Moscow's Kremlin and Cathedrals

Penny W-TStarred Page By Penny W-T, 14th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>Russia>Moscow & Around

Have you ever wondered what Moscow's Kremlin might conceal? Well, a few years ago I had an opportunity to travel there and found an amazing microcosm of life sheltered behind those forbidding walls. Join me on a little tour behind the scenes of this enigmatic place.

Inside the Kremlin

My excursion to Moscow was a short visit, with an Astronomy focus, but whilst there it was an opportunity to explore (as much as possible – under supervision!). The main focus of my exploration was to be Red Square, but that is for another time – my attention initially was taken by the Kremlin.
I had never realised that the Kremlin was not just a building – it is a complete village behind those walls. As such it is a fascinating insight. For foreign tourists there are organised tours arranged around this ‘village’ where you can explore museums, cathedrals, exhibition/conference halls and other buildings that in earlier times were the residences of the Royal family – the Tsars. Wide roads and pavements are completely devoid of traffic or pedestrians but emphasise the sheer size and dimensions of this village within a city.

Heading for the Kremlin through Red Square

The Kremlin is encompassed by heavy high walls, interspersed at regular points by large identical towers – each with an illuminated red star at the tip of their spires. The architecture is imposing, providing an interesting insight into Russian design throughout its history.
The main entrance into this complex is found on Red Square, where the wide road opens into the Square opposite St Basil’s Cathedral. The only cars seen in this area are the ‘official’ cars that sweep in and out of the Kremlin at great speed.

Queues . . . . and more queues

Built into the Kremlin wall is Lenin’s Tomb. This is a curious spot, highlighted by the fact that leading up to it, and for miles around it, there is always a queue of people waiting to get in to ‘pay respects’ This body of people was enormous, and the queue was encountered well before Red Square came into view. The thought crossed my mind as to how could these people have the time to stand for hours in this queue? Were none of them in employment? Did none of them have homes to keep? Who looks after the children? Our tour guide told us that we could go to the head of the queue and gain entrance to the tomb immediately, because Muscovites were ‘proud’ that foreign visitors came to see Lenin. We decided against taking such advantage of the locals, who were standing for hours. It is a very strange situation, Lenin has been dead for decades, yet the people still come in droves to show their respects. The cynic in me did wonder if this was a required aspect of daily life. After all, these people could not be earning a living or carrying out useful enterprise while standing in the freezing cold on Moscow’s streets.


Within the Kremlin walls there is not only one, but many, cathedrals. Exquisite architecture, imposing dimensions and an assortment of the easily recognisable ‘onion domes’ these buildings are eagerly promoted by the tour guide for their ornate beauty and decoration. For a country at the time that had no official recognition of Religion, these buildings were not in use, and in several cases were being used as storage depots for religious furnishings and artwork. Some were open, as museums for the benefit of ‘foreign’ visitors.

Bell towers

This particular building comprised a fascinating collection of bells. Not just the Bell Tower at the forefront, but all the other upper floors of the building contained bells. Whether these are actually ever rung these days was not determined. There is a lot of information on Google relating to these buildings, that outlines the history and heritage of Moscow’s wonderful cathedrals.

So much to see, so much to do

The huge conference hall was visited, to give an idea of where all the Party Conferences were held. A gleaming glass and marble modern building it was evident that there is money in the country for certain projects, even if there was a problem with the economy and the people were unable to get much in the way of consumer goods. Even food items were obviously in sparse supply.
But the one museum that was proudly explained to us ‘capitalists’ made me smile. It displayed all the goods and treasures that had been removed from the royal palaces after the assassination of the Tsar and his descendents in 1917. Believe me, this is an Aladdin’s cave that surpasses all others. The one item that sticks in my mind was a huge family bible, such items being common property in all families in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, the cover to this particular manuscript was completely encrusted with precious stones – diamonds, pearls, sapphires, emeralds, rubies and lots of other gems. Strangely, we were not allowed to photograph this item! This museum was an insight into how the Russian Royal family had lived, and the opulence of their daily lives only served to highlight the abject poverty, that even now, their citizens were suffering.

Changes to the System

Of course, my visit was some years ago. I am intrigued to know what life is like there today. The change from communistic methods to capitalism has given rise once more to a wealthy network of business entrepreneurs – many of whom have invested in recent times into British Football clubs!
One of my lasting memories of this visit will always be the beautiful cathedrals that were lying in sad neglect for all those years. I hope they have also been resurrected.


Cathedrals, Kremlin Buildings, Red Square, Russia, Travel

Meet the author

author avatar Penny W-T
Published articles on education themes, travel, history and writing techniques. Written a book on WW1 - Gallipoli, and travel books. Run a marketing network for small businesses.

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author avatar Songbird B
14th May 2013 (#)

What a fascinating insight and a wonderful guide Penny.. This kept me reading from start to finish..Congrats on Star merit my friend \0/x

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author avatar Penny W-T
14th May 2013 (#)

Thank you. I am always amazed when they put on star awards - my work doesn't seem anywhere as good as others that I read.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
14th May 2013 (#)

Lovely, what a tour...thank you Penny-:0)-!

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author avatar Penny W-T
14th May 2013 (#)

I am so pleased that people are actually enjoying my little tours around!

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
14th May 2013 (#)

A well written informative article..

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author avatar Penny W-T
14th May 2013 (#)

Thank you for your comment. I have had a look at your site and will enjoy reading some of your material.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
14th May 2013 (#)

this is a marvellous rendition of what to do/see in Moscow...thank you so very much....

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author avatar Penny W-T
15th May 2013 (#)

Thank you for taking the time to read this piece. Moscow is a fascinating city. I have a few more insights to share at other times.

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