Ashton Fleming
The Kremlin River View Image Explanation
HIS 111, Fall 2008

The rectangular building in the far left of this picture is the Armoury Chamber, which was a part of the Grand Kremlin Palace (Большой Кремлёвский дворец or Bolshoi Kremlevskii dvorets) complex, and was constructed in 1851. The Armoury originally was used to produce and store weapons, jewelry, some of the Tsar’s household items and later was used as a treasury. Moscow’s best painters, jewelers and gunsmiths worked at the Armoury Chamber. It became the first public museum in Moscow in 1806 under Alexander I (Kremlin Museum).

On the far right in the picture is the Ivan the Great Bell-Tower complex. It was built between 1505 and 1508. In 1812, the original Bell-Tower complex was blown up by Napoleon’s army while retreating through Moscow, and only the tower was left standing. The Belfry and Filaret’s Annex were reconstructed between 1814 and 1815 (Kremlin Museum).

Part of the Assumption Cathedral (aka Cathedral of the Dormition or Успенский Собор or Uspenskii sobor) is visible in the back. That was built between the 1300s and 1400s. The Assumption Cathedral was used throughout Russian history for ceremonial purposes, such as the inaugurations of Tsars, church services before military campaigns, public readings of royal documents and the coronation of Emperors. Also, between the 14th and 17th centuries the Assumption Cathedral was the burial place of the heads of the Russian Orthodox Churches, both the Patriarchs and the Metropolitans (Kremlin Museum).

The Archangel Cathedral (Aрхангельский собор or Arkhangel'skii sobor) is also visible, built between 1505-1508 in place of an older church. When the church was built, it was dedicated to St. Archangel Michael, the guardian of soldiers. The cathedral was used as the burial place of Tsars and Princes until the eighteenth century. The walls of the Archangel Cathedral began filling with wall paintings during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, and all of the murals were painted by master painters from the Armoury Chamber. Unfortunately, some of the older wall paintings have not survived (Kremlin Museum).

The Church of Laying Our Lady’s Holy Robe (Церковь Ризоположения or Tserkov Rizopolozheniia) is the structure with the bluish-grayish top, kind of in the back, and was built between 1484 and 1485.

The Church of Laying Our Lady’s Holy Robe was originally the church of the Metropolitans and the Patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church. The name of the church came from a festival from the fifth century that celebrated the movement of the virgin Mary’s robe from Palestine to Constantinople. The wall paintings inside of the church depict the life of the virgin Mary, and the pillars feature pictures of Russian Metropolitans and Moscow Princes (Kremlin Museum).

The Annunciation Cathedral (Благовещенский собор or Blagoveshchenskii sobor) is the other structure that is between the Armoury Chamber and the Church of Laying Our Lady’s Holy Robe. The Annunciation Cathedral was originally a home church of the Tsar. It was connected to the Great Princes’ palace by a passageway, and was used for royal family ceremonies and as a treasury (Kremlin Museum).

In the center of the picture is the short, red, tower called the Secret Tower (Тайницкая башня or Tainishchkaia bashnia or Водяная башня or Water Tower) on the middle of the south Kremlin wall. The Secret Tower was built in 1485 to replace the Kremlin’s Chushkov Gate. This Tower was one of the most important protective structures built to fortify the Kremlin. It featured an underground passage to the Moskva River, a fire-turret and alarm bells. This structure has changed over time, and parts of it have been disassembled, restored or removed completely (Google SketchUp).

All of the Kremlin structures now are home to museums containing varying pieces of Russian history. Also, many of the original architecture and the original wall paintings and murals have survived and are still viewable (Kremlin Museum).

ps.  The river is the Moscow River.

Works Cited
The Moscow Kremlin Museums. 28 Nov. 1997. The Moscow Kremlin. 11 Oct. 2008.
The Secret (Tainitskaya) Tower of Moscow. 2 March 2007. Google SketchUp. 11 Oct. 2008


This page is copyright © 2008-11, C.T. Evans
For information contact