Kremlins in Russia

Moscow Kremlin

The Moscow Kremlin, usually referred to as simply the 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 a ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Moscow, Russia

Kazan Kremlin

The Kazan Kremlin is the historic citadel of Tatarstan. It was built at the behest of Ivan the Terrible on the ruins of the former castle of Kazan khans. The Kazan Kremlin includes many old buildings, the oldest of which is the Annunciation Cathedral (1554-62), the only 16th-century Russian church to have six piers and five apses. Like many of Kazan"s buildings of the period, it is constructed of local pale sandstone rath ...
Founded: 1556-1562 | Location: Kazan, Russia

Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin

The first attempt to replace the wooden fort on the stone Kremlin in the historic city center of Nizhny Novgorod refers to 1374, but construction limited to only one tower, known as the Tower of Dmitrov (not survived to our time). Under the rule of Ivan III, Nizhny Novgorod plays the role of guard city, having a standing army, and serves as a place of military gathering troops on Moscow"s actions against Khanate of Kazan. ...
Founded: 1500 | Location: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

Gdov Kremlin

Gdov was established as an outpost of the Pskov Republic. It occupied a strategically important position, being close to Lake Peipus, separating Livonia and Rus. Located on an important road to Pskov, Gdov protected it from the north. Its first mention in the chronicles dates back to 1323. Initially, the fortress was a mixture of wooden and earthen fortifications. However, the level of protection was deemed insuffici ...
Founded: 1431-1434 | Location: Gdov, Russia

Rostov Kremlin

Rostov’s impressive Kremlin was built in the 17th century under the orders of the powerful Metropolitan Iona of Rostov. He wanted the town (which in those days still wielded some power in the region) to have one of the most beautiful Kremlins in the country and to that end he dug deep into the church"s coffers to build this imposing fortress. Nowadays within the Kremlin walls there are numerous museums, althou ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Rostov, Russia

Suzdal Kremlin

The Suzdal Kremlin is the oldest part of the Russian city of Suzdal, dating from the 10th century. Like other Russian Kremlins, it was originally a fortress or citadel and was the religious and administrative center of the city. It is most notably the site of the Cathedral of the Nativity. Together with several structures in the neighboring city of Vladimir, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. While archeo ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Suzdal, Russia

Tula Kremlin

In 1507 Vasily III gave the order to construct an oak fortress in Tula on the left bank of the Upa River. In 1514 in an oak fortress, like in the Moscow Kremlin, Vasily III issued an order to construct the 'stone city', built in 1520-1521. In 1552, was besieged by the Crimean khan Devlet I Giray. At that time, Tsar Ivan IV was with campaign against Kazan. Urban population fought before the arrival of reinforcem ...
Founded: 1520-1521 | Location: Tula, Russia

Tobolsk Kremlin

The Tobolsk Kremlin was founded in 1587 when Moscow encouraged the construction of stone buildings in the city. In 1683-1686, masons sent from Moscow and Veliky Ustyug built the stone St. Sophia-Assumption Cathedral. Around the beginning of the 18th century the stone walls and the towers of the Kremlin were built, as well as a number of buildings that have not survived to our days, standing on a westward line from St. Sop ...
Founded: 1587 | Location: Tobolsk, Russia

Astrakhan Kremlin

For centuries, the Astrakhan Kremlin was inapproachable stronghold in the south-eastern border of the Russia.  The first construction of the Kremlin began in 1587-1588 under the guidance of I.G. Vorodkov, a lector of Discharge Order. He laid the first wooden fortress with powerful solid walls and towers. The place of construction was chosen on the hill, known as “Rabbit” or “Zayachii” in Russian. During the reig ...
Founded: 1587 | Location: Astrakhan, Russia

Ryazan Kremlin

Ryazan Kremlin, the oldest part of the city of Ryazan, is one of the oldest museums in Russia. Located on the top of a steep hill, it is surrounded by rivers and a dry moat. Human settlement on the territory of the Kremlin had occurred during the Mesolithic Era. Slavic tribes had colonized these places already by the 6th-7th centuries. Closest to the fortress of the future settlement of Borkovskoye, people on the island ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Ryazan, Russia

Smolensk Kremlin

Smolensk Kremlin was built between 1595 and 1602, during the reign of Tsars Fyodor I Ioannovich and Boris Godunov. The length of the walls is about 6.5 kilometres, of which less than the half was preserved. The fortifications were built under supervision of the architect Fyodor Kon. The Smolensk Kremlin is classified as an architectural monument protected at the federal level, and also has a great historical significance, ...
Founded: 1595-1602 | Location: Smolensk, Russia

Novgorod Kremlin

Novgorod Kremlin (Detinets) stands on the left bank of the Volkhov River. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings. The compound was originally the site of a pagan burial ground upon which the first bishop of Novgorod, Ioakim Korsunianin built the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom upon his arrival in the area in 989 or so. Thus the compound was and remained largely an ecclesia ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Veliky Novgorod, Russia

Kolomna Kremlin

Kolomna Kremlin was built between 1525–1531 by the order of Vasily III to imitate the Moscow Kremlin and was equal to it in both size and beauty. On the territory of the Kolomna Kremlin there are the Dormition Cathedral (17th century), Tikhvinsky Cathedral, built in pseudo-Russian style, as well as the Novo-Golutvin and Brusensky monasteries, the Trinity Church, the Cross Cathedral and other historic buildings. Kol ...
Founded: 1525-1531 | Location: Kolomna, Russia

Izborsk Fortress

Izborsk contains one of the most ancient and impressive fortresses of Western Russia. According to the Russian Primary Chronicle, the town was the seat of Rurik's brother Truvor from 862-864. Although his burial mound is still shown to occasional tourists, archaeological excavations of long barrows abounding in the vicinity did not reveal the presence of the Varangian settlement at the site, indicating that Izborsk was an ...
Founded: 1302 | Location: Izborsk, Russia

Zaraysk Kremlin

As part of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, Zaraysk was one of the fortresses forming a part of the Great Abatis Border, a fortified line of felled trees, barricades, fortresses, ditches, which were built by Russians as a protection against the hordes of the Crimean and Kazan Tatars. In 1531, a stone kremlin was built in place of the former wooden citadel. The Tatars failed to take the fortress during their raids in 1533, 1541, ...
Founded: 1531 | Location: Zaraysk, Russia

Syzran Kremlin

The Syzran Kremlin construction began in 1683 by Tsar Peter the Great I. Spasskya Tower was first portal, but then its redesigned and built inside the church in the name of the Savior. The tower is only surviving part of original kremlin. There is also a Church of the Nativity (1717). Currently, there is a museum inside the tower.
Founded: 1683 | Location: Syzran, Russia

Alexandrov Kremlin

The tsar’s residence in the Alexandrovskaya village (also known as the Alexandrovsky Kremlin) is an old Russian fortress which served as the actual capital of the oprichnina (the period of Russian history between 1565 and 1572 during which Tsar Ivan the Terrible instituted a domestic policy of secret police, massrepressions, public executions, and confiscation of land from Russian aristocrats) in the Moscow state fr ...
Founded: 1565 | Location: Aleksandrov, Russia

Porkhov Fortress

First record about Porkhov fortress was made in Novgorod"s chronicles in 1239. Knight of Novgorod Alexander Jaroslavovitch ('Nevsky') established the trade way along Shelonj river from Novgorod to Pskov by building of small wooden strong points. Porkhov fortress was one of them. Its fortifications consisted two lines of earthen ramparts and ditches and wooden wall above the ramparts. In 1346 Great Lithuani ...
Founded: 1387 | Location: Porkhov, Russia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.