Red Square/Kremlin, Moscow
Despite my reputation I'm not actually a total drunkard. I never start on the beer until I've done something either productive, cultural or energetic (and sometimes all three).
Wandering around the Red Square and Kremlin area on my first morning I fancied a coffee but because my hotel had required payment in cash, which had used up most of my maximum ATM withdrawal limit for the day, I was a bit skinny for money and didn't want to spend a couple of hundred roubles on a coffee in one of the tourist-trap cafes.
My wanderings had taken me into the rather plush Okhotny Ryad shopping mall, where I definitely couldn't afford a coffee, but then when I was exiting onto the Manege Square, in front of the State History Museum, I noticed this coffee machine.
At only 25 roubles for an espresso this was just the job, and surprisingly good coffee too.
Visiting Red Square, the central square in Moscow, has alwatys been a must for my friends and me in Moscow.
Actually Krasnaya Ploshchad, as it sounds in Russian, should not be translated as "red" - as it sounds in Russian "krasnaya", but as "fine" for the Russian word "krasnaya" means both, but in this case it was meant to be Fine Square. Personally I agree with that widespread explanation.
The square is not very big: 695 m in length, 130 m in width, but it's very impressive.
The Moscow Kremlin faces onto Red Square with its splendid towers and walls. Red Square is rarely empty on a weekday. There one can encounter people from all over the world.
Fondest memory: Staying at my friends' uptown.
The Ivan the Great Bell-Tower complex is the key of the Moscow Kremlin's composition.
It separates Cathedral Square from Ivanov Square.
Fondest memory: The ensemble had been constructed for over than three centuries - from 1505 till 1815. It includes three objects of different time: the pillar of the Ivan the Great Bell-Tower, the Uspenskaya (Assumption) Belfry and the Filaret's Annex.
The central tower of the southern Kremlin's wall. Built in 1485 by Anton Fryazin instead of the old white-stone Kremlin's Chushkov Gate of the epoch of Dmitry Donskoi.
In the end of the XVth century, after it was built, the construction of new fortifications was started in the Kremlin.
Fondest memory: In 1862, a decorative strelnitsa in the XVIIth century Russian architectural style was attached to the tower. It was dismantled during the renovation of 1930-1933.
The height of the tower is 38,4 m.
It is the only tower outside the Kremlin walls survived till nowadays. Such watchtowers protected the bridges that led to the fortress.
It was erected in 1516 by architect Aleviz Fryasin of Milan. The short tower (18 m) encircled by a moat and a river, it had the only gate which was firmly shut in cases of danger.
The Kutafiya Tower was roofless and consisted of two levels. There were loopholes on the tower's top.
In 1685 it was decorated with a filigree top. The drawbridges across the moat led to the side Gate. Up till now one can see chinks for the lifting machine's chains at the side Gate.
Fondest memory: The tower was named after the Old Russian word "kut" meaning "shelter, corner, "peninsula".
Its present-day height is 13,5 m.
The 70 m (230 ft) high Saviour Tower is the most magnificent of the Kremlin towers, the very symbol and emblem of Moscow.
From time immemorial it has been the principal entrance to the Kremlin. The tower, like its two neighbors tothe north, was built in 1491 by the Italian architect Pietro Solari.
The tower was given its name in 1658, when an icon of Christ was set up over the entrance. Before the October Revolution peaple were required to take their hats off when passing through the gate.
It was not tall originally, but then it was added to in 1624-1625 and adorned with white-stone sculptures.
Fondest memory: The first clock was set into the tower in the 16th century. In the 17th century it was replaced by a chiming clock made by the English master Christopher Halloway. Subsequently, the clock's mechanism has been changed repeatedly.
The Kremlin chimes that adorn the tower today were made in 1851-1852 by the brothers N. and P. Butenop. The gigantic mechanism (about 25 tons) of the carillon occupies 3 storeys of the tower.
Until the October Revolution the carillon played the tsarist national anthem, and between 1917 and 1941 it played the "Internationale". The clock now only strikes the hours.
The tower stands at the south-west corner of the Kremlin. Built in 1488 it had a specific importance in the Kremlin’s fortification system as it protected shallow waters near the Neglinnaya River’s mouth.
The Vodovzvodnaya Tower had a well and a secret underground passage towards the Moskva River. In 1633 a water-pumping machine was installed inside the tower to take water from the Moskva River and send it along lead-coated pipes to the Kremlin Gardens. After that, the tower was called the Vodovzvodnaya, i.e. Water-Supplying.
