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The tall clock-tower with the arched gateway is Troitskaya, or Holy Trinity Tower. It's the entry-point for visitors coming to see the Moscow Kremlin – the historic centre of the city. Every day on the stroke of ten the gates are opened to visitors.
Troitsky, or Holy Trinity Tower, stands 76 metres, or 249 feet high – the tallest of all the Kremlin Towers. The red star added in the Soviet era brings it to 80 metres! It was built in the closing years of the C15th by the Italian architect Aloisio da Carezano, who used the Russianised name Aleviz Fryazin in Moscow. The tower had different names over the years – Bogoyavlenskaya, or Epiphany Tower; Znamenskaya or Tower of the Holy Sign; and Karetnaya or Carriage Tower. The current name arose in the C17th from the Holy Trinity Courtyard of the Patriarch's Court within the Kremlin. At the end of the C17th the tower acquired a new gabled roof similar to the Spassky Tower. There was once a chiming clock, but it was lost in the fires following Napoleon's retreat from Moscow in 1812.
There are six internal storeys within the Holy Trinity Tower, plus two levels of basement cellars – directed towards defence of the Kremlin fortress. The cellars were used as a prison in the C16-17th. Staircases arranged along the walls connect the different floors of the tower. Today the tower houses the offices, practice-rooms and rehearsal hall of the Presidential Military Band of Russia. The original function of the tower had been to offer access to the Patriarchal and Royal apartments within the Kremlin. They were also used to carry the dead in ceremonial procession.
The Kazan Ikon of Our Lady long hung over the gates of the Holy Trinity Tower, until it was damaged when the Bolsheviks stormed the Kremlin in 1917. The ikon's whereabouts are now unknown. In its place, on the Alexander Gardens side, there's now a clock-face – while on the Kremlin side there's an empty white niche, reminding us where the ikon previously hung.
The complete circumference of the Kremlin's defensive walls, which form a Pythagorean triangle in shape, totals 2km and 235m. The walls are topped with 1045 double-toothed crenelations in dovetail form – typical of Italian fortresses of this period. And this is no surprise, because the walls were entirely rebuilt between 1485 and 1495 by a succession of Italy's top military engineers, whom Tsar Ivan III had personally invited to complete the project.
Twenty different towers rise from the Kremlin Walls, ranging in height from 5 to 19 metres, depending on the land-lie. Each tower is unique – not a single one is the same. Three of them are corner-towers, five are gate-towers which permit access, and the others are sealed towers. The tallest of them all is Troitskaya, or Holy Trinity Tower. There it is – to the right of the yellow Arsenal building we can see behind the Kremlin Walls. Due to the hill on which the Kremlin is built, the walls aren't entirely straight, but pursue a slightly crooked path. The walls are brick-built from large, hard-baked red bricks. The walls are outbuilt at the bottom, and range from 3.5 to 6.5 metres in thickness.
The unmistakeable fortress complex of the Kremlin was built over many centuries – its history emerges from the hazy distance of many centuries. The red-brick fortress whose might and glory we see here today was far from the first to stand here on the Kremlin Hill. In fact there were at least four previous fortresses. In the C11th there were city defences built with trenches and palisades of entire tree-trunks, protecting the inhabitants of this Slavic city. By the C12th complete wooden walls had been built, and in 1340 a complete wood-built fortress stood here built from oak-trunks. 27 years later – when the Tatar overlords were thrown out – a white-walled stone Kremlin was built. But the present red-brick Kremlin dates from one hundred years later, during the C15th reign of Tsar Ivan III.
When the Kremlin was completed at the turn of the C16th, it was one of Europe's most advanced and impregnable fortresses. It was never conquered or stormed. In those days the Kremlin was surrounded by water on each side – the Moskva river to the South, and the Neglinnaya river to the North & West. To the East they dug a water-filled moat along the Kremlin walls. This moat was only filled-in during the C19th.
Over the centuries the Kremlin's walls have been repeatedly repaired, rebuilt or restored.
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.