The Kremlin dominates Red Square, the left bank of the Moskva River, history, religion, politics, Moscow, and Russia itself. And, of course, any visit to the capital.
It is the fortified and beating heart of Russia, and the first place you should visit. The closed triangle of power, the Forbidden City of the Tsars, its blooms are monuments, palaces, churches, and museums. A city within the city (closed on Thursdays) famous for its imperial parades and cathedrals, it has 19 towers, built from 1485 to 1680, of which eight mark the perimeter. Among them is the Nabatnaya, whose bells warned the public of Tartar raids, and told them to come seek protection in the enclosure.
Passing through the St. Frol's (Saviour's) Gate, the visitor's eye will apprehend the different styles (Renaissance or neoclassical) of the official buildings: the Kremlin Senate, Arsenal, State Kremlin Palace, Palace of Facets, Grand Kremlin Palace, Terem Palace, and the Presidential Administration buildings. Note the octagonal bell tower (1508) of Ivan the Great, which, at 81 meters, dominates all. Don't miss the Queen of Bells, the 200-ton Tsar's Bell, broken during its casting in 1701, and never rung.
Dormition Cathedral Moscow Kremlin
It crowned the tsars and blessed Vladimir Putin. The gold-domed Dormition Cathedral reigns supreme in the history of Holy Russia. It's on the steps of this ‘Cathedral of the Assumption' that Ivan the Great tore up the letter that made him dependent on the khans of the Golden Horde.
This building, by an Italian architect, would lay the foundations of Russian art, nourished by a caravan of Italian and Greek artists brought to Moscow by Ivan's wife Sophia, who brought him, in her dowry, the famous two-headed eagle, emblem of the Byzantine Empire. Dormition Cathedral was built in 1479 by Aristofile Fioravanti. This gold, blue, and red symbol of the Italian Renaissance in the heart of Moscow is the most important building of the Russian state.
The gateway to the divine, the iconostasis separating the clergy from the celebrants dates from 1652, but many of its icons are older, including the breathtaking Saviour with the Angry Eye, painted in the 1340's.
Cathedral of the Annunciation Moscow Kremlin
The private chapel of the imperial family, the Cathedral of the Annunciation, with its nine golden domes, is not dedicated to independence, like the Dormition Cathedral, or to the victories of the Russian army, as is the Cathedral of the Archangel, but… to prayer.
Each Tsar enriched the edifice by adding new works of art. For Ivan the Terrible, it was an extra door: excommunicated after his fourth marriage, he could only attend the service if he stayed behind a gate. Completed in 1489 by an architect from Pskov influenced by the Italian Renaissance, the cathedral is distinguished by its jasper floor, golden doors, frescoes, and, of course, its extraordinary iconostasis, on which hang icons by Andrei Rublev, his master Theophanes the Greek, and Prokhor of Gorodets.
There is an especially well-executed Eastern-Orthodox Deesis (Christ enthroned, carrying a book, and flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist), with the Mother of God, dressed in black veils on a gold background, raising her hands in supplication.