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The circular stone construction nearby St.Basil's Cathedral, set on a pediment with some steps, is known as the Place Of Skulls, and also as the Tsar's Place.
This circular stone construction on Red Square dates back to the 1530s. The earliest mention of the Place of Skulls is in correspondence of Ivan the Terrible's time. In 1549 Tsar Ivan – not yet nicknamed “The Terrible” – issued a Decree here, instructing his warring barons to cease their hostilities against each other. From that time onwards the spot became a place where Royal Decrees were announced, and where official statements about the country's governance were read. In that context religious ceremonies of blessing also took place here. So why is it called the Place of Skulls? More probably because the river embankment used to jut out here – it was the “head of the river”, or its “skull”.
Popular legend claims that this circular construction appeared on Red Square to commemorate victory in the C16th wars against the Tartars. Relics of the saints were displayed here to the public – and miraculous healings were attributed to these relics. There's also a bizarre and infamous legend attached to the place – that the slavic name “Place of Skulls” is also the way common people referred to the biblical Hill of Golgotha – the place of Christ's crucifixion. But in fact the Place Of Skulls in Moscow – despite its fearful name – wasn't used for executions. It's possible that Death Sentences may have been read here – but the condemned men would have been taken away from this sacred place for the sentence to be carried out.
The Place Of Skulls became the main platform for the Town Cryer – from which official announcements, Royal Decrees, public pronouncements were made, and public holidays and ceremonies declared. The current structure is 13 metres in diameter, built in white stone.
The present appearance isn't the original one – when first built in the C16th, it was apparently made of bricks. C17th records mention that some kind of awning was mounted in front of it. Towards the end of the C18th the location was shifted slightly, and; rebuilt in stone.
Tourists have developed their own little ritual – while waiting to hear the clocktower chimes, they climb the podium and throw coins into the rostrum. The idea is that the coins land right in the centre.
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.