Cathedrals of The Kremlin
When you think of Moscow, what is the first place that springs to mind? Red Square? St Basil’s Cathedral? We ticked those off yesterday. Ah, it must be the Kremlin.
On our way to the Kremlin, we popped our heads into the Bolshoi, sadly there were no tickets left for us, but it was nice to see the serene pink foyer, a beautiful place, and I am sure the performances are even more exquisite.
It did take us quite a time to locate the Kremlin ticket office, passing Lenin’s Mausoleum, which was shut, but I’m not sure we would have wanted to queue for hours to see a dead person, despite it being impressively preserved.
Eventually, we found the way and passed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and the Eternal flame, flanked by two young soldiers who looked remarkably similar to one another. This place marks the spot where the Nazis reached Moscow and is a powerful reminder of the tragedy of war.
The Kremlin is a vast complex inside the red brick fortress. Treasures of past Tsars in the Gem and Armour museums and Palace are there to see, but not for us. It costs more. We didn’t see Mr Putin either.
Instead, we wandered around a cluster of Cathedrals with their golden domes gleaming in the sunshine. Sadly no photos were allowed to be taken inside, so you’ll just have to take my word for the descriptions.
First, we entered the Cathedral of the Assumption, with a lovely painted doorway which looked like it had been whitewashed in the past. This Cathedral is where all Russian Tsars were crowned, the headquarters of the Russian Orthodox Church and burial ground of leading religious people, so steeped in history.
Across a narrow path was the Church of the Deposition of the Robe of the Holy Virgin. Crikey, they like their long names here! Inside were several 14th to 19th-century woodcarvings which had been saved from other churches from cultural centres, including one of the oldest known carved icons of St George, from the end of the 14th century.
The very grand Cathedral of the Annunciation with its five gleaming gold domes was, on the inside, covered in paintings. There was a rare copper gate decorated with images of the Annunciation, prophets and philosophers and a beautiful blue carved door leading us to the western portal.
The Cathedral of the Archangel was our last one to see and holds tombs of many Russian Princes and rulers, even going back as far as 1340 and includes that rogue Ivan the Terrible.
We are amazed that these cathedrals were allowed to remain during communist times, as many around the country were destroyed. Perhaps and thankfully, the leaders appreciated the historical and architectural heritage of this place within the Kremlin walls.
At the foot of the 'Ivan the Great' Bell Tower (is this the same Ivan as the Terrible one?) is the Tsar Bell. This is the largest in the world, weighs over 200,000kg and over 6m in height and diameter. During the casting, a large piece fell off, so it was never chimed, but the interior was used as a chapel, and now a great photographic opportunity, don’t you think?