10 Things You Didn't Know About The Kremlin

Red Square at Night
Red Square at Night | © Sergey Korovkin 84/ Wikimedia Commons
Dasha Fomina

Russia’s oldest fortress and most symbolic attraction, the Kremlin is big enough to keep you busy for days. From disappearing eagles to record breaking bells and canons, we have put together a list of 10 fascinating facts about the Kremlin. You will be the pride of your tour group.

The Kremlin is the largest fortress in Europe

Not only it’s the largest medieval fortress in Russia, it’s also the biggest active fortress in the whole of Europe. Sure, there has been bigger constructions of this kind, but the Kremlin is the only one that’s still being used.

The Kremlin walls used to be white

The Kremlin walls got their red brick look late in the 19th century, until then the walls had been painted white to preserve the bricks. To see the White Kremlin, look for works by the 18th- or 19th-century painters, like Pyotr Vereshchagin or Alexei Savrasov.

Red Square has nothing to do with the color red

The name comes from the Old Russian word “krasnyi”, meaning beautiful, and is in no way related to the color of buildings, which, as we now know, used to be white until late in the 19th century.

The Kremlin stars used to be eagles

In the days of Tsarist Russia, the four Kremlin towers were topped with two-headed eagles, which had been a Russian coat of arms since the 15th century. In 1935 the Soviet government replaced the eagles, which were melted down and replaced by the five-pointed stars we see today. The fifth star on the Vodovzvodnaya Tower was added later.

Kremlin from the river

The Kremlin towers have names

Of the 20 Kremlin towers only two don’t have proper names, they are called “the first unnamed” and “the second unnamed”. The tallest one is the 80 meter (262 ft) high Troitskaya tower, while the most recognizable is Spasskaya, aka the Kremlin Clock tower.

The Kremlin is densely built up

Behind the 2235 meter-long (7,332ft) Kremlin walls there are 5 squares and 18 buildings, with Spasskaya Tower, Ivan the Great Bell Tower, Dormition Cathedral, Troitskaya Tower and the Terem Palace being the most popular.

Dormition Cathedral, Assumption Belfry and Ivan the Great Bell Tower

The Kremlin survived WWII almost intact

During WWII the Kremlin was elaborately camouflaged to look like a residential building block. The church domes and famous green towers were painted grey and brown respectively, fake doors and windows were painted on the Kremlin walls, and the Red Square was encumbered with wooden constructions. It didn’t suffer much damage, even though Moscow was heavily bombarded in 1941-42.

The Kremlin is in the Guinness Book of Records

Moscow Kremlin is where you can see the world’s largest bell and the world’s largest cannon. The 6.14 metre (20ft) tall Tsar Bell was made in 1735, broke during metal casting and never rang, the Tsar Cannon, weighing 39.312 tonnes, was cast in 1586 and has never been used in a war, but it’s the largest cannon by caliber, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Tsar Bell, Kremlin, Moscow

The Kremlin stars always shine

In their 80 year existence, the illumination of the Kremlin stars has only been turned off only twice First during WWII, when the Kremlin was camouflaged to hide it from bomber aircraft. The second time, they were turned off for a movie. Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov was shooting a scene for the Barber of Siberia, which is set in pre-revolution Russia.

The Kremlin Clock has a deep secret

The secret of the Kremlin Clock’s accuracy literally lies beneath our feet. The clock is connected to the control clock in Sternberg Astronomical Institute via cable.

Spasskaya tower
landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article