The Romanov Additions

After the death of Boris Godunov, there was a time of unrest and upheaval. Included in this disaster were impostors pretending to be deceased monarchs, and the final consequence was the Polish-gentry intervention into Moscow itself. The Poles settled in the Kremlin, and when they were kicked out, a very sad picture had replaced the beauty that was before. All the Kremlin chamber choir areas stood without roofs, floors, doors or porches; the wood in these rooms was burned, and the office of the State Treasury looted.

The new tsar Mikhail Romanov tried to re-create a decent replica of the old residential royal chambers, but money, craftsmen and building material were not easy to find after the Time of Troubles, so everything was done hastily, if only just to cover up the traces of destruction. But since the 1620s as Russia recovered, the new Romanov line widely resumed construction so that it was impossible to tell in detail or to describe the variety of new structures that emerged.

Mikhail Romanov
In 1635-1636 Tsar Mikhail Romanov built the Terem Palace upon the ancient stone base from the older royal chambers. The Kremlin was remade after the Troubles, and was monstrously increased in size to a substantial city within a city. In 1642, construction work began on the foundation of the patriarchal court. All the older wooden buildings were replaced by stone, and exterior courtyards were connected by passages and stairs. External and internal lost all meaning as the Romanov family sheepishly took the helm (Brumfeld, 2013: 199).

It might come as no surprise that the next stage of work on the Patriarchal Palace was the creation of Patriarch Nikon. Having examined several ancient buildings for authenticity, Nikon erected in their place the Church of St. Philip, whom the erstwhile Patriarch used as a weapon against the state. St. Philip was allegedly murdered by Ivan IV, though direct evidence is scanty (Widdis, 2006: 171ff).

On the western side of this highly politicized church, a three-story chamber for housing and local clergy became the complex of the Patriarch’s Palace. In 1680-1681, the church of St. Philip was renamed the Church of the Twelve Apostles, which should come as no surprise since Nikon had been deposed and the state reasserted its control over the church. In the mid-17th century in the court of the king’s father-in-law, the headquarters of the Miloslavsky clan, luxurious chambers, later called The Amusement Palace, became the first signal to decadence. All the Kremlin towers in this period were overbuilt through the political and spiritual enthusiasm of a united Russia after the Troubles. These have significantly changed the silhouette of the city center. Of course, by the 18th century the Kremlin declined in connection with the transfer of the capital to the far north at St. Petersburg. Only rare visits during times of the coronation of a new monarch were these palatial areas hastily repaired.

A later addition was another very high tower. Ivan commissioned the Great Bell, built in the early years of the 16th century. This kind of temple served as both a watchtower and a church, and was finished in 1508. To the east, behind a huge pillar of Ivan the Great, the wide stretches of the Ivanovo area featured buildings that housed the first real Russian bureaucracy, always crowded and the petitioners. It was also a public forum where clerks read aloud the royal decrees and orders from the ministries. At the command of Boris Godunov, additions were made to the Ivan the Great Bell in 1600, and in this form it is preserved to this day.

The history of the church within the Ivan “Bell Tower” begins in 1329, when the site of the present temple was used for the first small, crude Church. In 1505, the Emperor specially invited masters also from Italy to make this church an imperial one. The construction of the new church was dedicated to the memory of Prince Ivan III and was completed in 1508. Muscovites had never seen a structure like this, for the height of the temple was almost 100 yards high (Brumfeld, 2013: 87).

In 1600, Boris Godunov thoroughly modernized the Bell Tower church. It received its common name “Ivanovo” for the dedication of Russia to the mentality and ideal of Ivan the Great himself. He was, in a sense, the secular patron of Muscovy. This area was the place to announce changes to the law and to interrogate prisoners.

In 1702 Peter I began building in the Kremlin the house called the Arsenal, the construction of which was prolonged almost thirty five years. In 1737, the Kremlin suffered from yet another great fire, which burned many ancient buildings, but even more damage to ancient buildings suffered under Catherine II.

