from two, which are known as ‘the first unnamed’ and ‘the second unnamed’. The tallest tower is called Troitskaya, standing at 80 feet tall, whereas the most recognised one is Spasskaya, the clock tower.
10. The Kremlin has changed a lot over time
Over time, the Kremlin has changed dramatically from its initial design to the structure we see today. The building was originally made of wood. In fact, the Kremlin used to be a city itself, surrounded by ramparts, towers and battlements.
The walls of the Kremlin were originally painted white to preserve the bricks. Subsequently, in the late 19th century, the walls were given their red brick look. To see the Kremlin in its white state, search for the paintings of the Russian artists Pyotr Vereshchagin and Alexei Savrasov.
Armed with these facts, you’re all set to visit Europe’s largest active fortress. Are you eager to visit Europe’s biggest city too and see it all for yourself? Check out our Russia tours here.