Jul 27 2002

Russia: The Kremlin

by in Eastern Europe & the Caucasus, Russia

In the Russian language, “Kreml” (Kremlin) means “fortress”. All ancient Russian cities had a kremlin at their center. The Moscow Kremlin served as the seat of government for the Tsars of Russia until Peter the Great transferred the capital to St. Petersburg. In March 1918, the Bolsheviks moved the capital back to Moscow, and since then the Kremlin has remained the center of power.



This is the gate that all visitors to the Kremlin enter through. The white cathedral in the background is the recently rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The original cathedral was destroyed by Stalin in 1931. Stalin’s dream was to use the spot to build a gigantic Palace of the Soviets – higher than the Empire State Building and topped with a statue of Lenin taller than the Statue of Liberty. The land proved too swampy to build such a grandiose structure on, so the Soviets instead built one of the world’s largest, heated outdoor swimming pools. Makes sense…



There is an area in the Kremlin called Cathedral Square, which is surrounded by – yep, you guessed it – very old churches. Here’s one of them.



Another view of that cathedral.



Here I am in front of the Senate Building with the Savior’s (Spasskaya) Tower in the background. This building is where Lenin had his office. This is the closest the guards would let us get to the building. If I remember correctly, our guide told us it used to be the presidential residence but for some reason Putin chose not to live there…because he’s special, you know.



Kate and I in front of the “Tsar’s Bell”. Weighing a hefty 210 tons, this is the largest bell in the world. It doesn’t work, though, and has never actually rung because there is a huge crack in it and an 11 ton piece fell off.



The Russians are very original when they name stuff…for instance, this cannon is named “Tsar’s Cannon”. It is the largest cannon in the world but has never been fired. The cannon balls in front of the cannon are too large for the barrel. Ah, those silly Russians.


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