Sunday, October 31, 2010

Inside the Kremlin

Red Square

St. Basil's Cathedral

ItalicLenin Mausoleum & Kremlin Palaces

Kazan Cathedral

Gum Department Store

Shoppers in Gum

The Kremlin, citadel in Russian, is as imposing and daunting as the name itself. It has a striking similarity in aspiration to its counterpart, the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) in Beijing. The wooden fortress dates back to 1156, burnt and destroyed by the Mongol-Tatars in the early 13th century.

After 250 years of domination by the Golden Khanate of the Mongol horde, the fortress city rose up again to become the Kremlin that we see now. The growth of the citadel paralleled the transformation from the lowly Rus to the imperial Russia, and the rise of Moscow as the grand city of the tsars.

The most recognizable site in the Kremlin is the Red Square flanked by the Kremlin Palaces and Gum, with St. Basil's at the far end. The addition of the Lenin Mausoleum came in 1924. Cathedrals seem to be more prominent nowadays than the government buildings of this once communist, atheist haven.

The once wooden fortress remains as formidable as the tsars would have wanted. And for the ordinary visitor, it is well worth the grand hike inside the citadel, its museums, cathedrals save for the palaces which are off limits.