During World War II, Josef Stalin had living quarters inside the Kremlin. On one occasion in 1942, he hosted British Prime Minister Winston Churchill there. After a dinner in Stalin’s Kremlin apartment that included many bottles of wine, they reached sufficient accord to issue a joint communique at the conclusion of Churchill’s visit.
By Olga Chichkova, Program Services Manager, Russia
Moscow’s great Kremlin is the most recognized icon of the mystery and intrigue of the former Soviet Union—but it’s more than just a symbol of what used to be. The Kremlin, situated on Borovitsky Hill along the north bank of the Moscow River, serves as the very heart of Moscow, with the city’s streets radiating outward in circles around the complex.
The official residence of the President of the Russian Federation, Moscow’s Kremlin is the greatest of all Russian kremlins, or walled citadels, and has evolved greatly over time. Historians suggest that the site of the Kremlin was inhabited dating back to 500 BC. The first fortification was built here by the Duke of Kiev in 1147.
From this point forward, the Kremlin grew in both size and power, and the structure’s wood was replaced by stronger stone. In 1326, the Russian Orthodox Church transferred to the citadel, making its seat at the Cathedral of the Assumption—the oldest and most noteworthy of the Kremlin’s cathedrals. Within the structure’s limestone walls and
beneath its golden cupolas, many significant events took place, including the crowning of Russian emperors and the consecration of bishops.
Six cathedrals are housed here today—each adorned with icons and frescoes inside and gilded onion domes outside. Among them are the Cathedral of the Annunciation, once the church of the Grand Dukes and tsars; and the Cathedral of the Archangel, built by Ivan the Great as a final resting place for Russian Royalty. In addition, numerous museums are found within the Kremlin, including the State Armory, the oldest museum in Russia.
Arguably more famous are the Kremlin’s magnificent red-brick walls. Erected by the end of the 15th century, the walls are 65 feet high, nearly 20 feet thick, and stretch around the citadel for more than a mile. Gated entries are interspersed amidst the walls, as are 20 mighty towers—the tallest standing 264 feet high. Since medieval times, the Kremlin’s great towers have proudly protected the heart of Moscow.