Moscow Kremlin, usually referred to as simply the Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River to the south, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square to the east, and the Alexander Garden to the west.
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.
The Kremlin walls as they now appear were built between 1485 and 1495. The Kremlin’s liberation by the volunteer army of Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin paved the way for the election of Mikhail Romanov as the new czar.
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 czar Peter barely escaped. Cathedral Square is the heart of the Kremlin.
It is surrounded by six buildings, including three cathedrals. The Cathedral of the Dormition was completed in 1479 to be the main church of Moscow and where all the Tsars were crowned. The massive limestone facade, capped with its five golden cupolas was the design of Aristotele Fioravanti.
Several important metropolitans and patriarchs are buried there, including Peter and Makarii. The gilded, three-domed Cathedral of the Annunciation was completed next in 1489, only to be reconstructed to a nine-domed design a century later.
At the same time, stone buildings began to appear in the Kremlin and, by the end of the 14th Century; the citadel was fortified with stone walls. Under Ivan the Great (1462 – 1505), the Kremlin became the centre of a unified Russian state, and was extensively remodeled, as befitted its new status.
Meanwhile, Moscow spread outside the walls of the citadel, and the Kremlin became a world apart, the base of the twin powers of state and religion. This period saw the construction of the magnificent Cathedrals of the Assumption, the Annunciation and the Archangel, and the uniquely Russian Terem Palace, the royal residence.
Peter himself built the Kremlin Arsenal, originally planned as a military museum and now occupied by a barracks, and the 18th and 19th centuries brought Neoclassical masterpieces such as the Senate Building and the Great Kremlin Palace.
The early Kremlin settlement appeared as the center of crafts and trade owing to its extremely advantageous geographic position: it lay at the crossroads of trade routes and waterways meeting at the foot of the hill. The rivers and the encircling forest turned the settlement into a natural fortress.
In olden times a Slav tribe of Pagan Vyatichis lived there and Moscow became one of the centers of Christianization of this woodland area. The Kremlin wooden buildings often suffered from devastating fires, enemy attacks and natural calamities.
Thus, the Kremlin was totally destroyed in the first third of the 13th century, a tragic period in the history of Rus when the Mongol-Tatar hordes attacked in with fire and sword pillaging and ravaging the Russian lands. For nearly 250 years the Mongol-Tatar yoke wasted the soul of the Russian people who prevented the Tatars from moving to Europe.
At that time, Moscow was a sort of suburb of the capital town of Vladimir and the Kremlin, with its court yard, mansions and subsidiary buildings, old churches and necropolis, was a frontier post in the outlying districts of the Vladimir principality. Out of all the towns in the Vladimir land, the Moscow bridgehead was the first one where the nomad hordes delivered a crushing blow. The Kremlin was razed to the ground.