Russia // Moscow //

The Kremlin

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Brooding and glittering in the heart of the capital, the Kremlin (Aleksandrovsky Sad; 10am–5pm, closed Thurs; R350, student R100; w http://www.kreml.ru; Borovitskaya) is both the heart of historical Moscow and home to its present-day parliament, the Duma. Its founding is attributed to Prince Yuriy Dolgorukiy, who built a wooden fort here in about 1147. Look out for the Tsar Cannon, cast in 1586: one of the largest cannons ever made, this was intended to defend the Saviour Gate, but has never been fired. Close by looms the earthbound, broken Tsar Bell, the largest bell in the world, cast in 1655. Cathedral Square is the historic heart of the Kremlin, dominated by the magnificent, white Ivan the Great Bell Tower. Of the square’s four key churches, the most important is the Cathedral of the Assumption, with a spacious, light and echoing interior, walls and pillars smothered with icons and frescoes, and temporary exhibitions housed in its belfry. The Cathedral of the Archangel houses the tombs of Russia’s rulers from Grand Duke Ivan I to Tsar Ivan V, while the golden-domed Cathedral of the Annunciation (closed for renovations at time of writing) hides some of Russia’s finest icons, including works by Theophanes the Greek and Andrey Rublev.

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