In 1672-1686, the tower was overbuilt with an extra stone level and a marquee.
Fondest memory: During the Napoleon’s invasion of 1812, the tower was blown up. Later it was rebuilt under the supervision of architect Ossip Bove.
In 1937, the Vodovzvodnaya Tower was crowned by a ruby star.
Its height without the star is 57,7 m, with the star – 61,25 m.
The murals of 1642-1943 and the grand iconostasis of 1653 create the present-day look of the cathedral.
In front of the iconostasis you can see Tsar's, Tsarina's and Patriarch's praying-seats. The Tsar's one is of special interest. At the south-western corner higher its bronze marquee.
After the Revolution of 1917, the Assumption Cathedral became a museum. Making the exposition, the staff tried to preserve the interior. Thanks to permanent restoration works practically all the icons and murals were open up. Since 1990, church services have been recommenced.
Fondest memory: In XIV-XVII centuries, the Assumption Cathedral was the burial place of the Russian Orthodox Church heads - Metropolitans and Patriarchs. You still can see sarcophagi through glass covering.
For six centuries the Assumption Cathedral had been the state and cultural center of Russia: Great Princes were set for reigning and local princes swore fealty, inaugurations of Tsars and coronations of Emperors took place here. Bishops, Metropolitans and Patriarchs were inaugurated, statements and ceremonial documents were publicly read, church services before military campaigns and in case of a victory were held at the Assumption Cathedral.
Fondest memory: The first stone cathedral's foundation was laid in 1326 by the first Moscow Metropolitan Peter and Prince Ivan Kalita (Money-bag). In late XV century, Great Prince Ivan III who had consolidated all Russian princedoms under the power of Moscow, began the construction of the new residence from rebuilding of the Assumption Cathedral.
It was erected by a specially invited Italian architect in 1479.
The A.R.C.E.C. Kremlin Military School was erected in 1932-1934 on the project of architect Ilya Rherberg on the place of the Chudov Monastery and the Ascension Nunnery abolished in 1929.
Fondest memory: My grandfather was one of the Kremlin Military School students in 1919-1922. And even had a short conversation with Lenin onse...
The interstitial tower mainly protected the Kremlin's side facing Red Square. It must have been built in 1490-s. The tower's shape is simular to the Nabatnaya, Komendantskaya and Oruzheinaya Towers
Fondest memory: In 1680-s, it was overbuilt with a marquee topped with a weathervane. After the Kremlin Senate had been erected in 1787 by Matvei Kazakov, the tower was given its name.
The usual name of the Annunciation Cathedral in documents and papers of XVI-XVII centuries was on the Prince's court, in the Anteroom, i.e. at the entrance to the palace.
Fondest memory: The cathedral was set for royal family ceremonies. As a rule, the Protopope of the Annunciation Cathedral was the the Great Prince's confessor and the custodian of the Prince's stamp
The history of the Archangel's Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin dates back to the XIV century: in 1333, the first Great Moscow Prince Ivan Kalita (Money-bag) ordered to lay the foundation of a white-stone church devoted to St. Archangel Michael respected in Rus as a guardian of soldiers and Russian princes in their feats of arms.
Fondest memory: The cathedral was first adorned with wall-painting in the reign of Ivan the Terrible.
The ancient murals have not survived except small fragments on pillars and several compositions of the altar and the tsars shrine. In 1652-1666, the cathedral was painted a new by a big team of Russian masters.
The Arsenal's building has a long history. The construction began in 1702 on the initiative of Peter I according to the plan of his own.
The Arsenal was to be used not only like an armoury and ammunition storehouse but also like a museum-depository of captures and ancient weapons. The largest Moscow building of Peter the Great's epoch was placed in the northern corner of the Kremlin's territory, between the Troitskaya (Trinity) and Nikolskaya Towers, free after the 1701 fire.
Fondest memory: In spite of long construction, the original building's composition has survived. The trapeze-shaped low edifice with a sizable inner yard and two arched passageways is made of brick. The architecture of the two-story fasades gives an impression of solid durability.
The famous Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchad) has always been a place of great public events like political rallies, demonstrations and military parades.
The square has a slight curvature and dimensions of about 400 m length and 150 m width.
It is surrounded by many well worthseeing sights like the Lenin Mausoleum, St. Basil's Cathedral, Kazan Cathedral, the Lobnoe Mesto, the GUM Department Store, the Kremlin Walls and the Historical Museum.
For detailed information about some of these sights, please have a look at my "Things to Do Tips".