Inextricably linked to all the most important historical and political events in Russia since the 13th century, the Kremlin (built between the 14th and 17th centuries by outstanding Russian and foreign architects) was the residence of the Great Prince and also a religious centre. At the foot of its ramparts, on Red Square, St Basil's Basilica is one of the most beautiful Russian Orthodox monuments.
From the 13th century to the founding of St Petersburg, the Moscow Kremlin was directly and tangibly associated with every major event in Russian history. The Kremlin contains within its walls a unique series of masterpieces of architecture and the plastic arts - religious monuments of exceptional beauty such as the Church of the Annunciation, Cathedral of the Dormition, Church of the Archangel and the bell tower of Ivan Veliki, and palaces such as the Great Palace of the Kremlin, which comprises within its walls the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin and the Teremnoi Palace. On Red Square is Saint Basil the Blessed, still a major edifice of Orthodox art. Russian architecture was clearly affected many times in its history by influences emanating from the Kremlin. A particular example is the Italian Renaissance.
The Kremlin of Moscow, which according to chronicles dates from 1156, contains an ensemble of monuments of outstanding quality. Ever since the establishment of the Principality of Moscow in 1263 and the transfer to Moscow of the seat of Vladimir's Metropolitan in 1328, this was the centre of both temporal and spiritual power. Some of these original buildings border Cathedral Square, others, such as the Nativity of the Virgin (1393), were incorporated into the Great Palace when it was rebuilt. The nucleus expanded northward with the palace of the Patriarchs and the Church of the Twelve Apostles, erected in the 17th century, and especially with the Arsenal of Peter the Great which fills the north-west angle of the enceinte. The triangular palace of the Senate (today the seat of the Council of Ministers) was built by Kazakov for Empress Catherine II in the north-east sector between the Arsenal and the monasteries of the Miracle and of the Ascension, two splendid structures that were razed in 1932. In the south-east sector Kazakov built another smaller palace for the empress, known as the Nicholas palace, and also destroyed in 1932.
Red Square is closely associated with the Kremlin, lying beneath its east wall. At its south end is the famous Cathedral of St Basil the Blessed, one of the most beautiful monuments of Orthodox art. It was originally one of a pair of churches, the other being the Cathedral of Kazan, erected in 1633 in the vast open area bordering the 'Goum' by Prince Pozarsky to commemorate the victory over the Poles. It disappeared in the early 1930s along with several convents in the neighbouring area (Saviour-behind-the-Images, St Nicholas, Epiphany).
With its triangular enceinte pierced by five gates and reinforced with 29 towers, the Kremlin preserves the memory of the wooden fortifications erected by Yuri Dolgoruki around 1156 on the hill at the confluence of the Moskova and Nieglinnaya rivers (the Alexander Garden now covers the latter). By its layout and its history of transformations (in the 14th century Dimitri Donskoi had an enceinte of logs built, then the first stone wall), it is the prototype of the Kremlin, the citadel at the centre of old Russian towns, such as Pskov, Tula, Kazan or Smolensk.
The influence of the Kremlin style was felt when Rudolfo Fioravanti built the Cathedral of the Dormition (1475-79), and grew stronger with the Granovitaya Palata (Hall of Facets, 1487-91) by Marco Ruffo and Pietro Antonio Solario as well as in the towers of the fortified enceinte, built during the same period by Solario using principles established by Milanese engineers (the Nikolskaya and the Spasskaya both date from 1491). The Renaissance expression was even clearer in the classic capitals and shells of the Church of the Archangel reconstructed from 1505 to 1509 by Alevisio Novi. Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC