Topic: A Russian Moment
Photo © Sergei Grigoriev
Rich in both Romanov and Russian history, the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow is one of the most magnificent buildings in the Russian capital. The present palace was built on the initiative of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855) on the site of the former wooden palace of Tsar Ivan III and Empress Elizabeth Petrovna. Construction was carried out by a number of architects under the supervision of the Emperor's favourite architect, Konstantin Thon, who is often regarded as the "patriarch" of the Russian Byzantine style.
The palace consists of 700 chambers, including the main hall with grand staircase, five ceremonial Parade or Order halls, ceremonial quarters of the sovereign, living quarters of the Imperial family, and service rooms which are located on the ground floor.
The Grand Kremlin Palace was the official residence of the Russian Emperors while they were in Moscow. The palace was used extensively during the Coronation ceremonies throughout the more than 300 year reign of the Romanov dynasty, serving as a residence, and playing host to magnificent balls and gala dinners.
Between 1933-34, the Alexandrovsky and Andreyevsky Halls were destroyed and replaced with the Hall of the Supreme Council of the USSR. The former Halls were lavishly restored to their original between 1994-98, on the order of President Boris Yeltsin, at a cost of $800 million.
The Grand Kremlin Palace is not open to the public as a museum, as it is the official residence of the Russian president. However, from time to time, tours are offered (at a hefty sum). Entering the palace is a security nightmare. Visitors are subjected to bag searches, metal detectors, plus you must check your camera (no photography allowed), and you must present your passport and visa before entering. Visitors are accompanied by a guide and constantly under the watchful eye of armed security who shadow the group for the duration of the visit.
Despite this, a visit to the Grand Kremlin Palace is one of the highlights of a visit to Moscow. It includes the Terem Palace, the Palace of Facets, the Tsarina's Golden Chamber, several of the former apartments of the Russian sovereigns, but the highlight has to be the five magnificent Parade or Order Halls: Georgievsky, Vladimirsky, Aleksandrovsky, Andreyevsky, and Ekaterininsky.
Paul Gilbert (Administrator, Royal Russia) in the Andreyevsky Hall, Grand Kremlin Palace in 2000
On October 27th 2000, I had the rare honour of visiting the Grand Kremlin Palace during one of the tours which I used to host. On that particular day the group were permitted to take photographs of the interiors. That day also happened to be my 44th birthday and remains one of the highlights of my many visits to Russia.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 May, 2013
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