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The Kremlin's Nikolskaya Tower lies opposite the History Museum – in red stone with white stone ornament in the Gothic style, with a thin spire. There are defensive arrow-slits to fire on potential attackers below – you can see them easily from here.
Military architect Pietro-Antonio Solari arrived in Moscow at the end of the C15th from Milan, during the reign of Ivan III. He built most of the Kremlin walls, with the exception of the side facing the Alexander Gardens. Solari designed the Nikolskaya Tower, built on massive foundations with a through-passage, defensive arrow-slits for firing on potential attackers, and a drawbridge. By tradition those leaving by this gate would be going to either baronial mansions or to monasteries. These days the Nikolskaya Tower is the entrance for the Kremlin's own staff and employees.
One explanation of the name “Nikolskaya” says the tower takes its name from an ikon of St.Nikolai the Wondrous (also called St.Nikolai of Mozhaisk) which once hung from its arrow-slits. The name may also be related to the Greek Monastery of St.Nicholas, once nearby on Nikolskaya Street. Traditionally people had liked to gather here in front of the ikon on the tower – the most revered ikon in Russia. And it was through this tower in 1612 that an army of Russian patriots gained access to the Kremlin, to eject the Poles who had occupied the country.
During the Russian Revolution of 1917, the revolutionaries opened fire first on the Nikolskaya Tower and the ikon of Nikolai of Mozhaisk. The Saint's left hand took several shots. He thus became called St.Nikolai the Wounded, but his likeness was no less honoured. Since the flow of worshippers to the ikon didn't abate, the Bolsheviks covered the ikon with a red cloth before the May-Day celebrations. Easter came late that year – in fact, on May 1st – and an astonished crowed witnesses a miracle as the cloth covering the ikon split its seams and fell apart. “St.Nikolai's sword ripped the cloth!” the crowd exclaimed, and the numbers flocking to see the ikon became even greater – something the Bolsheviks viewed with alarm. On the 17th of May, Lenin gave an order to the Kremlin Commendant for a 'restoration' of the Nikolskaya Tower. In place of the Ikon of St.Nikolai there appeared a blank white rectangle.
Until 2010 the Ikon of St.Nikolai on the tower was thought to be lost. But it turned out that it had been there for 80 years, entombed under a layer of cement. And not only cement, but another layer of heavy-duty mortar reinforced with steel rods the thickness of a finger, and a special grid to hold them in place. But on November 4th 2010, the newly-restored Ikon of St.Nikolai of Mozhaisk was reconsecrated on the Nikolskaya Tower.
Moscow is the capital of the ancient and modern Russian state. It has been playing crucial role for centuries. Here you can face all episodes of rich and gorgeous Russian history.
The city is full of historical buildings, monuments, cathedrals, museums and parks. It started many centuries ago from the Kremlin – medieval city-fortress overlooking the Moskva River. Now it is not only the government seat but open air museum. Behind the tall red brick walls palaces, cathedrals and museums are hidden. You can get there through one of the gates and walk along the streets that saw Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov, Peter the Great and all other Romanovs, and the Soviet leaders.
You can visit all the cathedrals on Sobornaya (Cathedral) Square, climb Ivan the Great Bell Tower, take photos of the Tzar Bell and Tzar Cannon, see state regalia, ceremonial vestments and gold and silver relics in the world-known treasury-house – the Armoury Chamber. To say more, the Kremlin and its vicinities are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
We would like to advise you not to concentrate on the Kremlin only. Now you can get out of the Kremlin through the Spasskiye Gate and find yourself on Red Square – the main square of the country where Victory Day parades take place. In winter there is a skating rink with some kind of souvenir bazar. Red Square is famous for being the part of so called Kitai-Gorod – the second ring of fortified walls. Here you will see the beautiful fairy-tale St. Basil’s Cathedral. It is open for tourists and it’s worth visiting. Other places that pay tourists’ attention are GUM (the main center for shopaholics), Lenin’s Mausoleum, the State History Museum and the small Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of Our Lady. If you go along Nikolskaya Street, you will get to Lubyanka Square with the imposing buildings of former KGB and the biggest in Russia Children's World Department Store.
If you decide to go through the Resurrection Gate you will find yourself on Manezhnaya (Manege) Square at the entrance to the Alexander Garden. It’s a large pedestrian open space and a nice place to walk and relax near the fountains. Underground Trade Centre ”Okhotny Ryad” or “the Hunter’s Row” is a paradise for shopping. You can continue your walk towards Arbat or Tverskaya Street. There are also fine buildings to visit and to take pictures of: The Shilov Art Gallery, hotels “Moskva”, “Nationale”, Pashkov's House, The Former House of the Moscow State Duma etc.
If you decide to turn round Georgy Zhukov’s horse monument you’ll occur on Revolution Square where you can visit the Museum of Patriotic War of 1812. From there it’s very easy to get to Teatralnaya or “Theatre” Square limited by the Metropol Hotel, The Bolshoi and the Maly Theatres. In the center you will find a beautiful fountain by Vitali.
All these sites and even more you will be able to visit and explore with knowledgeable audio excursion with offline map from Your Audio Guide “Attractions around the Kremlin”. You will find Moscow very pleasant for spending holidays.