Even those who’ve never been to Moscow recognize the colorful domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral, which sits on Red Square below the ramparts of the Kremlin. The Kremlin’s tower-studded, walled complex of domed cathedrals and palaces, which dates to 1156 but occupies a site used for far longer, was the religious center of the Russian Orthodox Church and also the residence of the tsars.
Taken together, these sites symbolize Russia itself and have spent long centuries at the very heart of the nation.
The Kremlin sits on Borovitsky Hill, rising above the Moscow River in the center of the city. Its first white-stone walls and towers went up in 1367-68, and a rebuild little more than a century later employed skilled artists and architects from across Europe to shape the site into roughly its modern form and appearance.
During the early decades of the Soviet era, the Kremlin became an exclusive enclave where the state’s governing elite lived and worked. The site remains the official residence of the president of the Russian Federation but access to other areas within the walls has loosened considerably. Museums now display some of Russian history’s cherished relics here, and church services are once again performed in the Kremlin’s numerous cathedrals.