28. The Kremlin as seen by the Earl of Mayo

From St Petersburg and Moscow, A Visit to the Court of the Czar by Richard Southwell Bourke, 6th Earl of Mayo.

(Richard Southwell Bourke (1822-1872) was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and his tour of Russia took place in 1845. In the late 184os he entered politics, eventually becoming Viceroy and Governor General of India. He was assassinated while on a visit to a convict prison, and was mourned by the Establishment as a great statesman.)

The interior of the Kremlin, therefore, differs in nothing, save a little irregularity, from the new streets of the restored town. But the finishing stroke to this incongruity of style, so ill-befitting the sacred ground whereon these modern innovations stand, is the new palace, now rising on the site of the ancient habitation of the Czars. It is an enormous pile, without the smallest pretensions to architectural beauty, and looks more like a Manchester cotton factory than the Imperial residence of the sacred Kremlin.

How the Russian committee of taste could have induced themselves to set up an eye-sore of such gigantic proportions on so holy a spot, can only be conceived by those who have mused upon the edifices of Trafalgar Square. They might have left the old palace as it was: but if an Imperial residence was wanting in Moscow, and it was necessary that it should stand on this place, with the talent for imitation that the Russians are known to possess, why not have copied the Alhambra in the courts of the Kremlin?

In the interior of this renowned fortress, therefore, thanks to the outrageous taste of the Russian architects of latter years, we found nothing to impress our minds with reverence or awe, save the memories of the past; but they fortunately could not remove by brick and plaster imitations of Grecian porticoes and antique façades, the glorious and unequalled view from the terrace.