In 1767 the empress ordered the architect V.I. Bazhenov to produce a new draft of the Grand Kremlin Palace. Implementation of the grand plan required the demolition of many old buildings. The Taynitskaya Tower, the first Nameless Tower, housing for bureaucrats, a state workshop and the Armory were demolished. In 1773, the laying of the new palace was halted due to lack of funds, and in connection with the changing tastes and moods of the Empress. At the end of the 18th century work was entrusted to the architect M. F. Kazakovu who created a Gothic feel in the Kremlin for the government buildings and the Senate. The fashionable neo-Gothic line from M. F. Kazakovu was supported by architects Rossi and A. N. Bakarev and was brought to life in the St. Catherine Church of the Ascension Monastery. Architect I. V. Egotov near the Trinity gates erected the final Armory, which became the first Russian museum dedicated to Russian history.

The early 19th century was marked by dramatic events at the Kremlin. In 1812, after Moscow was abandoned on the orders of Mikhail Kutuzov, Napoleon’s troops looted, while crimes by French soldiers were such that many of the buildings affected were simply destroyed. However, in 1813 most of the temples were put in order. New construction began in the Kremlin in the 1830s, though this time it was inspired by the ideas of “autocracy, orthodoxy, and nationality” which became a conductor by structure from the architect Konstantin Ton. At the site of the ancient royal choir Ton erected a new building for the Grand Kremlin Palace. The site of the old stable yard near the ancient Borovitskaya Tower was to be demolished along with the ancient Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. New buildings were erected, including the Armory, which amounted to a new, single complex (Akinsha, 2008: 52 and 69).

The Arsenal (or Armory) was developed in modern times by Peter the Great for weapon’s storage and a model industrial center. After the defeat of Napoleon, this became a monument to the Russian victory, complete with French canons that were captured as the Grand Armiee fled for its life. Presently, the Kremlin bodyguard is headquartered there.

While not exactly historical, the “State Palace” was built under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev in the early 1960s. It is the newest of the Kremlin structures. It is basically a theater outfitted for the sake of the Party’s agitprop, but, as if to redeem itself, it now plays host to the local ballet company.
The elegant neoclassical Senate building, commissioned by Catherine the Great, was one of many works by the well known Moscow architect Matfei Kazakov. The building was initially built for Catherine to serve as a location for meetings with her privy council, an institution she created herself. More recently, and just as symbolically, its building became the chief Moscow office of Vladimir Lenin. Many of the appointments of Lenin’s post-revolution offices have been preserved, and near the end of Gorbachev’s final term as President it was redesigned to serve as the Presidential residence. It is, to some extent, the Russian White House (Brumfeld, 2013: 202).

The Tsar Cannon and Bell have been discussed above, but they have a coherence that few histories have noticed. These were meant as “prestige” pieces for their respective builders. Tsar Feodor, son of Ivan IV, sought to impress upon the world the recent advances of Russian science. The 42 ton canon is one of the largest in the world. It is questionable whether or not the canon was ever supposed to work, but if operable, it could shoot projectiles 2-3 times the size of a normal cannon ball. Similar canons were used by the Turks in their attack on the Walls of Constantinople in 1452-1453. One reason to believe it was never meant to work is the fact that the barrel itself is home to an elegant and intricate carving that depicts a lion, the symbol for Russia at the time, killing the heretics, seen as a snake. An image of the emperor himself is also carved on the barrel, almost making it certain that this was for show only (Merridal, 2013: 209).

The Tsar Bell was also another showpiece, weighing about 220 tons. It was never completed. The Empress Anna, one of Peter’s unfortunate successors, wanted the fragments of an old bell from an earlier fire to be cast together to form a memorial bell. The metalworkers, not used to handling such massive bells, dropped the newly completed object back into its specially made casting pit in 1737, cracking the bell, making it unable to be rung. The bell is in good company, since the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is also cracked.

In the center of the Kremlin’s Cathedral Square rises one of the most remarkable buildings of the 16th century, The Bell Tower of Ivan the Great. The bell tower was considered a miracle of architectural work in the 16th century. The history of the emergence of the bell tower goes back centuries when Ivan Kalita in 1329 built a small stone church in honor of St. John Climacus on that spot. In 1505 the church was dismantled and in 1508 a new one was built by architect Bon Fryazin. In the years from 1532-1543 the architect Petroc Minor on the north side of the tower added a rectangular bell tower with a Novgorod and Pskov type church named for the Ascension. To enter the temple, which was on the third floor of the belfry, Moscow masters built a high stone staircase in 1552 (Brumfeld, 2013: 152).