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The white building decorated with a cut-work stone fascia is the Granovitaya, or Faceted, Palace. It is located to the right of the Cathedral of the Annunciation, and is the oldest civic building in Moscow. It now forms part of the complex of the Grand Kremlin Palace, whose eastern flank abuts the rear side of the Faceted Palace. Sadly you can't get inside the Faceted Palace unless you are a visiting Head of State – entrance is reserved only for VIP guests of the Russian President.
In 1487 the Italian architect Marco Ruffo – known in Russia by the name Marko Fryazin – was commissioned to built a grand Throne Room for royal receptions. The work was completed four years later by another Italian architect, Pietro-Antonio Solari.
The name “Faceted Palace” derives from the external decoration of the facade, finished in white-stone blocks cut into ornamental facets. ‘This stone-cutting so bold, Delights our eye to behold!’ wrote an enthusiastic medieval chronicler.
Since the Russian State forbids entrance to non-VIPs, allow us to take you inside in your imagination! The Throne Room is huge, square in plan, with four cross vaults resting on the side walls and a central four-sided pillar. The entire floorspace amounts to 495 square metres and the ceilings are 9 metres high. Here royal banquets were held, and the Council of Barons met. Ivan the Terrible feasted here when his armies took Kazan, and Peter the Great gave a banquet to celebrate his victory over Sweden.
The vaults and walls of the Faceted Palace are decorated with frescoes of the C16th. These frescoes represent the high point of such art in Russia for their time.
Moscow Kremlin is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River to the south, Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square to the east, and the Alexander Garden to the west. It is the best known of Kremlins (Russian citadels) and includes five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. The complex serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. It is also open-air museum. Tourists can just walk outdoors there or can visit cathedrals, Big Kremlin Palace and the Armory Chamber. The Kremlin Museums were established in 1961 and the complex was among the first Soviet patrimonies inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1990.
The site has been continuously inhabited since the 2nd century BC, and originates from a Vyatich fortified structure on Borovitsky Hill where the Neglinnaya River flowed into the Moskva River. Up to the 14th century, the site was known as the 'grad of Moscow'. The grad was greatly extended by Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy in 1156, destroyed by the Mongols in 1237 and rebuilt in oak in 1339. Later in 1366–1368Dmitri Donskoy replaced the oak walls with a strong citadel of white limestone on the basic foundations of the current walls. This fortification withstood a siege by Khan Tokhtamysh.
Grand Prince Ivan III organised the reconstruction of the Kremlin, inviting a number of skilled architects from Renaissance Italy who designed the new Kremlin wall and its towers, and the new palace for the prince. It was during his reign that three extant cathedrals of the Kremlin, the Deposition Church, and the Palace of Facets were constructed. The highest building of the city and Muscovite Russia was the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, built in 1505–08. The Kremlin walls as they now appear were built between 1485 and 1495. During the Time of Troubles, the Kremlin was held by the Polish forces for two years, between 21 September 1610 and 26 October 1612. The Kremlin's liberation by the volunteer army of Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin paved the way for the election of Mikhail Romanov as the new czar. During his reign and that of his son Alexis, the eleven-domed Upper Saviour Cathedral, Armorial Gate, Terem Palace, Amusement Palace and the palace of Patriarch Nikon were built. During the Imperial period, from the early 18th and until the late 19th century, Kremlin walls were traditionally painted white, in accordance with the time's fashion. During the Soviet period the Chudov Monastery and Ascension Convent, with their 16th-century cathedrals, were dismantled to make room for the military school and Palace of Congresses. The Little Nicholas Palace and the old Saviour Cathedral were pulled down as well. Now the plans of the government are to restore those lost masterpieces. And probably soon the Kremlin will return all its former buildings.